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Graduate Science Enrollments Grow

Graduate Science Enrollments Grow
August 12, 2005

Graduate enrollment in science and engineering programs was up 4.2 percent in 2003, to 474,203, according to a report issued by the National Science Foundation, but the increase was uneven among demographic and disciplinary groups.

Enrollment increases for women outpaced those for men (5.0 percent to 3.7 percent), and the female proportion of total graduate enrollment in science and engineering reached 42 percent in 2003 -- up from 36 percent a decade earlier.

Among U.S. citizens and permanent residents, increases for men exceeded those for women (6.1 to 5.6 percent) and the female gains over all came from foreign enrollments. Male enrollments from outside the United States fell by 0.2 percent while female enrollments increased by 3.2 percent.

Total foreign enrollments in science and engineering graduate programs were up by 0.9 percent in 2003, to 146,871. But that modest increase was largely because of an increase in those who had already started their programs. First-time enrollment in this category fell by 8.1 percent, to 29,574.

The data contained good news for those concerned about the diversity of graduate programs. Among U.S. citizens and permanent residents, members of all racial and ethnic groups showed increases, and the enrollment of all minority groups increased at a faster rate than that of whites. The largest percentage increase -- mirroring a trend among undergraduates -- came in those whose race was unknown or in the "other" category.

Graduate Science and Engineering Enrollments, by Race, of U.S. Citizens in 2003

Race/ethnicity Enrollment 1-Year Increase
White 222,118   4.2%
Asian   32,450 10.6%
Black   24,134   6.4%
Hispanic   21,264   8.3%
American Indian     1,872   7.9%
Other or unknown   25,494 12.2%

Among disciplines, only computer science showed a decrease. But within various categories, increases were not uniform. The increase in biomedical engineering enrollments (22.1 percent) far outpaced engineering over all (6.4 percent). Astronomy was a leader in the physical sciences. Details are in the following table:

Graduate Science and Engineering Enrollments, by Field of Study, 2003

Field of Study Enrollment 1-Year Change
Sciences 346,828 +3.5%
  Agricultural sciences   13,197 +3.9%
  Biological sciences   64,684 +5.8%
  Computer sciences   53,678 -2.9%
  Earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences   14,655 +2.9%
     Atmospheric sciences     1,150 +11.0%
     Geosciences     6,889 +2.6%
     Oceanography     2,695 +2.9%
     Other earth sciences     3,921 +1.2%
  Mathematical sciences   19,465 +7.2%
  Physical sciences   34,298 +6.1%
     Astronomy     1,080 +9.1%
     Chemistry   20,049 +5.3%
     Physics   12,555 +7.3%
     Other physical sciences        614 +1.5%
  Psychology   52,025 +1.7%
 Social sciences   94,826 +5.1%
     Agricultural economics      2,296 +5.0%
     Anthropology      7,806 +4.3%
     Economics    12,307 +2.5%
     Geography      4,654 +6.2%
     History and philosophy of science         677 +2.1%
     Linguistics      3,028 +5.3%
     Political science   36,855 +5.5%
    Sociology     9,127 +2.0%
    Sociology/anthropology        773 +7.5%
    Other social sciences   17,303 +8.0%
Engineering 127,375 +6.4%
  Aerospace engineering     4,048 +9.9%
  Biomedical engineering     5,347 +22.1%
 Chemical engineering     7,516 +1.4%
 Civil engineering   18,838 +6.4%
 Electrical engineering   41,745 +4.5%
 Industrial/manufacturing engineering   14,295 +1.9%
 Mechanical engineering   18,440 +7.6%
 Metallurgical/materials engineering     5,154 +3.2%
 Other engineering   11,992 +15.7%

 

 

 

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