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California Funding Issue for Internationals


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Hey folks,

I'm an international student looking to apply to American PhD programmes in philosophy. A friend who has already been through the application process has advised me: 'There are a whole bunch of good University of California campuses in great locations (UCLA, UC San Diego, UC Riverside UC Irvine) I got really excited about applying to them, but later found that they accept very few international students because we can never become state residents, and therefore the University loses out on state funding'

That looks like a reason to cross all grad schools in California off my list. Does anyone know more about this issue, or about whether it applies to other states?

Thanks in advance!

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Your friend is right. I received a lot of the same advice from professors who worked at American (and Californian) universities when I was applying from Canada too.

However, I don't think this means that you should just go and cross them all off your list! It just means the UC schools will be extra competitive, so it would not be a good idea to solely apply to these UC schools.

Also, yes, this applies to other states too. In almost every state, the public schools will be affected in the same way. It's especially bad in the University of California system (and probably others too but I am less familiar with them) because of the nice location and the brand name, making it very popular with international students. 

Private universities do not have the same constraint though, as all students cost the same, whether they are in-state, American, or international. The advice I got was to apply to more private schools than public schools because I would be more likely to get into a higher ranked private school than a lower ranked public school. And the advice was right--I didn't get into any UC schools but I did get into some private schools!

If you want some numbers, for most public schools (including the UCs), the fraction of international grad students is 10%. U Wisconsin boasts one of the highest fraction in the country and it's at just below 12%. For private schools, the fraction can be much higher. I think Harvard is around 30%. My school is at 45% on average. The fraction at UC schools isn't any lower than the average, but as I said above, they attract a lot more international applicants!

In general, as an international student (whether you're not American applying to the US, or an American applying outside of the US), you are going to face extra hurdles! Don't give up on your dream schools simply because of this. Instead, factor in these extra difficulties when you decide on where you will be applying. 

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  • 1 month later...

I asked a couple of UC universities about this. My answer from Berkeley: "The answer is that an international student is much more expensive for a department since non resident tuition fees have to be paid by the department. As a consequence, departments have to be conservative about the number of international graduate students they admit but that does not mean we do not admit international graduate students. And when we do we pay for their fees."

From UCSD: "
It is the case that international students are more expensive than US students from the point of view of the department's funds.  However we DO accept international students and have probably six or seven in the program now.  This is pretty much a normal amount of non US for us.  What it means is that it is very competitive for non US students."

Although the costs for each department seem to be the same ($15,000 for an international student in their first year) Berkeley admits way more international students than UCSD, judging by their lists of graduate students.  

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3 hours ago, Cromulent Flurp said:

Although the costs for each department seem to be the same ($15,000 for an international student in their first year) Berkeley admits way more international students than UCSD, judging by their lists of graduate students.  

Well, they matriculate more international students, which is hardly surprising: UCB is way more prestigious than UCSD in practically all disciplines. In connection with that, I suspect that UCB has more funding in general.

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