Q: I am a new graduate student in Computer Engineering. I would like to get my MS and possibly my Ph.D. I have learned that 90% of my department is from India and many others are from China. All the students come here to study and there are only 7 US citizens in the engineering program this year. Why is that? I have heard that many of the smarter Americans go into medicine or the law and that is why there are so few Americans in engineering. Is this true?
A: Most Americans are probably happy with just an undergrad degree and don’t want to go to grad school.
Exactly. Americans find perfectly good engineering jobs with “just” a bachelor’s degree. There aren’t enough jobs which require advanced degrees in engineering to make it worth the time to give up 2-3 years of engineering paychecks, pay for college, pay for books, pay for living expenses, and earn those advanced degrees. More than likely, you’d graduate with a master’s or a PhD and work at the same job you could get with a bachelor’s degree.
On the other hand, foreigners looking to immigrate to the United States work under the assumption that if they go to school here and earn one of our advanced degrees, then we’d be more likely to allow them to stay once their studies are complete. THAT is why foreigners outnumber Americans in these topics. It’s not because they’re smarter, not because they love engineering more, and not because education is better in their country. It’s because they want to immigrate here.