Key Findings: 2008
Trends in the Numbers of New Research Doctorate Recipients
- The 48,802 research doctorates awarded in 2008 is the highest number in the history of U.S. higher education, but growth rates have slowed in recent years (table 1).
- Life sciences accounted for 11,088 research doctorates awarded in 2008, the largest number by broad field (table 5).
- Women received 46% of all research doctorates awarded in 2008, the 13th consecutive year in which women received more than 40% of doctorates awarded (table 7).
- A total of 6,981 U.S. citizens and permanent residents who are members of racial/ethnic minority groups were awarded research doctorates in 2008—23% of the U.S. citizens and permanent residents who earned research doctorates and reported race/ethnicity (table 8).
- Asians earned 2,543 research doctorates in 2008, more than members of any other U.S. racial/ethnic minority group (table 8).
- Of graduates with known citizenship status, 67% were U.S. citizens or permanent residents and 33% were non-U.S. citizen temporary visa holders (table 11).
- China (including Hong Kong) was the country of origin for the largest number of non-U.S. graduates in 2008, with 4,526 (table 12).
- The median total time span from baccalaureate to doctorate among graduates was 9.4 years; median duration between starting and completing graduate school was 7.7 years (table 18).
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Financial Resources and Indebtedness
- Three fourths of graduates reported teaching assistantships, research assistantships/traineeships, and fellowships/grants to be their primary source of support during graduate school (table 22).
- Just over half (53%) of graduates reported having no graduate or undergraduate education-related debt, 19% reported cumulative debt of $20,000 or less, and 8% reported debt over $70,000 (table 23).
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Postgraduation Plans, Employment, and Location
- Sixty-nine percent of graduates reported having definite postgraduation plans (table 27). Of those, 64% planned to work and 36% planned postdoctoral study, predominately in the broad fields of life sciences and physical sciences (table 28).
- Of the graduates with firm commitments for U.S. employment, 51% planned to work in academe, 27% planned to work in industry or be self-employed, and 6% planned to work in government (table 29).