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S&E Doctorates Hit All-time High in 2005
NSF 07-301 | November 2006 | PDF format PDF format  

In 2005, total doctorate awards in science and engineering (S&E) increased for the third year in a row, up to 27,974, surpassing the previous all-time high from 1998 (27,273). The number of S&E doctorate awards increased from 26,272 in 2004 and from 25,274 in 2003. Although there has been a 3-year increase in academic years 2002 through 2005, this follows a 4-year decrease (1998–2002) in S&E doctorate awards. The increase in the number of doctorate awards from 1996 to 2005 was only 2.7% (figure 1).

FIGURE 1. Doctorate awards in S&E and non-S&E fields: 1996–2005.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

Several demographic groups (women, non-U.S. citizens, and U.S. citizen Asians and underrepresented minorities) also received record numbers of S&E doctorates in 2005 (table 1). Post-9/11, there is little evidence of a decline in the number of or growth in noncitizens earning S&E doctorates from U.S. institutions. There was a slight drop in 2002, but that was also true for U.S. citizens. For the entire period from 2001 to 2005, S&E doctorates awarded to noncitizens increased by 25% and accounted for virtually all of the overall growth in S&E doctorate awards during the period.

TABLE 1. S&E doctorate awards, by selected characteristics of doctorate recipients: 2001—05.

  Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

For several S&E fields, the 2005 counts were higher than the previous period of increase in the late 1990s. Fields reaching new highs in 2005 were:

  • Biological sciences (6,368)
  • Engineering (6,404)
  • Mathematics (1,203)
  • Computer sciences (1,136)

Psychology and social sciences, in contrast, remained unchanged from 2004. For the broad non-S&E fields, the 2005 total of 15,380 represented a decline from the all-time high of 15,845 in 2004 (table 2).

TABLE 2. Doctorates awarded, by field of study: 1996–2005.

  Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

In 2005, a total of 19,564 doctorates were awarded to women—10,533 of these in science and engineering fields. The number of female S&E doctorate recipients has continued to increase overall, but their share of each field varies considerably by field of study (table 3).

TABLE 3. Doctorates awarded to women, by field of study: 1996–2005.

  Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

In S&E fields, the concentration of female doctorate recipients in 2005 is highest within psychology (68%), biological sciences (49%), and social sciences (45%) (figure 2).

FIGURE 2. Female doctorate recipients, by field of study: 2005.

  Figure 2 Source Data: Excel file

In the fields where women had the lowest representation there were increases between 1996 and 2005. Female representation (table 3) increased among:

  • Engineering PhDs, from 12% to 18%
  • Physics PhDs, from 13% to 15%
  • Computer science PhDs, from 15% to 20%

Survey Information

The data presented here are from the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) for academic year 2005 (July 2004 to June 2005). Each person completing requirements for a research doctorate from a university in the United States (including Puerto Rico) is given the SED; the survey response rate in 2005 was 92% of the 43,354 new doctorate recipients. The field of study information used in this report was obtained for all doctorate recipients in 2005.

This survey is sponsored by six federal agencies: the National Science Foundation, the National Institutes of Health, the U.S. Department of Education, the U.S. Department of Agriculture, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Additional data are available in the interagency report Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: Summary Report 2005.

The full set of detailed tables from this survey will be available in the report Science and Engineering Doctorate Awards: 2005 at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/doctorates/. Individual detailed tables from the 2005 survey may be available in advance of publication of the full report. For further information, contact

Susan T. Hill
Human Resources Statistics Program
Division of Science Resources Statistics
National Science Foundation
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965
Arlington, VA 22230

National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics
S&E Doctorates Hit All-time High in 2005
Arlington, VA (NSF 07-301) [November 2006]

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