The data presented in this report show trends in doctorate awards by science and engineering (S&E) field and recipient characteristics, institutions awarding doctorates, and postgraduation plans of recipients. The source of the data is the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED). The data were developed as part of the Doctorate Data Project. The Doctorate Data Project consists of the Survey of Earned Doctorates (a census of research doctorate recipients) and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (a biennial survey of the employment of doctoral scientists and engineers).
The SED is conducted annually for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and five other federal agencies (NEH, NIH, USDA, USED, NASA). Information from this survey becomes part of the Doctorate Records File, which is a census, begun in 1920, of individuals who have received research doctorates from regionally accredited universities and colleges in the United States. Doctoral degrees, such as the Ph.D. or D.Sc., are included in these surveys, but first professional degrees, such as the J.D. or M.D., are not.
Data for the SED are collected directly from individual doctorate recipients. The questionnaire is distributed through the cooperation of the graduate deans to persons as they are completing their doctorate. The data for a given year include all doctorates awarded in the 12-month period ending on June 30 of that year.
These tables present detailed data on S&E doctorate recipients, with some totals provided for broad non-S&E fields in most tables. Detailed data on all fields of study are published annually in the interagency report Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities: Summary Report. Data are also provided by the other federal agencies that sponsor the Survey of Earned Doctorates; the groupings of field specialties into broad fields may differ among the sponsoring agencies according to their missions.
Almost 91 percent of doctorate recipients in 2004 responded to the questionnaire. Over the period 1995–2004, the response rate varied between 91 and 95 percent. Most of the numbers presented are actual self-reports, as there are no adjustments for nonresponse. For the nonrespondents, partial data from public sources are added to the file; therefore, more complete counts are presented for conferred doctorates by field of study and sex of recipient. Because some tables present data subject to nonresponse, these summaries represent the conservative known responses for any data item. Therefore, small changes in numbers should be interpreted with caution, as numerical trends are affected by fluctuations in response rates, and declines and increases may appear greater than they actually are.
Further information on the survey methodology and other data on S&E doctorate recipients is available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/doctorates.