Science and Engineering Degrees, by Race/Ethnicity of Recipients: 1995-2004
Appendix A. Technical Notes
This report is based on final data from two federal surveys. The first is the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Completions Survey, conducted annually by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The second is the Survey of Earned Doctorates, conducted annually for the National Science Foundation (NSF) and other federal agencies (five between 1997 and 2004). Each source is described in more detail in the following sections.
Data from the IPEDS Completions Survey were used to report the number of bachelor's and master's degrees. The data on doctoral degrees were derived from the Survey of Earned Doctorates, which surveys all individuals earning research doctorates, rather than from the Completions Survey, which surveys the institutions awarding the doctorates. The Survey of Earned Doctorate data were preferred because the data provided by individuals are more specific with respect to the field of specialization and are less likely to contain errors in data reporting and data entry than are the aggregate data provided by institutions. Furthermore, doctorate data provide almost complete coverage for data by field and sex of individual recipients, whereas institutional data are subject to imputation for nonresponse. For a comparison of reporting on doctoral degrees in the Completions Survey and the Survey of Earned Doctorates, see Science and Engineering Doctorates: 1960–91, NSF 93-301, Detailed Statistical Tables (Washington, DC, 1993).
The race and ethnicity of U.S. citizens and permanent resident aliens who received degrees during the period 1995–2004 are reported. The following five racial/ethnic categories were the standard in federal government surveys of institutions in this reporting period:
Black, non-Hispanic—A person having origins in any of the black racial groups of Africa (except those of Hispanic origin).
American Indian or Alaskan Native—A person having origins in any of the original peoples of North America and who maintains cultural identification through tribal affiliation or community recognition.
Data on doctoral degrees in this report are reported using the term Alaska Native, rather than Alaskan Native, for the period 2001–04.
Asian or Pacific Islander—A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, the Indian Subcontinent, or the Pacific Islands. These areas include, for example, China, Japan, Korea, the Philippine Islands, and Samoa.
For data on doctoral degrees in this report, Native Hawaiians and other Pacific Islanders are included within the category "Asian" for the period 1995–2000. For the period 2001–04, this group is included within the category "other/unknown race/ethnicity."
Hispanic—A person of Mexican, Puerto Rican, Cuban, Central or South American, or other Spanish culture or origin, regardless of race.
White, non-Hispanic—A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Europe, North Africa, or the Middle East (except those of Hispanic origin).
Persons who are U.S. citizens or foreign citizens admitted for permanent residence are classified into the above categories. The ethnic category of Hispanic took precedence over the racial categories in the data collection. In addition, nonresident aliens, i.e., those admitted to the United States for temporary residence, are separately identified as a sixth category in the survey. The nonresident aliens are not reported in the aforementioned racial/ethnic groups. The definition used in the survey is as follows:
Nonresident alien—A person who is not a citizen or national of the United States and who is in this country on a temporary basis and does not have the right to remain indefinitely. Resident aliens who are not citizens of the United States and who have been lawfully admitted for permanent residence (and who hold alien registration receipt cards—Form I 551/155) are to be reported in the appropriate racial/ethnic categories along with U.S. citizens.
Bachelor's and Master's Degree Data
Bachelor's and master's degree data presented in this report were derived from The IPEDS Completions Survey. Surveys were mailed to all accredited universities and colleges in the United States, including the U.S. territories, for completion by the institution. Data were requested by sex and field of study of recipient for each degree level.
Follow-up for nonresponse and editing was conducted by letter and telephone. The overall response rate for institutions of higher education ranged from 91 to 93 percent between 1995 and 2004. Detailed national data were not released by NCES for the academic year ending 1999.
The manner of collecting racial and ethnic data is left to the discretion of the institutions, provided that the system results in reasonably accurate data. The information is gathered by NCES for the U.S. Department of Education Office of Civil Rights, in compliance with title I of the Civil Rights Act of 1964 and title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972. Data on race/ethnicity of degree recipients were collected biennially by NCES for the Office of Civil Rights from 1987 through 1989 and have been collected annually since then.
In examining data on degrees awarded to minorities, it must be noted that 2–6 percent of all science and engineering degrees awarded in 1995–2004 were reported as awarded to individuals whose race/ethnicity was unknown. The "unknown" category could affect trends and observable changes in the number and share of awards received by minority students, particularly if there are shifts from year to year in the number of degree recipients with unknown race/ethnicity. As detailed tables 1 and 2 indicate, the share of degrees awarded to individuals whose race/ethnicity was unknown varied somewhat by degree level.
This NSF report differs from those published by NCES in that data for the U.S. territories and the commonwealth of Puerto Rico are included, whereas NCES excludes them from most of its published reports. Primarily, data for Hispanics are affected because institutions in Puerto Rico are included.
Doctoral Degree Data
In the period 1995–2004 the Survey of Earned Doctorates was funded jointly by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and five other federal agencies: the U.S. Department of Education, the National Institutes of Health, the National Endowment for the Humanities, the National Aeronautics and Space Administration, and the U.S. Department of Agriculture.
The survey collects information during the period of 1 July of one year to 30 June of the next from all persons who have fulfilled the requirements for a research doctorate. Survey forms are sent to all accredited doctorate-granting institutions for distribution by the graduate deans to all research doctorate recipients as they complete degree requirements. Information collected in the survey comprises demographic data, such as the student's sex, citizenship, ethnicity, and racial group; education history, including field of degrees; sources of graduate student support; employment status during the year preceding receipt of the doctorate; postgraduation plans; and background on parents' education.
Approximately 92 percent of the doctorate recipients complete and return the survey forms. For nonrespondents, commencement programs constitute a source of skeletal information on a few variables that is added to the data file. These variables are sex, field of study, institution, year of doctorate, and educational background. Nonresponse for race/ethnicity is not imputed for individuals, but the percentage unknown has been low (around 1–2 percent of those with known citizenship; citizenship was unknown for 2–5 percent of degree recipients). Because changes in nonresponse do exist, small changes in numbers should be interpreted with caution. Data are also updated annually from completed survey forms received late, so numbers may change very slightly in each edition.