Doctorate Trends: U.S. Government Report

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The National Science Foundation released its annual report on doctorate recipients in the U.S. on Friday, “Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities.” The following are the key highlights:

  • Overall: 54,070 research doctorate were awarded by U.S. institutions in 2014 (latest year)—the most ever and a number that grows 3.4% annually.
  • S&E: The percentage of all PhDs who are in science and engineering (S&E) has grown from 58% to 75% in 2014.
  • Non-U.S. Students: The number of S&E doctorates awarded to temporary U.S. visa holders has grown 45% since to 2004 to 13,739.
  • The Big Three: Students from China, India and South Korea account for more than half of all U.S. doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders between 2004 and 2014.
  • Women: Women earned 46% of all U.S. doctorates in S&E in 2014, nearly twice the number of S&E doctorates awarded to women in 1994.
  • Blacks & Hispanics: The number of doctorates awarded to African Americans since 1994 has grown 70%, from 4.1% of all doctorates in 1994 to 6.4% in 2014. The percentage of Hispanic doctorates has grown from 3.3% to 6.5%.
  • Fields of Study: “In 2014, Asians were the largest U.S. minority population in life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering; blacks or African Americans were the largest U.S. minority population in education and other non-S&E fields; and Hispanics or Latinos earned more doctorates in humanities than did any other minority group.”
  • Financial Support: “The proportion of doctoral students relying on fellowships or grants as their most important source of financial support has remained relatively stable since 2004.”
  • Financial Support by Discipline: “In 2014, fellowships or grants were the most common primary source of support for doctoral students in life sciences. Research assistantships were
    the dominant source of support in physical sciences and in engineering, and teaching assistantships were the most common source for doctoral students in humanities.”
  • Debt: “In 2014, more than two-thirds of doctorate recipients in life sciences and more than three-quarters of those in physical sciences and engineering reported no debt related to their graduate education when they were awarded the doctorate.”
  • Debt by Discipline: “The shares of doctoral graduates with education-related debt burdens over $30,000 were greatest in the social sciences (34%), education (37%), humanities (29%), and other non-S&E fields (31%).”
  • Less Work: “The proportion of doctorate recipients with definite commitments for employment or postdoc study declined in 2014 for the fifth time in the past 6 years in every broad non-S&E field of study.”
  • Salaries: “In 2014, doctorate recipients who had definite commitments for a postdoc or other employed position in the United States in the coming year reported annual salaries ranging from $40,000 to $105,000, depending on their field of study and the type of position to which they committed.”

These bullets only graze the depth of information in “Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2014.” To see the full report, go here.

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