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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:
Overview
Master's degrees
Doctorates
Sources of financial support
Demographic characteristics
Satisfaction with field of doctoral program
Postgraduation plans and postdoctoral fellowships
References
 
Sidebars
Appendix Tables
List of Figures
Presentation Slides

Graduate Degrees

Master's degrees

Women
Minorities
Minority women
Students with disabilities

The number of master's degrees awarded in science and engineering increased 21 percent from 1990 to 1998, rising from 77,788 to 93,918. (See appendix table 5-1.) Concurrently, the number of master's degrees in non-S&E fields increased 37 percent from 247,159 to 337,953.

Women  top of page

In S&E fields, both the number of women earning master's degrees and their representation among all students earning master's degrees rose steadily during the 1990s. At the beginning of the decade, women earned 26,558, or 34 percent, of all S&E master's degrees; by 1998, they earned 38,583, or 41 percent. (See appendix table 5-2.) The number of S&E master's degrees earned by men also increased over this time, rising from 51,230 in 1990 to 55,335 in 1998; this growth, however, occurred at a much slower rate than that for women. (See figure 5-1 figure.)

Women earn a smaller percentage of the master's degrees than they do of the bachelor's degrees awarded in science and engineering. In 1998, women earned 41 percent of the master's degrees and 49 percent of the bachelor's degrees awarded in S&E fields. (See appendix tables 5-2 and 3-4.) In non-S&E fields, on the other hand, women earn about the same proportion of master's degrees as of bachelor's degrees, receiving 62 percent of the master's degrees and 60 percent of the bachelor's degrees awarded in non-S&E fields in 1998.

Women's share of S&E master's degrees varies by field. In 1998, women earned their highest shares of S&E master's degrees in psychology (73 percent), the social sciences (51 percent), and the biological sciences (53 percent); they received their lowest share in engineering (20 percent). (See appendix table 5-2.) The number and percentage of master's degrees awarded to women in all major S&E fields except mathematics have increased since 1990.

Women are more likely than men to expect to end their S&E graduate education at the master's degree level and are consequently less likely than men to expect to earn doctoral degrees. Among graduate S&E students in the 1995/96 academic year, 72 percent of females and 58 percent of males reported that they expected to earn a master's degree as their highest degree; 28 percent of female and 42 percent of male graduate students expected to earn a doctoral degree. (See text table 5-1 text table.)

Minorities  top of page

The number of S&E master's degrees awarded increased for all racial/ethnic groups—except white men—during the 1990s.[1] The percentages of master's degrees earned by Asians, blacks, Hispanics, and American Indians also increased from 1990 to 1998. (See figure 5-2 figure.)

In 1998, 379,666 master's degrees were awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents; of these, 65,748—17 percent—were in S&E. (See appendix table 5-3.) Asians earned a higher percentage of their total master's degrees in S&E than did other racial/ethnic groups: almost one-third (31 percent) of all master's degrees awarded to Asians in 1998 were in S&E fields. In contrast, 18 percent of all master's degrees awarded to Hispanics and American Indians, 17 percent to whites, and 13 percent to blacks were in S&E fields. (See text table 5-2 text table.)

The percentage of graduate students in S&E expecting to end their graduate education with a master's degree does not differ much by race/ethnicity—63 percent of white, 64 percent of Asian, and 69 percent of underrepresented minority (i.e., combined black, non-Hispanic; Hispanic; and American Indian) graduate students in the 1995/96 academic year expected their highest degree earned to be a master's degree. (See text table 5-1 text table.)

Asians  top of page

Asians earned 6,178 master's degrees in S&E in 1998, up from 4,055 in 1990. By 1998, Asians accounted for 9 percent of all S&E master's degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents, up from 7 percent in 1990. (See appendix table 5-3.) In contrast, they earned 4 percent of the master's degrees awarded in 1998 in non-S&E fields.

Asians earned an increasing percentage of the master's degrees in each major S&E field from 1990 to 1998. The increases were particularly large in computer science, where they earned 13 percent of the master's degrees in 1990 and 23 percent in 1998. Computer science and engineering together accounted for 64 percent of the S&E master's degrees earned by Asians. These two fields accounted for just 36 percent of the S&E master's degrees awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of all racial/ethnic groups combined.

Blacks  top of page

Blacks earned 3,756 S&E master's degrees in 1998, or 6 percent of the total; this was up from 1,847 (3 percent) in 1990. (See appendix table 5-3.) They earned 8 percent of the master's degrees in non-S&E fields.

The percentage of master's degrees earned by blacks in each of the major S&E fields increased between 1990 and 1998. In some fields, the numbers more than doubled and the percentages increased considerably over the period. For example, the number of master's degrees awarded to blacks in mathematics rose from 70 to 150 between 1990 and 1998; in the agricultural sciences, this increase was from 28 to 95; in the social sciences, from 462 to 1,012; and in psychology, from 471 to 1,073. The social sciences and psychology together accounted for 56 percent of the S&E master's degrees earned by blacks in 1998. In comparison, 41 percent of the S&E master's degrees earned by all U.S. citizens and permanent residents were in these fields.

Hispanics  top of page

Trends in master's degrees earned by Hispanics were similar to those for blacks. Hispanics earned 3,071 S&E master's degrees in 1998, or 5 percent of the total earned by all U.S. citizens and permanent residents. (See appendix table 5-3.) This was an increase from the 1,587 master's degrees (3 percent of total) earned by Hispanics in 1990. Hispanics earned 5 percent of the master's degrees awarded in non-S&E fields in 1998.

The percentage of master's degrees earned by Hispanics in each of the major S&E fields increased between 1990 and 1998. As with blacks, the numbers of master's degrees earned by Hispanics more than doubled in some fields over the period. In the agricultural sciences, the number of master's degrees earned by Hispanics rose from 44 in 1990 to 116 in 1998; in psychology, the increase was from 369 to 851. Also, as was the case for blacks and American Indians (see below), the social sciences and psychology are the most prevalent degree fields for this group: Hispanics earned half of their S&E master's degrees in these two fields in 1998.

American Indians  top of page

American Indians earned 349 master's degrees in S&E in 1998, up from 181 in 1990. (See appendix table 5-3.) The overall proportion of S&E master's degrees earned by American Indians increased from 0.3 percent in 1990 to 0.5 percent in 1998. American Indians also earned 0.5 percent of all non-S&E master's degrees awarded in 1998.

More than half (58 percent) of the S&E master's degrees earned by American Indians in 1998 were in the social sciences and psychology, compared with 41 percent of the S&E master's degrees earned by all U.S. citizens and permanent residents.

Minority women  top of page

Disaggregating S&E master's degree awards by sex and race/ethnicity reveals that the numbers awarded to women and to men in each racial/ethnic group increased over the 1990–98 period with a single exception—awards made to white men. (See appendix tables 5-4 and 5-5.) Among Asian, black, and Hispanic men and women, the increases occurred in all major S&E fields. The numbers of master's degrees in computer science and mathematics dropped for white men and women; the numbers of master's degrees in engineering and the physical sciences dropped for white men.

Women earned 40 percent of all S&E master's degrees awarded in 1998 and 43 percent of those awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Among blacks, women earned 56 percent of the master's degrees awarded in S&E to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Among American Indians, women earned 50 percent of the S&E master's degrees. Within each of the other racial/ethnic groups, women earned less than half of the S&E master's degrees awarded: Hispanic women earned 48 percent, white women earned 43 percent, and Asian women earned 40 percent of the master's degrees awarded to their respective racial/ethnic group. Women of "other" race/ethnicity earned 41 percent of the master's degrees in that racial/ethnic group. (See figure 5-3 figure.)

Students with disabilities  top of page

The Federal Government does not collect data on master's degrees awarded to persons with disabilities. The National Science Foundation does not collect data on master's degrees; the National Center for Education Statistics—although it does collect data on master's degrees from colleges and universities—does not ask for the number of degrees earned by students with disabilities. As noted in the previous chapter, data on individuals' disabilities are usually not included in comprehensive institutional student records. Therefore, enrollment and degree data collected from colleges and universities are not reported by disability status.




Footnotes

[1]  Data in this section refer to U.S. citizens and permanent residents only.

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