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women and minorities
Introduction Chapter 1: Precollege Education Chapter 2: Undergraduate Enrollment Chapter 3: Undergraduate Degrees Chapter 4: Graduate Enrollment Chapter 5: Graduate Degrees Chapter 6: Employment Technical Notes Appendix Tables
Chapter Contents:
Transition to graduate school
Enrollment trends
Field of study
Enrollment status
Sources of financial support
Debt at graduation
Appendix Tables
List of Figures
Presentation Slides

Graduate Enrollment

Sources of financial support
Students with disabilities

Women  top of page

Institutional support was the most prevalent primary source of support for both men and women enrolled as full-time graduate students in science and engineering: 43 percent of men and 44 percent of women relied primarily on such support to finance their graduate education. Women are more likely than men to rely primarily on self-support: in 1999, 33 percent of women compared to 25 percent of men relied primarily on self-support to finance their graduate education. Federal support, on the other hand, was more likely to be the primary source of support for men than for women: 22 percent of men and 17 percent of women primarily financed their graduate education in this way. [9] (See appendix table 4-16.)

Primary source of support varies greatly by field. For example, only 5 percent of graduate students in the physical sciences relied primarily on self-support, compared to 48 percent of those in psychology, 47 percent of those in computer science, and 40 percent of those in the social sciences. The percentages of graduate students funded primarily by Federal sources ranged from 6 percent in the social sciences to 35 percent in the physical and biological sciences. Reliance on institutional support ranged from 31 percent in computer science to 70 percent in mathematics.

Differences in field account for some of the differences between men and women in their respective sources of support. Thus, within engineering, the primary sources of financial support for male and female graduate students were quite similar: 25 percent of men and 26 percent of women relied primarily on self-support, 24 percent of men and 22 percent of women relied on Federal support, and 36 percent of men and 40 percent of women relied on institutional support. In the sciences, female graduate students were more likely than male to be self-supported (34 versus 25 percent), and they were less likely than males to have Federal support (17 versus 22 percent). As noted earlier, women account for more than half of the graduate students in psychology and the social sciences, fields in which large percentages of students rely primarily on self-support and small percentages of students rely primarily on Federal support. Within science fields, the differences between male and female graduate students in source of support were generally smaller. In each broad science field, however, a lower percentage of female full-time graduate students than male had Federal support, and a higher percentage relied primarily on self-support.

Minorities  top of page

Among U.S. citizen and permanent resident S&E graduate students enrolled full time for the full year, a smaller proportion of Asians (21 percent) received loans than of whites (36 percent) or of underrepresented minorities—i.e., blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians (43 percent). On the other hand, larger percentages of Asians than of other groups received research assistantships and teaching assistantships. (See appendix table 4-17.) A larger share of underrepresented minorities than of whites or Asians received grants. These differences may be due—at least in part—to variations in field as well as eligibility for various types of aid. For example, Asians who entered graduate school as students initially on temporary visas may not have been eligible for many Federal loan programs, but would have been eligible for research assistantships.

Students with disabilities  top of page

Although the National Center for Education Statistics, through its National Postsecondary Student Aid Study, collects data on disability status and provides information on field and enrollment status, the number of graduate students with disabilities in the study's sample is too small to generate reliable data on financial support for those in S&E programs.


[9]  Federal support may be directly provided to the student through fellowships or traineeships or indirectly provided through research assistantships.

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