The growth of international students studying at the bachelor’s degree level far outpaces growth of master’s students — 54 percent compared to 26 percent over the same fiveyear period between 2008-2009 and 2013-2014, according to data from the IIE. Which begs the question: how do they all decide what to study and where? World Education News & Reviews (WES) recent “Mobility Monitor” report yields new insight into how prospective international bachelor’s students choose between programs. Let’s take a closer look.


Figures and Findings

WES survey participants were asked to select the most important of four factors which influenced their decision when considering between U.S. colleges and universities: school reputation, career prospects, location and cost. Reputation came out on top with 31 percent of students citing a school’s faculty research and expertise, rankings, and peer recommendations as paramount.

It was anything but a landslide, however. In fact, reputation just narrowly edged out both career prospects and cost, which claimed 30 and 29 percent of the votes, respectively.

Perhaps most surprising was location’s relatively negligible finish. A mere 10 percent of respondents cited being close to friends and family; living near a major city; being part of a community of people from home; and fun things to do in the area as reasons to choose a school.

But What About Master’s Students?

The same questions were also asked of master’s students, and their responses revealed some interesting attitudinal differences. Master’s students placed a much higher emphasis on career prospects — a full 48 percent of them cited earning potential following graduation; school reputation with potential employers; and quality of career preparation services as their reason for choosing one school or program over another.

Conversely, cost was less of a concern for master’s students — just 15 percent named it as the most important criterion when selecting where to study. However, greater funding opportunities for master’s students may be a factor in this difference.

While the numbers in themselves may not be shocking, the equality across multiple motivations is worth noting. The takeaway? International recruitment strategies which address holistic students needs for everything from reputable education to a connected community are likely to be most successful.



By Adam