The U.S. B-Schools With The Most Indian & Chinese Students

The U.S. B-Schools With The Most Indian & Chinese Students

U.S. college enrollment numbers are finally rising after years of decline, though the number of first-year students is still down overall since the Covid-19 pandemic. But by one key measure, higher education in the U.S. is thriving: It is still the preferred destination of a huge and growing population of young people around the world who hope to climb the socioeconomic ladder to a better life.

U.S. State Department data show that U.S. colleges have largely rebounded from the Covid enrollment slump: In the first nine months of 2023, the U.S. issued over 372,000 F-1 student visas, compared with 335,000 for the same period of 2022. Thats 11% growth. According to Sasha Ramani, chief strategist at MPOWER Financing, a leading international student loan lender, the U.S. is on track to issue over 460,000 visas during 2023.

“The story in American higher education is empty seats in classrooms,” Ramani tells Poets&Quants. “There are fewer American students in their late teens and twenties who are at university-going age. There’s actually a lot of room to fill those seats with international students, since we also need to fill jobs in healthcare, high-tech, manufacturing — the growth areas in the American labor force.”


The U.S. B-Schools With The Most Indian & Chinese Students

MPOWER’s Sasha Ramani: “I think just generally we see a large surge in interest of students from India and West Africa, and necessarily with limited space and classrooms that will have a little bit of a crowding out effect of Chinese students as well”

Ramani says the data indicate that rapid change is underway for U.S. colleges and universities and the business schools that operate within them. The mix of students is changing rapidly away from traditional sources, like China, and toward emerging markets like West Africa. In 2022, he says, enrollment of Chinese students in the U.S. was half its pre-Covid numbers, and while it grew significantly through the first seven months of 2023, it is still well below its 2019 peak.

One thing hasn’t changed: Indian students are the dominant international population, topping all countries in 2023 as they did, for the first time, in 2022. In the first half of this year, the Indian student population in the U.S. jumped another 15%, Ramani says.

“What’s interesting is that while all countries saw a decline in enrollment in 2020, for obvious reasons, China is one that has really not rebounded,” Ramani says. “But in that time, we see involvement from India and all over Africa to be surging, particularly West Africa.”

There are a couple of reasons for this, Ramani says. Number one: Universities are looking to diversify their populations, and generally speaking, it’s too risky to rely too much on one country because another epidemic or other disaster could strike and devastate their student population.

“But also, universities have, during Covid, learned to recruit virtually,” Ramani says. “For example, if they’re going to India, they’re not only able to reach students in Delhi, Mumbai, Bangalore. They’re able to run virtual events that reach students in smaller cities virtually anywhere. And that’s something that we actually see. At MPOWER our internal data shows that yes, we’re seeing rapid growth in the big cities, but also in some small towns which you and I have probably never heard of before.”

The decline in Chinese enrollment, he adds, is not confined to the U.S. It’s also seen in Canada, and to a lesser degree the UK and other countries. “I think just generally we see a large surge in interest of students from India and West Africa, and necessarily with limited space and classrooms that will have a little bit of a crowding-out effect of Chinese students as well.”

Ramani points out an interesting, and telling fact: There are now as many international students in Canada as there are in the U.S., despite the U.S. being 10 times Canada’s size. “I think that just shows there is copious room for the U.S. to continue attracting bright students from around the world,” he says.


U.S. News 2023 Rank School Indian Students – 2023 – All Programs Indian Students – 2022 Chinese Students – 2023 – All Programs Chinese Students – 2022
20T Washington (Foster) 66% 58.3% 13% 15%
35T Arizona State (Carey) 66% 50% 11% 18%
27T Texas-Dallas (Jindal) 62% 42% 3% 3%
24T Rice (Jones) 61% 50% 9% 13%
31T Minnesota (Carlson) 61% 11% NA NA
20T Texas-Austin (McCombs) 60% 62% 12% 12%
24T Georgetown (McDonough) 46% 44% 14% 14%
18 Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 44.5% 45% 25.1% 13%
As a percentage of their total international student population

Source: U.S. News & World Report


Poets&Quants analyzed data from U.S. News & World Report‘s annual ranking of the top U.S. B-schools and found support for the theory of an ongoing shift away from Chinese and toward Indian students, and, to a lesser degree, toward those from certain countries in Africa. Across 36 of the top 40 schools for which data was available, the average Indian student population across all B-school programs (as part of the total international population at each school) was 33.7% in 2023; last year, looking at the top 26 schools, P&Q found that Indians accounted for 28.5%. The overall Chinese population declined to 13.9%, down from 17.4% last year.

Twenty-seven of 36 B-schools reported 20% or more Indian students; last year it was 17 of 26. And a dozen schools reported 40% or more, up from nine schools in 2022. Leading all ranked B-schools in Indian population were the University of Washington Foster School of Business and Arizona State Carey School of Business, both at 66%; in 2022 no school had more than 62%. For comparison, Foster and Carey have 13% and 11% Chinese students, respectively.

Eight schools reported more than 20% Chinese students, up from five last year, and just two had more than 40%: Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School, which once again led all schools with 93%, and the University of Wisconsin-Madison Business School, with 41%.

No school in the U.S. News top 40 reported “NA” for its Indian population; seven schools did so for their Chinese populations. The lowest any school reported for its Indian population was at Washington Olin and Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business, both with 2%; the lowest Chinese population for a school that reported one was at UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, with 0.9%. Eight schools reported Chinese student numbers below 10%. Only four schools reported more Chinese students than Indian students: Wisconsin, Olin, Yale School of Management, and Cornell Johnson School of Management. See the table at the bottom of this page for details.

In MBA programs, Cornell Johnson boasts the highest overall international population, at 48.9%. The lowest in the top 40 is Florida Warrington College of Business, at 19.1%, with BYU Marriott close behind at 19.3%. Warrington had last year’s international low as well, at 11.4%. Overall in 2023, 10 schools reported 40% or more international MBA populations, and 24 had 35% or more.


U.S. News 2023 Rank School Chinese Students – 2023 Chinese Students – 2022 Indian Students – 2022 Indian Students – 2023
37T Washington-St. Louis (Olin) 93% 94% 2% 2%
40T Wisconsin 41% 36% NA NA
8T Yale SOM 35% 31% 12% 15%
15 Cornell (Johnson) 33.2% 42.6% 15.4% 13.1%
18 Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 25.1% 13% 44.5% 45%
10 NYU (Stern) 24.2% 28.2% 28.2% 28.4%
8T Michigan (Ross) 23% 11% 37% 41%
11T Duke (Fuqua) 23% 24.4% 27.9% 31.3%
As a percentage of their total international student population

Source: U.S. News & World Report


Most B-schools analyzed by P&Q had Indian students first and Chinese students second among their international populations. But not all. UNC Kenan-Flagler, Indiana Kelley School of Business, Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, Rochester Simon Business School, Georgia Terry  College of Business, BYU Marriott, UC-Irvine Merage School of Business, Florida Warrington, Michigan State Broad College of Business, and Penn State Smeal College of Business all had some version of India first, some other country (or countries) next. See table below for details.

Recalling the increase in F-1 visas issued to students from West Africa, Nigerians are among the more noteworthy secondary population in U.S. B-schools. At three schools — Penn State Smeal, Georgia Terry, and Virginia Darden School of Business — Nigerian students account for between 10% and 31% of the student populations across all programs, while they are in the high single digits at half a dozen other B-schools.

Sasha Ramani says African enrollment is booming, up by 16% compared to 2022, led by Nigeria (22%) and Ghana (57%). These two countries account for nearly all African student growth. Still, African students, particularly from West Africa, must contend with significantly higher visa rejection rates than their peers in other countries, he adds, suggesting that the U.S needs to make policy changes to better welcome these students.

“Nigeria and Ghana are already sending a lot of students and just as a percentage-wise, that accounts for nearly all the year-over-year growth,” Ramani says. “I think what we see here is, again, universities are looking to diversify intake, and that means the 50-odd countries in Africa.”

Recruitment remains a challenge, he adds. “It’s difficult to recruit these students,” he says. “So first of all, Africa’s fragmented, we cannot just think of it as one country or even just a handful of regions. But also these students do face greater challenges when it comes to securing financing, and after that the immigration as well. The F-1 student visa approval rates are quite a bit lower for students from Africa compared to the rest of the world. Those are actually both challenges which we at MPOWER have been able to help with. When we have been speaking with schools, post-Covid, one thing schools say is, ‘Oh my God, I have so many students from Africa asking about funding. I don’t know what to tell them. Now I can point them to you.'”


Ramani says the surge in F-1 visas is part of a more welcoming atmosphere created by the Biden administration, especially compared to its predecessor.

“On the one hand, the messaging that America is more welcoming is definitely a stronger message under the Biden administration than the Trump administration,” he says. “They’re also doing some things which will have a more longer-term impact on actually realizing that, besides messaging.

“An example of that is when President Biden and India’s Prime Minister Modi were together this summer, Biden said that the U.S. will open a new consulate in Bangalore, India, which will help with visa interviews, processing applications, and so on. So it’s a little bit of more rhetoric followed by a little bit of action — but not anything that’s necessarily super concrete, because a lot of that will take congressional action, which hasn’t really happened. So while there’s some policy, it’s also just there are a lot of young and smart students from around the world who have been unable to travel abroad since Covid, and now they’re realizing those opportunities, and American schools have learned how to reach into countries virtually to recruit students from around the world too.”

But it’s also that Chinese are staying home, and other countries are filling the gap.

“A little bit staying home, yes, and a little bit reallocating to other countries,” Ramani says. “There are some concerns about geopolitical tensions with the U.S. But that rebalancing is not going to be that strong of an effect. That’s a theory, but I don’t think it’s going to be that big. A couple of reasons: Number one, a lot of the other countries that students would go to are Western nations closely aligned with the U.S. And number two, other nations would be smaller. Singapore, for example, has limited capacity for foreign students. I think China’s been a market that’s been very heavily saturated for a while. But now it’s an aging population, and there are just fewer Chinese citizens in their 20s as there were, let’s say, 10 years ago. So the question is, where are the young, hungry, smart students now in larger and growing volumes? It’s more so India and West Africa. Not to say there are no Chinese students, it’s still like many tens of thousands have come so far this year. It’s just, I don’t think it’s going to reclaim that top spot anytime soon.


“If you’re a smart and talented Chinese student with global ambitions, generally most of the best schools in the world are American or in another Western country,” Ramani continues. “I don’t think we’ll see a big decline in ambitions as a result of that. It’s just a little bit of volume. I’ve mentioned with that, a lower population of younger Chinese students that yes, some will decide to stay home, some will decide to go to another country, but I think of it as several reasons that are kind of accumulating.”

Will that change how universities and business schools recruit students?

“I think it will,” he says. “Universities do want to maintain a diverse student body, and the Supreme Court decision on affirmative action has eliminated one path to doing so with domestic students. But institutions that want to maintain a diverse classroom can actually do so through international recruitment.

“I don’t want to attribute the numbers we just talked about for Nigeria and Ghana to that, that would be too soon. But in general, yes, we expect to see greater efforts from universities to recruit students from sub-Saharan Africa and Latin America in particular, so that they can kind of maintain some broader international diversity in their classrooms as well. And this is where financing really plays a part.”


2023 US News Rank School Total Student Enrollment (All Programs: MBA, EMBA, Master’s) Indian Students – 2023 Chinese Students – 2023 Other Notable Populations – 2023 Full-Time MBA Enrollment Full-Time MBA International Enrollment
1 Chicago (Booth) 2,631 30% 16% Mexico 7%, Canada 5%, Brazil 5% 1,281 37.4%
3 Penn (Wharton) 2,248 29% 15% Canada 9%, South Korea 4%, UK 3% 1,788 35.2%
4 MIT (Sloan) 858 4.6% 2.9% Brazil 2.3%, Canada 2.1%, Japan 2% 858 41.7%
8T Yale SOM 922 15% 35% Canada 7%, Germany 3.8%, South Korea 3.6% 784 36.6%
8T Michigan (Ross) 1,148 37% 23% Canada 4%, Brazil 4%, Taiwan 4% 754 32.2%
10 NYU (Stern) 2,492 28.4% 24.2% Canada 7.5%, South Korea 5.3%, Taiwan 4.2% 678 27.4%
11T Columbia 2,136 14.3% 10.6% Chile 7.4%, Japan 6.9%, Argentina 5.1% 1,448 NA
11T UC-Berkeley (Haas) 1,671 13.1% 7.1% Canada 2.1%, Brazil 1.1%, South Korea 1.0% 562 38.4%
11T Duke (Fuqua) 1,318 31.3% 23% Peru 5.1%, South Korea 4.3%, Brazil 4.2% 858 36.9%
14 Virginia (Darden) 1,039 33% 10% Nigeria 10%, Mexico 5%, Brazil 5% 699 NA
15 Cornell (Johnson) 707 13.1% 33.2% Canada 5.8%, South Korea 3.6%, Taiwan 3.4% 587 48.9%
17 Emory (Goizueta) 671 8.4% 7.1% South Korea 3.8%, Nigeria 1.1% 276 41.3%
18 Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) 522 44.5% 25.1% South Korea 6%, Japan 3.3%, Thailand 3.3% 430 44.9%
19 UCLA (Anderson) 1,893 33.2% 10.2% Canada 8.3%, South Korea 6.1%, Taiwan 4.8% 689 37.4%
20T Texas-Austin (McCombs) 977 60% 12% Mexico 4%, Taiwan 4%, Canada 3% 478 26.8%
20T Washington (Foster) 654 66% 13% Canada 4%, Bangladesh 3%, Pakistan 2% 221 40.3%
22T UNC-Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) 542 16.4% 0.9% Nigeria 2.8%, Mexico 1.3%, South Korea 1.1%, Japan 0.9% 542 30.6%
22T Indiana (Kelley) 476 41% NA Nigeria 8%, South Korea 7%, Indonesia 6%, Ghana 4% 281 43.4%
24T Georgetown (McDonough) 984 46% 14% Colombia 4%, Peru 4%, South Korea 3% 519 39.1%
24T Rice (Jones) 816 61% 9% Nigeria 6%, Mexico 5%, Canada 3% 329 40.7%
26 Georgia Tech (Scheller) 616 44% NA Brazil 8%, Canada 6%, South Korea 6%, Nigeria 6% 156 23.7%
27T Vanderbilt (Owen) 415 32% 11% Canada 10%, Nigeria 8%, Switzerland 3% 329 21%
27T Texas-Dallas (Jindal) 894 62% 3% Taiwan 1%, Vietnam 1%, South Korea 1% 95 25.3%
27T Rochester (Simon) 338 41% NA Bangladesh 7.5%, Nigeria 6%, Peru 6%, Brazil 4% 216 46.8%
30 Notre Dame (Mendoza) 413 38% 11% Nigeria 9%, Brazil 4%, Canada 4% 281 32.4%
31T Georgia (Terry) 487 39% NA Nigeria 29%, Uzbekistan 5%, Vietnam 5%, Brazil 3% 109 31.2%
31T Minnesota (Carlson) 691 61% 11% Ghana 5%, Nigeria 2%, Costa Rica 2% 153 28.8%
33T Michigan State (Broad) 361 43% 4% Canada 6%, Nigeria 4%, Taiwan 4% 133 29.3%
33T SMU (Cox) 463 37.3% 17.9% Mexico 6%, Korea 5.2%, Nigeria 2.2% 124 21.8%
35T Arizona State (Carey) 345 66% 11% Taiwan 9%, South Korea 2%, Nigeria 2% 115 40%
35T BYU (Marriott) 381 2% NA Brazil 2%, Mexico 2%, South Africa 1%, Philippines 1% 254 19.3%
37T Washington-St. Louis (Olin) 412 2% 93% Nigeria 1%, Taiwan 1%, Ghana 1% 177 45.8%
37T Penn State (Smeal) 145 38% 7% Nigeria 31%, Taiwan 3%, Brazil 3% 96 30.2%
37T UC-Irvine (Merage) 565 20% NA Korea 4%, Japan 2%, Nigeria 1%, Peru 1% 91 35.2%
40T Florida (Warrington) 313 27.5% NA South Korea 17.5%, Canada 10%, Venezuela 7.5%, Peru 5% 68 19.1%
40T Wisconsin 314 36% 41% Taiwan 6%, South Korea 4%, Vietnam 2% 155 34.2%
As a percentage of their total international student population

Source: U.S. News & World Report


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