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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

Debt at graduation
Students with disabilities

At the time of doctoral degree conferral, differences exist between men and women, the various racial/ethnic groups, and graduates with and without disabilities in terms of their respective financial indebtedness.[10] Many of these differences are due to variations in field of degree. Psychology doctorate recipients, for example, are much more likely to have debt and report higher levels of debt than those with degrees in other S&E fields (NSF/SRS 2000). Psychology awards more than twice as many doctorates to women as to men and awards larger shares to blacks and Hispanics than does any other broad field.

Women  top of page

Overall, 39 percent of U.S. citizens receiving S&E doctorates between 1995 and 1999 reported no accumulated debt at the time of their doctoral degree award. A smaller percentage of women than of men reported not having any debt at all—37 versus 40 percent—and a larger percentage of women than of men reported having more than $30,000 in debt—13 versus 10 percent. (See appendix table 4-18.) Most of the overall difference in debt, as noted above, is field-related. Female S&E graduate students are far more likely than men to be in psychology departments, and psychology graduate students are far more likely to report debt than their peers in other S&E fields. Within most S&E fields, men are less likely to have no debt than women. In all fields except computer science and the social sciences, men are more likely than women to report debt over $30,000.

Minorities  top of page

Similarly, smaller percentages of blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians than of whites or Asians were debt free, and larger percentages reported debt over $30,000. Asians were the most likely of any racial/ethnic group to report no debt at all. These differences hold across most broad fields of S&E. Within most broad fields, black and Hispanic graduate students were less likely than whites and Asians to report no debt and more likely than other groups to report debt over $30,000. (See appendix table 4-19.)

Students with disabilities  top of page

Recipients of S&E doctoral degrees in 1995–99 who had disabilities were more likely than those without to report high levels of debt: 19 percent of those with disabilities and 11 percent of those without disabilities had debt over $30,000 at the time they graduated. Disaggregating by field does not eliminate these differences—within each broad S&E field, students with disabilities were more likely than those without to report more than $30,000 of debt. (See appendix table 4-20.)


[10]  Student debt covers expenses incurred during undergraduate and/or graduate education for tuition, fees, living expenses, supplies, and transportation.

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