Thursday, May 7, 2015

What Degrees are Nigerian Students Pursuing?

By Brendan Twist
World Education Services

The number of Nigerians studying in the U.S. continues to grow, slowly but surely, increasing in six of the past seven years. Nigeria is the 18th leading place of origin for the U.S. higher ed sector, making it the only African country in the top 25. Nearly 8,000 Nigerian students came here in 2013-2014, and the growth of the middle class in Nigeria’s urban areas could cause that number to shoot up in the years to come. Nigerian students are also some of WES Student Advisor’s most engaged readers, and we thank them for it!

Here’s a look at the most popular fields of study among Nigerian students, and how they’ve changed or remained constant in recent years.

STEM is Steady

Engineering remains the most popular field among Nigerian students in the U.S. – nearly a quarter of all Nigerians in America study engineering, a figure which has barely changed over the past four years. The STEM fields – including engineering, the health professions, math/computer science, and physical/life science – are home to 56.8 percent of Nigerian students in the U.S., about 15 percent above the average for all international students here. If you’re looking to study STEM, you’d better make sure your grades – and your essay, and your CV, etc. – are up to snuff.

Business isn’t Booming

In the past half-decade, there’s been a drop in the percentage of Nigerian students pursuing business and management degrees in the U.S. – down from 19 percent to about 14. That’s surprising, considering that business and management continue to be the most popular majors overall among international students in the U.S. It could, however, present an opportunity for Nigerian students seeking business degrees – the competition among their peers just isn’t as steep as it was a few years ago.

If not business, then what are these students going to school for instead? It’s not quite clear. The percentages have been consistent for STEM – but also for education, the arts and humanities, and social science. The biggest increase – up to nearly 5 percent – has been among undeclared students. Now, those students could ultimately choose to study business or management – but the data tells us they’re taking longer to decide than in the past.

This could be due in part to a high number of Nigerian undergraduates in the U.S. Just over half of the Nigerian students in the states are pursuing undergrad degrees, while the percentage among international students nationwide is 42. Grad students, naturally, don’t have the option of enrolling undeclared.

Whatever you choose to study, it’s important to think ahead: How will you diversify your application portfolio to stand out from other applicants, Nigerian or otherwise?

Data: Institute of International Education (2014), Open Doors Report on International Educational Exchange.

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