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Undergraduate Origins of Recent (1991-95) Science and Engineering Doctorate Recipients


Citation, Foreword and Acknowledgments
Undergraduate Origins in Foreign Institutions
Undergraduate Origins by Type of U.S. Institution
Baccalaureate Origins of Women and Racial/Ethnic Groups

Suggested Citation

National Science Foundation, Undergraduate Origins of Recent (1991-95) Science and Engineering Doctorate Recipients, Detailed Statistical Tables, NSF 96-334 (Arlington, VA, 1996).

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Baccalaureate institutions are an essential part of the educational process for persons earning science and engineering (S&E) doctorates. This report summarizes data on the baccalaureate institutions reported by persons completing doctorates from 1991 through 1995. It provides an institutional context for examining this aspect of the educational pipeline.

Jeanne E. Griffith
Division of Science Resources Studies
December 1996


This report was prepared by Susan T. Hill, Senior Science Resources Analyst, Science and Engineering Education and Human Resources Program (EDU) of the Division of Science Resources Studies (SRS). Review and guidance were provided by Mary A. Golladay, EDU Program Director and by Jeanne E. Griffith, Director, SRS.

Tabulations and charts from the Survey of Earned Doctorates were prepared for the National Science Foundation under contract by Delores H. Thurgood and Mary Reynolds, National Research Council/National Academy of Sciences. Editorial services were provided by the SRS Publications Manager, Anne M. Houghton and from Julia H. Harriston of the Publications Management Group. Andy Black provided composition and page layout services.


Currently, only about 325 universities in the United States provide doctorate-level education in science and engineering (S&E), but other institutions provide students their foundation in science or engineering:

Given their significance, these institutions have been studied and reported on for over 50 years (see Appendix C, Bibliography). [2] This report provides additional knowledge, focusing particularly on those institutions that awarded baccalaureates to students who later received doctorates in S&E fields.


Because undergraduate education is the foundation for graduate studies, it is important to know where our Nation's S&E doctorate recipients are receiving their undergraduate training. Specifically, this report addresses the following broad questions:

These and related questions are explored in this report.


Recent doctorate recipients are defined as persons who earned doctorates in S&E fields from U.S. universities in the academic years ending in June 1991 through 1995. Doctorate recipients in these five years were combined into one cohort, or unit of analysis, to minimize the possibility of overemphasizing any unusual circumstances from any single year.

The S&E fields of study, as defined by the National Science Foundation (NSF), include the natural sciences (physical sciences, biological sciences, mathematics, computer sciences), social science/psychology, and engineering. The specific fields are listed in table 1 in Appendix B, Detailed Statistical Tables. Note that engineering technology and medical degrees are not included.

A baccalaureate-origin institution is defined as the college or university from which an S&E doctorate recipient had earned a bachelor's degree. Excluded are any other undergraduate institutions that the student may have attended before receiving a baccalaureate.

The Carnegie Classification of Institutions was used to group types of institutions for this analysis. The Carnegie Commission on Higher Education has periodically (1970, 1976, 1987, and 1994) classified institutions of higher education in the United States by the range of programs and/or degrees offered, enrollment size, and amount of Federal funds received for research. The 1994 Carnegie Classification is used in this report to study the baccalaureate origins of scientists and engineers who recently received their doctorate from U.S. institutions. The changes to the 1994 Carnegie Classification were such that this analysis is not comparable to the earlier data by Carnegie Classifications in the earlier report, Undergraduate Origins of Recent Science and Engineering Doctorate Recipients(NSF 92-332). See Appendix A, Technical Notes, for more detailed information.

Source of Data

The source of the data used in this report is the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), awarded in the United States. The survey questionnaires are completed by approximately 94 to 95 percent of all doctorate recipients as they finish the requirements for their degree. A detailed description of the survey and possible sources of error are provided in Appendix A, Technical Notes.


[1] Data on numbers of institutions are from the National Center for Education Statistics, Digest of Education Statistics 1995 (Washington, D. C.: Supt. of Documents, U.S. Government Printing Office, 1995) p. 14.

[2] Many of the reports cited in the Bibliography focus on the "productivity" of baccalaureate institutions (i.e., the proportion of the total bachelor's degree recipients from that institution, or group of institutions, who go on to earn doctorates within a certain time frame). This approach adjusts for institutional size to some extent.