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More Doctors of Philosophy (and Science)

More Doctors of Philosophy (and Science)
November 21, 2007

The number of doctoral degrees awarded by American universities climbed by 5.1 percent in 2006, to a record high of 45,596, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Science Foundation.

Those who have sounded the alarm about the country's perceived underproduction of skilled scientists and engineers may be heartened by the fact that almost all of the overall increase -- 1,865 of the 2,211 more doctorates awarded in 2006 than 2005 -- came in science and engineering fields.

But 1,521 more doctorates were granted in 2006 than in 2005 to scholars who are not U.S. citizens, more than two-thirds of all of the new Ph.D.'s and other terminal degrees awarded. In total, foreign born researchers accounted for nearly 35 percent of all doctorates granted in 2006 (15,947 of 45,596), and for 43 percent of the Ph.D.'s awarded in scientific and engineering fields (12,775 of 29,854). Non-citizens accounted for more than 70 percent of doctorate recipients in electrical, civil and industrial/mechanical engineering, and more than half of Ph.D. recipients in all other engineering fields, computer sciences, math and physics.

The data, which provide the first look at the production of doctorates in the 2005-6 academic year, come from the Survey of Earned Doctorates, an annual study sponsored by six federal agencies: the U.S. Departments of Education and Agriculture, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Institutes of Health, and the NSF.

The NSF data focus on Ph.D. production in the sciences, and provide significantly less detail about non-science fields -- detailed information about the breakdowns in humanities and social science disciplines are available in the full report of the Survey of Earned Doctorates, which the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Council, which conducts the survey, posted on its Web site Wednesday.

As seen in the table below, the increase in doctorate production in the sciences was driven largely by growth in the biological sciences, chemistry, computer sciences, and electrical engineering, all of which experienced growth of at least 200 doctorates (mathematics and mechanical engineering also fared well). Psychology and agricultural sciences suffered small declines.

Outside the sciences, universities awarded about 3.5 percent more Ph.D.'s and other doctorates in the humanities in 2006 than in 2005, about 6.8 percent more in health fields, and about 6.4 percent more in professional or other fields. The number of doctorates awarded in education declined, to 6,124 from 6,226, but more doctorates were awarded in education than in any field other than the biological sciences.

Doctorates Awarded by American Universities, 2000-2006

Field 2000 2001 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
All fields 41,365 40,737 40,025 40,757 42,123 43,385 45,596
Science and engineering 25,971 25,532 24,609 25,282 26,275 27,989 29,854
--Science 20,648 20,021 19,530 20,002 20,498 21,564 22,663
----Agricultural sciences 1,042 978 1,010 1,061 1,045 1,038 1,033
----Biological sciences 5,853 5,697 5,694 5,695 5,940 6,368 6,631
----Computer sciences 860 830 810 866 948 1,130 1,452
----Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences 694 660 689 683 686 714 757
----Mathematics 1,050 1,011 920 993 1,076 1,205 1,327
----Physical sciences 3,378 3,364 3,186 3,289 3,338 3,645 3,925
------Astronomy 185 186 141 167 165 186 197
------Chemistry 1,989 1,981 1,922 2,041 1,987 2,126 2,363
------Physics 1,204 1,197 1,123 1,081 1,186 1,333 1,365
----Psychology 3,617 3,399 3,207 3,276 3,327 3,323 3,263
----Social sciences 4,154 4,082 4,014 4,139 4,138 4,141 4,275
               
--Engineering 5,323 5,511 5,079 5,280 5,777 6,425 7,191
----Aeronautical/ astronautical engineering 214 203 209 200 201 219 238
----Chemical engineering 726 730 705 649 726 875 893
----Civil engineering 556 595 627 673 673 758 803
----Electrical engineering 1,543 1,579 1,394 1,465 1,651 1,851 2,133
----Industrial/manufacturing engineering 176 206 230 214 217 221 235
----Materials/metallurgical engineering 451 497 396 474 511 540 624
----Mechanical engineering 864 953 827 814 852 978 1,148
----Other engineering 793 748 691 791 946 983 1,117
               
--Non-science and engineering 15,394 15,205 15,416 15,475 15,848 15,396 15,742
----Education 6,438 6,348 6,503 6,643 6,635 6,226 6,124
----Health 1,590 1,541 1,654 1,633 1,720 1,785 1,906
----Humanities 5,212 5,177 5,051 5,020 5,013 4,949 5,121
----Professional/other/unknown 2,154 2,139 2,208 2,179 2,480 2,436 2,591

Men and women shared almost equally in the increases in doctoral degrees awarded in science and engineering fields, as seen in the table below. And Hispanic Americans saw a slightly bigger proportional increase in their share of the new doctorates awarded than did any other racial group.

Ph.D. Recipients in Science and Engineering Fields 2002-6, by Gender and Race

Characteristic 2002 2003 2004 2005 2006
All recipients 24,609 25,282 26,275 27,989 29,854
Male 15,388 15,763 16,418 17,407 18,341
Female 9,172 9,519 9,856 10,539 11,469
           
U.S. citizen 14,363 14,641 14,743 14,911 15,459
--American Indian/Alaska Native 66 72 59 66 47
--Asian 1,038 1,008 1,066 1,114 1,164
--Black 637 615 689 640 664
--Hispanic 652 659 645 725 786
--White 11,504 11,618 11,632 11,844 12,227
--Other 321 436 475 395 412
Non-U.S. citizen 8,867 9,484 10,158 11,519 12,775

Of the 15,947 doctorates awarded to non-U.S. citizens, 1,829 went to permanent residents of the United States and 14,118 to those in the country on temporary visas. The table below shows the representation of foreign-born scholars among the Ph.D. recipients in various fields in 2006:

Field Percent
All fields 37.2
Science and engineering 45.2
--Science 38.2
----Agricultural sciences 43.9
----Biological sciences 34.0
----Computer sciences 64.8
----Earth, atmospheric, ocean sciences 37.6
----Mathematics 57.2
----Physical sciences 50.6
----Psychology 10.5
----Social sciences 37.8
----Engineering 67.7
   
Non-science and engineering 21.7
--Education 12.9
--Health 27.7
--Humanities 20.8
--Professional/other/unknown 39.9

 

 

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