applying to US universities

Whether you’re an American or international applicant, you may hope to spend your college years in a cosmopolitan campus setting, meeting students from around the world. Maybe this is because you’ve grown accustomed to a diverse population in your own school, or maybe it’s just the opposite—you’re ready for a big departure from your homogenous hometown. Regardless, there are plenty of colleges and universities famous for their international flavor and their variety may surprise you.

One size does not fit all: From the tiny College of the Atlantic in Maine (359 students), with its emphasis on human ecology, to the sprawling campus of the University of California, San Diego (35,800 students), known for its booming health sciences programs, there is a wide range of sizes when it comes to schools with large international populations.

City, country, and everything in between: It’s not shocking that many of the most international campuses are found in America’s great metropolises. In the Boston area, you’ll find four of the most global schools around: Suffolk, Brandeis, Northeastern, and Boston University. In New York City, NYU and Columbia students call dozens of foreign countries home. But you’ll also find large international populations at the University of Illinois in Urbana-Champaign, Oklahoma’s University of Tulsa, and Purdue in Indiana.

Specialized schools are global, too: Florida Institute of Technology, a relatively small private school in the medium-sized city of Melbourne, boasts one the highest percentage of international students in the country. Meanwhile, out in the placid desert of Santa Fe, New Mexico, you’ll find St. John’s College, famous for its Great Books curriculum, but less famous for the fact that a whopping 25% of its students are from overseas.

Women take the lead: A large portion of international students studying at the undergraduate level in the US are female, so it’s not surprising that four of the most global liberal arts colleges in the country are women’s colleges: Mount Holyoke, Bryn Mawr, Smith, and Wellesley.

To find more US universities with sizeable international populations, check out US News & World Report, which provides lists of schools with the highest percentage of students from outside the country. You can also use popular resources like College Board’s BigFuture website and the Fiske Guide, which provide plenty of facts about campuses, including the percentage of international students. Additionally, just about every college lists student population statistics on its admission website, including breakdowns of which countries send the most applicants to its campus.


Written by Emily Toffelmire
Emily Toffelmire is a member of College Coach’s team of college admissions experts. Prior to joining College Coach, Emily worked as an admissions officer at University of Southern California as well as a college counselor at high schools in the US and Thailand.