Fostering Global Citizenship: America's 10 Strongest International Student Communities

Fostering Global Citizenship: America’s 10 Strongest International Student Communities

As an international student in the United States, you’re embarking on an exciting journey to pursue your education abroad. Along with learning in a world-class university, studying in America offers the opportunity to build connections across borders and cultures. Some schools stand out for fostering a strong sense of community among international students. These universities not only provide resources to help you adapt to life in a new country, but they make it easy to connect with fellow students from around the world. Fostering Global Citizenship.

Building friendships with people from diverse backgrounds enhances your experience as a global citizen and helps you develop skills that will benefit you for life. The following 10 schools have established exceptional programs and support systems for international students looking to thrive in a multicultural environment.

What Makes a Strong International Student Community?

For international students, a strong, welcoming community is essential for success and well-being in an unfamiliar place far from home. What makes a university appealing and supportive for those from abroad? Several key factors define a robust international student community.

Diverse, inclusive environment

A mix of nationalities, ethnicities and cultures on campus indicates an environment open to varied perspectives. Universities that value diversity and promote inclusion through clubs, events and mentorship programs are more likely to foster a sense of belonging among international students.

Resources and support

From orientation to healthcare to career assistance, resources aimed specifically at international students ease the transition to a new academic and cultural experience. Support programs connect students with mentors and advisors to help navigate challenges.

Opportunities for cultural exchange

International clubs, language partners, global living-learning communities and intercultural events create opportunities for cultural exchange. Spaces where students can share traditions, try new cuisines and forge meaningful connections with domestic and other international students cultivate understanding and friendship.

Integration with domestic students

Programming and events that bring together international and domestic students in meaningful interactions are key. Cross-cultural friendships and experiences on campus help international students feel welcomed and valued by the broader university community. Collaborations and conversations across cultures benefit all students.

With a vibrant, globally engaged campus environment, strong resources tailored to their needs, opportunities to share and learn from diverse cultures, and integration into the wider student community, international students can find a home away from home. The most appealing schools foster a spirit of openness, support, and shared understanding across borders.

The University of Southern California: A Global Hub in Los Angeles

The University of Southern California, located in the heart of Los Angeles, is a hub for international students seeking a world-class education. USC enrolls over 10,000 international students from 115 countries, making up 20% of the total student population.

Diverse Campus Community

USC fosters a diverse, multicultural campus environment where international students can connect with peers from around the globe. There are numerous international student organizations and clubs representing regions from Asia to Africa to Europe. Events like International Education Week and cultural nights celebrate the global community.

Academic Excellence for Fostering Global Citizenship

USC offers high-quality programs across disciplines, from architecture and engineering to cinematic arts and public policy. There are many opportunities for interdisciplinary study, internships, and research with world-renowned faculty. USC’s location in LA also provides connections to major media, technology, and research centers.

Support Services

USC provides international students with resources to help them adjust to life in the U.S. and succeed academically. Services include airport pickup, housing assistance, health insurance, and counseling. The American Language Institute offers English language and cultural orientation programs.

With its diverse, supportive community, prestigious academics, and location in a global city, USC creates an ideal environment for international students to pursue their dreams while gaining a profoundly global education. By fostering meaningful interactions between international and domestic students, USC is shaping the next generation of global citizens and leaders.

Columbia University: Diverse Perspectives in New York City

Columbia University, located in the heart of New York City, fosters a diverse, globally-minded student community. Over 35% of Columbia’s undergraduate and graduate students come from outside the U.S., representing more than 150 countries.###

Columbia provides numerous opportunities for international students to connect with each other and gain exposure to different cultures. The International Students and Scholars Office hosts social and cultural events, as well as orientation programs to help new international students transition to life at Columbia and in NYC. Student groups like the International Students Association and cultural organizations offer additional ways for students to bond over shared nationalities or world regions.

Living in New York City also exposes international students to diverse perspectives. As a cultural melting pot, NYC provides endless opportunities for students to learn about other cultures through cuisine, cultural events, and simple daily interactions. Museums, cultural centers, and places of worship representing faiths and nationalities from around the world can be found throughout the city.

Academically, Columbia encourages students to think globally and challenge their preconceptions through its Core Curriculum which includes courses in cultures, values, and global power. Students frequently engage in debates and discussions around complex global issues. Many students also pursue degrees in international studies, public policy, human rights, and development.

Overall, Columbia University’s diverse, internationally-focused community and New York City setting provide the optimal environment for students to gain cross-cultural knowledge and become true global citizens. Between connecting with other international students, exploring different cultures within NYC, and participating in Columbia’s globally-minded curriculum, students develop a wider perspective of the world beyond their home country’s borders.

The University of Michigan: A Vibrant Mix in Ann Arbor

The University of Michigan in Ann Arbor fosters a vibrant, diverse community of over 6,000 international students representing over 100 countries.

A Global Education

At Michigan, international students can pursue over 200 academic programs while gaining valuable intercultural experience. The Global Course Connections program pairs domestic and international students in courses across disciplines to facilitate cultural exchange. Students also have opportunities to study or intern abroad at one of UM’s partner institutions in over 25 countries.

A Supportive Environment

UM provides a welcoming environment for international students through initiatives like the International Center, English Language Institute, and housing accommodations. The International Center offers advising on immigration, cultural adjustment, and personal well-being. The English Language Institute provides English language courses and learning communities for non-native speakers. On-campus housing is available to all students, with cultural interest communities that foster cross-cultural friendships.

An Engaged Community

International students at UM actively participate in over 1,000 student organizations, including 25+ cultural interest groups. Student organizations like the International Student Association, Chinese Students and Scholars Association, and Indian Students Association organize cultural celebrations, mentorship programs, and community service events. Annual campus traditions like MASA’s International Food Fair, Japan Fest, and Holi showcase the diversity of student cultures.

Career Success

UM provides resources to help international students achieve their career goals in the US or abroad. The International Center offers workshops on topics like writing resumes, networking, and job searching as an international student. Students can connect with alumni mentors and recruiters at events like the International Student Career Conference. Optional practical training allows students to gain work experience through internships, co-op programs, or temporary employment in the US for up to 12 months during or after their studies.

At the University of Michigan, international students find a supportive community that fosters meaningful cultural exchange and helps them develop skills for success in an increasingly globalized world. The vibrant mix of cultures and opportunities for global learning at UM create an ideal environment for developing global citizenship.

10 US Universities With the Strongest International Student Communities

When choosing a university, international students consider many factors. A supportive community with cultural diversity and opportunities for global connections is highly valued. The following 10 US universities are renowned for fostering a vibrant international student community:

The University of Southern California hosts over 13,000 international students from more than 140 countries. The USC International Academy and International Student Assembly promote cross-cultural exchange. Students praise the diverse, tight-knit community.

New York University has a global campus network and strong international partnerships. Over 19,000 international students from more than 130 countries are drawn to NYU for its cultural diversity and study abroad programs. Students find a welcoming community in NYU’s international houses and cultural clubs.

The University of California, Los Angeles welcomes nearly 15,000 international students from 115 countries. UCLA promotes global citizenship through community service groups, cultural nights, and global leadership programs. Students highlight the open, inclusive environment and chance to connect with diverse cultures.

Purdue University has a long history of international engagement. Over 9,000 international students from over 130 countries are attracted to Purdue’s academic excellence and International Student Organizations that foster cross-cultural connections. Students emphasize the collaborative, globally-minded community.

Northeastern University’s global campus network, study abroad programs, and cooperative education model attract over 6,500 international students from over 130 countries. Northeastern’s International Student and Scholar Services and cultural clubs help students build a close-knit, intercultural community. Students praise the welcoming, globally-focused environment.

The remaining universities on the list with notable international student communities are: University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; University of Michigan-Ann Arbor; University of Texas at Austin; University of Washington-Seattle; and Boston University. These schools offer inclusive environments, cultural diversity, and opportunities to develop meaningful global connections.

In summary, US universities that actively promote diversity, inclusiveness and cross-cultural exchange tend to have the strongest international student communities. By valuing global citizenship, these schools create supportive environments where students from all over the world can learn, grow, and connect.


You have seen how these 10 universities are fostering global citizenship by cultivating strong international student communities on their campuses. By providing resources and support for students from around the world, they are creating environments where diverse perspectives and experiences can be shared. The friendships and connections formed between domestic and international students at these schools often last long after graduation.

As the world becomes increasingly interconnected, the value of exposure to other cultures will only grow. Universities that prioritize global engagement and bring together students from different backgrounds are helping to shape citizens of the world.

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