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National Science Foundation National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: Summary Report 2007-08




Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: Summary Report 2007–08 is the 41st in a series of reports on research doctorates awarded by universities in the United States. Data presented in this report were collected by the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED).[1] The SED has been conducted annually since 1957 and is sponsored by six federal agencies: the National Science Foundation (NSF), National Institutes of Health (NIH), U.S. Department of Education (USED), U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA).

The SED is a census of all individuals who receive a research doctorate from a U.S. academic institution in a given academic year (1 July through 30 June of the following year). This report presents data from the 2007 and 2008 SED. The 2008 census covered 48,802 individuals who earned research doctorates in the academic year ending June 2008; the 2007 census covered 48,112 individuals who earned research doctorates in the academic year ending June 2007.

All survey responses become part of the Doctorate Records File (DRF), a cumulative database on research doctorate recipients from 1920 to 2008. The DRF now contains 1,745,673 records of research doctoral degrees earned over the last 89 years at U.S. institutions.

Organization of the Report

The body of this report discusses the results of the 2008 SED, beginning with a summary of key findings. Trends in the numbers and percentages of doctorate recipients through 2008 are reported by the broad fields in which doctorate recipients earn their degrees, and by sex, race/ethnicity, and citizenship. Cross-sectional data on the educational pathways that doctorate recipients take to the research doctorate are reported for the 2008 cohort, as well as data on the average amount of time taken to complete the doctoral degree, doctorate recipients reporting disabilities, sources of financial support during graduate school, and the postgraduation status and plans of doctorate recipients.

The data tables follow the main text, beginning with summary data tables for 2008 (tables 1–35), which display the numbers and percentages from which the figures and the numbers cited in the text are drawn. Detailed data tables for 2008 research doctorate recipients (tables 36–46) and for the previous 10-year period (1998–2008, tables 47-50) follow the summary 2008 data tables.

Data collected by the 2007 SED are presented as a data supplement without accompanying narrative. These supplementary summary and detailed data tables follow the 2008 tables.

Appendix A supplies technical notes, including field of study classifications, research degree titles included in the SED, response rates, and other information related to data collection and tables and figures in the report. Appendix B contains the SED questionnaires for the 2007 and 2008 academic years.

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Data Availability and Related Publications

This report is available on the Web at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/doctorates/. The 2007 and 2008 data tables are available for download in Excel and PDF file formats.

NSF publishes data from the SED annually in the Science and Engineering Doctorate Awards series of detailed statistical tables and in InfoBriefs and Special Reports that focus on selected topics. These reports, the annual Summary Report from recent years, SED questionnaires, and information on SED methodology are also online at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/doctorates/.

A set of detailed statistical tables that reports national-level counts of doctorate recipients by fine field of doctorate, sex, and race/ethnicity for U.S. citizens and permanent residents—formerly available through the survey contractor—will also be published by NSF. These will be available on the Web beginning early 2010.

SED data are also included in the series Science and Engineering Degrees and Science and Engineering Degrees by Race/Ethnicity of Recipients; Science and Engineering Indicators; and Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering. Survey data from earlier years of the SED are published in the Special Report U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century (NSF 06-319), which provides an overview of the development of the American system of doctoral education from 1900 to 1999. All of these publications are available online at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/. SED data are also included in Science and Engineering Doctorates: 1960–91 (NSF 93-301). This publication is out of print, but tables from it are available on request.

Access to restricted data for researchers interested in analyzing microdata can be arranged through a licensing agreement (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/database.cfm#MICRODATA).

The SED is conducted by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) under contract to NSF. The survey contractor can produce on-demand tabulations of the SED data (at cost), customized to the data requester's research specifications. For more information on additional sources of SED data, please contact the SED project officer, Mark Fiegener (mfiegene@nsf.gov; 703-292-4622).


[1] The SED collects information on research doctorate recipients only. This survey differs from the U.S. Department of Education's Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which collects the number of doctoral degrees awarded per institution by field of study. For an evaluation of the differences, see National Science Foundation, 1993, Science and Engineering Doctorates: 1960–1991, NSF 93-301, pp. 2–6, Washington, DC.

Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: Summary Report 2007-08
Special Report | NSF 10-309 | December 2009