Indian students seeking higher education in the United States have been increasingly opting for physical sciences over engineering for their postgraduate and doctorate degrees (Photo by arrangement)
Indian students seeking higher education in the United States have been increasingly opting for physical sciences over engineering for their postgraduate and doctorate degrees, a recent report by the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) reveals. According to the data, physical sciences, which include physics, chemistry, and earth sciences, have become the most popular choice for Indians pursuing Masters and Ph.D. programs in the US.
According to the report, Indian students made up 54% of all GRE test-takers in the Physical Sciences category in the 2020-2021 academic year, compared to 41% in the Engineering category.
Over the last decade, the percentage of Indian students interested in studying engineering in the US has decreased significantly, falling from 34% to 17% in the testing year 2021-22. In contrast, during the same period, the percentage of GRE candidates interested in physical sciences increased from 27% to 37%.
The Open Doors Report, compiled by the US State Department and the nonprofit Institute of International Education (IIE), backs up this trend. According to the report, the proportion of Indians studying engineering in the US has decreased from 38.8% in 2009-10 to 29.6% in 2021-22. Furthermore, fewer students are interested in studying life sciences, with the number of Indians enrolled in such programs falling from 10% in 2013-14 to 6.5% in 2021-22.
According to experts, the shift in educational trends can be attributed to several factors. A major reason is tudents are increasingly seeking stability and job security. Massive layoffs in the engineering sector as part of cost-cutting measures is also discouraging students from pursuing engineering.
Sanjay Laul, Founder and Advisor of education management company M Square Media (MSM) says, "The shift in preferences reflects the evolving priorities of Indian students who are seeking a more stable future and a higher level of job security in their chosen fields.
The growing trend of interdisciplinary studies, research, and innovation has also contributed to a significant shift in preferences among Indian students choosing to study in the US.
Indian students are the second-largest international student cohort at US universities. India sent 199,182 students to America during the 2021-22 academic year, an increase of 18.9% from the previous year. Graduate student enrollment has increased significantly, with a 48% increase to 1,02,024 in 2021-22.
Universities and colleges in the US are constantly adapting to meet the changing needs of international students, including those from India. This shift in preference for physical sciences over engineering opens up new avenues for students and institutions to focus on research, innovation, and interdisciplinary collaboration in these fields.