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

 

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).

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