The latest

International applications to U.S. graduate schools rose by 7 percent this year, a sharp contrast to the 28 percent decline in 2004 that probably resulted from reduced student visas following the 9/11 attacks and the escalation of wars in Iraq and Afghanistan. While more international students apply to physical and earth science programs, social science programs — including psychology — saw an 11 percent increase in applications this year, dwarfing last year's 6 percent rise.

That's positive news, says Nathan Bell, the director of research and policy analysis at the Council of Graduate Schools, which collected the data. "International students contribute to the economy while studying here, and many, after they graduate, stay in the United States for postdoctoral positions and jobs," he says.

Sixteen percent of U.S. graduate students are foreign, helping to enhance the international reputation of American universities, Bell adds.

Half of all international applicants to U.S. grad schools come from China, India and South Korea. Applications from Turkey and the Middle East rose by 18 percent this year, the fifth year in a row this region's application numbers have grown by double digits.

"We live in a global world, and having students from diverse backgrounds provides all students with a more well-rounded view of the world and the opportunities open to them," says Bell.

—J. Clark