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Articles / Preparing for College / Best Colleges for International Students

Best Colleges for International Students

Written by Sam Jaquez | July 13, 2021
Seven graduates throwing their caps into the air against a city skyline Photo by Pang Yuhao on Unsplash

Best U.S. Colleges for International Students

Each year, hundreds of thousands of students from around the world choose to go to school in the United States. In 2019, a record 1,095,299 international students were studying in the USA. International students are roughly 5.5 percent of all students enrolled in American colleges and universities

Most colleges and universities support students from other countries to navigate the admissions process, apply for a student visa, and pay for college. The best universities for international students also offer a thriving global community and opportunities to build relationships and explore on and off campus.

10 best colleges for international students:

  1. New York University
  2. Columbia University
  3. Arizona State University
  4. Boston University
  5. Indiana University
  6. Pomona College
  7. Stony Brook University – SUNY
  8. Wichita State University
  9. University of Southern California
  10. Iowa State University

New York University

New York University (NYU) in Manhattan has the most international students of any college in America. NYC serves 17,000 international students hailing from 138 countries.

NYU's comprehensive application instruction page covers common international student questions about admissions, financial aid, and applying for visas. The International Student Center offers a an impressive array of resources for international students. Their offerings include a transition program for first-years, professional networking opportunities, and a mentoring program. The International Student Center also hosts social events for students from the same global region, and dinners with professors.

NYU is in the heart of New York City. It's a great choice for students who want to experience one of America's most vibrant and multicultural cities. New York offers a robust network of public transportation and access to three major airports. Even students without a car explore the five boroughs, visit another city, or travel home.

Columbia University

Columbia is an ivy league school in New York City that hosts more than 14,000 international students, faculty, researchers, and visiting scholars each year. Columbia's global community comes from from over 150 countries.

Columbia’s International Student & Scholars Offices offers resources for every step of the student experience. From packing, to finding housing and food, and navigating life in New York City, ISSO has resources and tips.

The Society of International Undergraduates organizes outings and events to help students feel welcome at the university and in the city. Popular events include the international food and film festivals, trivia nights, and World Cup Soccer watch parties.

Like NYU, Columbia is an excellent destination for students to explore all that NYC has to offer.

Arizona State University

Arizona State University (ASU) in Phoenix, AZ has 13,000 international students from more than 135 countries.

Paying for school is often one of the challenges students from other countries face, since they do not qualify for federal loans. ASU offers resources for students to research financial aid and scholarships.

The International Students and Scholars Center (ISSC) offers several programs to support international student success. ISSc's Let’s Chat series provides a space for student and faculty to practice their language skills. Coffee and Conversation events foster friendships between domestic and international students. The Sun Devil Global Connections programs pairs students with community members. Community members help ASU students acclimate to life in the U.S. and introduce them to all that Phoenix offers.

Boston University

Boston University in Massachusetts has more than 11,000 international students from 138 countries. The Global Programs Compass provides BU students from other countries with support in four areas: academics, community, career and housing. BU also offers help applying for a visa and understanding immigration status. BU has two merit scholarships that are open to first-year international students.

The city of Boston is also home to more that 250,000 colleges students and over 50 colleges and universities. The city is known for an active nightlife and ample opportunities to enjoy music, shows and sporting events.

Indiana University

Indiana University in Bloomington, IN has over 48,000 undergraduate students, including over 7,000 international students. IU Bloomington has several scholarship options for students from outside of the U.S, including academic scholarships, country-specific scholarships, and need-based scholarships.

Indiana University provides an International Student Ambassador to help future and new students learn about life at IU. The university also has over 750 student organizations for students to get involved with.

The Office of International Services (OIS) provides activities to help international students feel part of the community. OIS offers informal English conversation practice events, and a student mentorship program. IU Bloomington also provides trips so students can explore the outdoors with activities like hiking, kayaking, snowboarding, and camping.

Pomona College

Pomona College in Claremont, California is a tight-knit liberal arts college. Pomona has approximately 1,477 students from 61 nations and 49 U.S. states. Twelve percent of all students are not from the United States.

Pomona is a great choice for students looking for small class sizes and close relationships. Around 94 percent of Pomona students live on-campus, which makes it easier to get to know classmates and professors.

The International Student Mentor Program provides students with support during their time at the university. Every international student also has an International Student Support Advisor who speaks their language. Students can reach out to their advisor for support any day of the week.

Pomona is also committed to offering financial aid packages that meet students' demonstrated need. Forty-four percent of Pomona's international students qualify for and receive need-based aid each year.

SUNY Stony Brook University

The State University of New York at Stony Brook has 4,436 international students from 103 countries.

The International Student Ambassadors support international students and work to help Stony Brook feel like a home away from home. Through the International Student Organization, students can find opportunities to practice their English. Students can also get advice on adjusting to life in a new country, and find fun ways to experience university life.

SUNY Stonybrook is close to both New York City and the Long Island's beaches. It's location is ideal for students who want to visit NYC, but live in a quieter town.

Wichita State University

Wichita State University (WSU) in Kansas has 1,750 international students from over 110 different countries. Seventy-three percent of WSU’s international students are undergraduates and 27% are graduate students.

Wichita State’s affordable tuition prices make it a good option for international students on a budget. Out-of-state tuition is WSU is just over $15,000 a year, not including housing, books, and travel expenses. WSU has over 15 international student associations on campus including a few faith-based organizations. WSU’s Intensive English Language Center is an appealing resource for students who want to hone their English skills.

University of Southern California

The University of Southern California (USC) in Los Angeles, California has 10,000 international students from over 130 countries. Twenty-two percent of the student body are international students.

USC is a great option for those looking to join a top-ranked academic program with a large international student body. USC’s Office of International Services (OIS) offers job searching workshops and a monthly international coffee hours. The OIS's LA Today program provides guided trips to some of sunny Southern California's hottest spots, like LA's famous Griffith Observatory and the Getty Museum. Adventurous students can ski at Big Bear Mountain or explore Catalina Island.

Iowa State University

Iowa State University of Science and Technology in Ames, Iowa enrolls a total of 2,592 international students. Eight percent of all Iowa State students are from outside of the U.S.

The tuition at Iowa State is very affordable, at just over $12,000 for international students. ISU also has an International Merit Scholarship, plus several other scholarships available through the International Students and Scholars Office.

ISU has several programs to foster community and support. The Cultural Ambassador Program creates small groups of American students and international students that share mutual interests. English Together provides opportunities for students and faculty to informally practice speaking together. Dinner in Des Moines enables students to enjoy different cuisines at one of Des Moines' many restaurants.

Thinking About Going to College in the US?

Ask questions, get advice, and share your knowledge on the College Confidential forums for international students.

Written by


Sam Jaquez

Sam is a freelance writer. She studied at the University of Massachusetts Boston where she earned a degree in English.

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