Skip to content

World at Our Door


By Sean Smith | Chronicle Editor

Published: Jan. 30, 2014

Boston College’s international student population rose for the sixth consecutive year and continues to set new records, according to data released this month by the University’s Office of International Students and Scholars (OISS).

BC this year has welcomed 1,277 undergraduate and graduate students, along with 220 research scholars and 307 persons taking practical training, from other countries. Adding dependents, the total international population is 1,974, 16 percent above the 2012-13 academic year. OISS noted that, with additional students, faculty and scholars expected to arrive this semester, the total international population will top 2,000.

After having stayed in the 700s during the period of 1999 through 2008, the BC international student population has since then risen each year and is now at the highest ever recorded. OISS said this year’s 24 percent increase among undergraduates from abroad reflects “a cumulative effect” from admitting more international freshmen; this fall, BC enrolled its largest number of international freshmen, 157, comprising seven percent of the Class of 2017.

Undergraduate and graduate students from China (366) and South Korea (183) represent almost 43 percent of the University’s international student population. Other most-represented countries include Canada (41), Spain (40), the United Kingdom (36), Australia (34), Italy (33) and India (32).

“New offerings at BC, like the School of Theology and Ministry and programs like the Graduate School of Social Work’s international PhD, the Carroll Graduate School of Management master’s in accounting, the LLM at the Law School, all have contributed to the rise we’ve been seeing,” said OISS Director Adrienne Nussbaum.

“Another big factor is that, until recently, Chinese undergraduates had not been allowed by their government to study in the US, but that has changed.”

Added Nussbaum, “There’s a cumulative effect at work here, too: If one school has 10 more students than last year, or one program has 15 more students, those don’t seem like significant increases. But add them all up with the other schools and programs over time, and the picture changes a lot.”

The significant increases at BC among international faculty and scholars, as well as students working in the US after graduation, is due in part to more inclusive reporting, Nussbaum added: Many of these visitors arrive and depart during the academic year and “were not accurately captured in previous statistics.”

Other highlights of the OISS report:

•Asia, not surprisingly, is the largest world region represented in the BC international population – 57 percent – followed by Europe (20 percent) and Mexico/Central and South America (eight percent).

•Female undergraduate international and exchange students outnumber males, 369 to 276.

•Economics has the most international undergraduates, 103. Other most-enrolled fields include finance (73), communication (49), management (46) and political science (43).

•The Graduate School of Arts and Sciences has the most international students enrolled, 214, followed by the Carroll Graduate School of Management (163) and Lynch Graduate School of Education (95). The most popular fields of study are management (62), economics (60), finance and theology-ministry (54 apiece), accounting (52) and chemistry (40).

The report is available at the OISS website,