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Texas Trends as the Third Most Popular US State for International Students

Texas has long been a top US study destination for domestic and international students. Although the number of international students in the US declined in 2020 and 2021, Texas remains in the top three most popular states for international students.1

Last month, we looked at US study trends by diving into incentives for international students to study abroad in Michigan, as part of our series looking into the most popular states in the US international education market. Today, we will be diving into study trends in Texas—the second-largest U.S. state by both area and population.

Key Insights at a Glance

  • 67,000 international students came to study in Texas in 2020/21.
  • The University of Texas at Dallas has been the most popular university in Texas for international students since 2013.
  • Nearly 22% of international students in Texas came from India.
  • Nearly 10% of international students in Dallas came from Nepal.

Texas Study Trends in 2020-21

International study in the US has been on a downward trajectory since the 2014/15 academic year. Despite this drop, Texas remains the largest destination market in the US South.

The line graph below shows that the growth of the international student population in both Texas and the US at large has been slowing down over several years, with Texas resisting this decline ahead of the rest of the US:

Texas has a total of 1.6 million students in higher education. The 62,000 international students in the state represent 4% of Texas’s total student population. This percentage ranks 19th in the nation.

With a decline of nearly 9,700 students, Texas’s international enrolment dropped by 13% in the 2020/21 academic year, which was slightly better than the rest of the US, which saw a 15% decline. This is the first time since 2016 that Texas has trended ahead of the US average.

Top Five Source Markets for Texas Students

Texas is the only state among the top 20 destinations for international students for which India, not China, is the top source country. Both India and Mexico saw their international student populations in the US fall in 2020/21, which contributed to Texas’s overall decline.

Although Texas is the third most popular destination for international students in the country, the state remains an outlier among top host states:

Texas accounted for just under 7% of international students in the United States in 2020/21. Of the 67,000 international students studying in Texas, nearly 22% came from India, and another 19% came from China. In comparison, 8% of students came from Mexico, 6% from Vietnam, and 4% from Nepal.


The Dallas metropolitan area accounted for 2.6% of all international students in the US. Nearly 1 in 3 international students studying in this metro area arrived from India. This is followed by 16% of international students coming from China.

Dallas is attracting Nepali talent with its strong Nepali population and culture hubs. With its pre-existing multicultural communities, Nepal accounted for nearly 10% of international students in Dallas, with one in five Nepalese students in the US last year studying in Dallas in 2020/21.


As the fourth most populous city in the US, with an increasingly diverse population, Houston hosted just under 2% of all international students in the US. With nearly 1 in 5 students coming from China and another 10% from Mexico, Houston has played a large role in the diversification of students coming to study in Texas.

Most Popular Schools in Texas

On average, international students contributed more than $21,000 per student to the state of Texas in 2020/21, whereas, the average financial contribution in the US was $22,000 per international student. Texas features 16 institutions that host more than 1,000 international students.

Which institutions attract the most international students to Texas? Let’s take a look at the past 10 years.

The University of Texas at Dallas took over the number one destination for international students nine years ago.

Let’s take a closer look at the top 3 universities in Texas for international students:

  • University of Texas – Dallas: UT Dallas has been the state’s most popular university for international students since 2013/14. In the 2020/21 academic year, UT Dallas hosted nearly 8,500 international students, a decline of 3.6% from the previous year.
  • Texas A&M University – College Station: Situated in East Central Texas, Texas A&M University hosted over 6,500 international students in 2020/21. Texas A&M University continued its three-year streak as the second highest enrolment for international students despite a 12% drop compared to 2019/20.
  • University of Texas – Austin: Located in the center of Austin, UT Austin saw a 13% drop in international enrolment in 2020/21. After holding a spot in the top 5 for over a decade, in 2019, UT Austin replaced UT Arlington in the list of top 3 universities for the first time in 5 years.

Study and Work in Texas

With a rapidly growing tech sector, Houston hosted the third largest collection of Fortune 500 companies in the US in 2021.2 This growth, combined with a low cost of living for international students compared to other US states, Texas has become a popular destination for students looking to gain experience and study abroad.

Institutions in Texas offer flexible work-study programs for international students attending higher education institutions.

The Texas College Work-Study (TCWS) program provides students with part-time employment and an opportunity to gain work experience.3

Many institutions in Texas offer opportunities for students to take advantage of these lowered tuition rates, including our Applyboard Partner Schools, Texas A&M University – Corpus Christi, Southwestern University, Austin College, University of the Incarnate Word, and Baylor University.

Looking Forward

International students in Texas contributed US $1.47 billion to the state’s economy in 2020/21. On average, international students contributed more than $21,000 per student to the state of Texas in 2020/21, whereas, the average financial contribution in the US was $22,000 per international student.

Despite the decline we saw in the number of international students studying in Texas in 2020/21, Texas remains the third most popular state for international students looking to study in the US. With US President Biden’s commitment to restoring the US’s international reputation, we anticipate positive change for Texas and the rest of the US.

At Applyboard, we are excited by the potential for Texas to continue to climb in ranks as a top destination for international students. Here are our thoughts on how Texan institutions can further engage international students:

  • Promote in-state tuition qualifications and eligibility to prospective students.
  • Emphasize opportunities for students to gain valuable work experience abroad.
  • Leverage pre-existing multicultural communities and welcoming school environments.

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About the ApplyInsights Team

Led by ApplyBoard Co-Founder and CMO Meti Basiri, the ApplyInsights Team analyzes the latest government, third-party, and ApplyBoard internal data, to provide a complete picture of trends in the international education industry. They also work with industry experts and ApplyBoard team members to gather local insights across key source and destination countries, where ApplyBoard has helped more than 300,000 students around the world.



1. All data courtesy of the Institute of International Education (IIE), Open Doors 2021, unless otherwise stated.

2. Greater Houston Partnerships, The Houston Report.

3. Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board, Eligibility for In-State Tuition and State Financial Programs.


The most important stories in international education, backed by data