Undergraduate Origins by Type of U.S. Institution

Recent S&E doctorate recipients cited over 1,400 U.S. institutions as the sources of their baccalaureates. These institutions constitute almost three-quarters of the Nation's approximately 2,200 colleges and universities that award bachelor's degrees.

Nationally Prominent Institutions from Which S&E Doctorate Recipients Had Received Baccalaureate Education

Twenty-five U.S. institutions were especially prominent among those that granted baccalaureates to students who eventually earned their S&E doctorate. Together, the 25 institutions accounted for the baccalaureate education of one-quarter of those persons who received S&E doctorates in the United States between 1991 and 1995 (table 3). Individually, each of the 25 top-ranked institutions had provided the undergraduate education of at least 500 graduate students who received their S&E doctorate in that period.

The University of California at Berkeley was by far the largest provider of U.S. undergraduate education of recent S&E doctorate recipients, followed by University of Illinois at Urbana, Cornell University, and University of Michigan (table 3).

All institutions that provided the baccalaureate education of 10 or more recent S&E doctorates are listed in Appendix B, table 18.

Carnegie Classification of U.S. Institutions by S&E Field of Study

The 1994 Carnegie Classification system was used in this report whereby the 4-year institutions in the United States that awarded baccalaureates were grouped into the following categories:

Appendix A, Technical Notes, provides detailed information on these Carnegie Classification groups.

Table 4 provides an overview of the role of each type of Carnegie Classification group in the baccalaureate-origins of S&E doctorate recipients from 1991 to 1995, by field of study. The 125 research universities awarded 56 percent of the bachelor's degrees of S&E doctorate recipients, and the 111 doctoral universities awarded another 11 percent. Altogether the 236 institutions (research plus doctoral universities categories) that offer doctoral S&E programs accounted for 67 percent of the baccalaureate origins of S&E doctorate holders (chart 2). This is somewhat higher than the proportion of S&E bachelor's degrees awarded (54 percent) that doctorate-granting institutions accounted for in 1993.[6]

The role of each Carnegie group in the baccalaureate-origins of recent S&E doctorate holders differed markedly depending on the S&E field of doctorate awarded.[7] For example, research universities provided the undergraduate education of about three-fourths of the recent doctorate recipients in chemical, electrical, and mechanical engineering. But these institutions awarded baccalaureates to only 40 percent of recent chemistry doctorate recipients, who tended to have their baccalaureate origins in master's and baccalaureate institutions (table 4).

The following sections describe baccalaureate origins for S&E doctorates for each of the five kinds of institutions. A list of the top 25 (or 24, depending on an even break-point for number of degrees) institutions within each Carnegie Classification group is also provided. The role of 2-year institutions is also discussed.

Role of Research Universities in the Baccalaureate Education of S&E Doctorate Recipients

The 125 "research universities" led other institutions both in the amount of Federal support received for research and in the range of doctoral programs offered. Research universities played a central role in undergraduate S&E education, having provided the baccalaureate education of 56 percent of recent S&E doctorate holders.

Three-fourths of recent engineering doctorate recipients had earned their bachelor's degree at research universities; the comparable figure for science doctorate recipients was about half. Scientists with recently acquired doctorates were more likely than their engineering counterparts to have earned their bachelor's degrees at master's or baccalaureate institutions (chart 3). The prominence of research universities varied by field, however, as shown in chart 4.

Of the 25 top-ranked baccalaureate institutions from which S&E doctorate holders had earned their baccalaureate (table 3), all were classified as research universities. The top 25 research universities do NOT differ from the general ranking of top 25 baccalaureate institutions nationally. Table 5 lists the top 25 research universities; together, these accounted for about 44 percent of the bachelor's degrees earned at the 125 research universities by recent S&E doctorate recipients (chart 5).

Role of Doctoral Universities in the Baccalaureate Education of S&E Doctorate Recipients

The 111 "doctoral universities" have established doctoral programs, but have fewer research programs than research-intensive institutions. Schools categorized as doctoral universities accounted for 11 percent of the baccalaureate-origins of recent S&E doctorate recipients.

The top 25 doctoral universities awarded 46 percent of the category's total S&E doctorate holders' baccalaureates (table 6).

Role of Master's Colleges and Universities in the Baccalaureate Education of S&E Doctorate Recipients

Institutions identified as "master's colleges and universities" are those that offer a liberal arts program, a professional or occupational program, and master's degrees. This category includes 529 institutions that award S&E baccalaureates.

The top 25 master's colleges and universities are dominated by the California State university system and the New York City university system, which together accounted for 12 of the top 25. The top 25 institutions awarded almost one-fourth of the S&E baccalaureates to those who later became S&E doctorate recipients (table 7).

Master's colleges and universities had conferred baccalaureates on almost 2 out of every 10 recent science doctorate recipients, twice the proportion found among recent engineering doctorate recipients (chart 3).

Role of Baccalaureate Colleges in the Baccalaureate Education of S&E Doctorate Recipients

Baccalaureate colleges are predominantly bachelor's degree-granting institutions that award more than half their degrees in liberal arts fields.

The top 25 baccalaureate colleges cited most often by recent S&E doctorate holders as their baccalaureate-origin institutions (table 8) account for 32 percent of the total number of bachelor's degrees awarded by baccalaureate institutions to those who went on to earn a doctorate.

When productivity is taken into account, several liberal arts colleges rank with research-intensive universities for number of bachelor's degree recipients who go on to earn a S&E doctorate. One report indicated that 15 of the top 25 institutions—ranked by the proportion of the baccalaureate recipients who earned doctorates in the sciences between 1951 and 1980—were liberal arts colleges.[8] Similar findings were also presented in a report on "Persistence in Higher S&E Education." [9]

By field, baccalaureate colleges provided the baccalaureate education of 15 percent of science doctorate holders, almost four times the proportion found among engineering doctorate holders (chart 3). These institutions play a significant role in the baccalaureate origins of recent doctorate recipients in chemistry, mathematics, social sciences, psychology and biological sciences (table 4).

Role of Specialized Institutions in the Baccalaureate Education of S&E Doctorate Recipients

The Nation's specialized schools cited as baccalaureate origins by S&E doctorate holders are primarily engineering or technical schools. The top 24 of these institutions granted 78 percent of the baccalaureate degrees earned by recent S&E doctorate recipients in schools of this type.

Harvey Mudd College in California headed the list of prominent specialized institutions, followed by three U.S. academies—the U.S. Military, U.S. Air Force, and U.S. Naval Academies (table 9). In terms of S&E field, the technical nature of specialized institutions is such that engineering doctorate holders were more likely than science doctorate holders to have attended this type of school for their undergraduate education (chart 3).

Role of 2-year Colleges in the Undergraduate Education of S&E Doctorate Recipients

A key difference between white S&E doctorate holders versus doctorate recipients from some underrepresented minority groups is the latter's attendance at 2-year colleges. In general, Hispanics and American Indians are more likely than other groups to begin their undergraduate education in 2-year colleges.[10] Specifically, 16 percent of American Indian S&E doctorate holders had attended a 2-year college as had 14 percent of Hispanics (chart 6). In comparison, around one-tenth of both black and white S&E doctorate holders had attended a 2-year school; only 7 percent of Asians had done so. These figures may indicate that 2-year colleges are a significant part of the educational pipeline leading to an S&E doctorate for American Indians and Hispanics.

Attendance at 2-year colleges was more pronounced in certain fields of study. Recent recipients of doctorates in agriculture and psychology were more likely to have gone to 2-year colleges than were majors in other S&E fields (table 10).


[6] National Science Board, Science and Engineering Indicators—1996. (Arlington, VA: U.S. Government Printing Office, 1996, NSB 96-21), 2-9 and 2-10.

[7] Note that field of study refers only to the field of the doctorate. Changes in field of study from the baccalaureate to the doctorate do occur; see Susan T. Hill, Science and Engineering Doctorates: 1960-90 (Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation, 1991), pp. 165-66.

[8] Sam Carrier and David Davis-Van Atta, Maintaining America's Scientific Productivity (Oberlin, OH: Oberlin College, 1987).

[9] Betty Maxfield, Persistence in Higher Science and Engineering S&E Education: S&E Baccalaureate to S&E Doctorate Production (Washington, D.C.: Library of Congress, Office of Technology Assessment, 1988).

[10] National Center for Education Statistics, Trends in Minority Enrollment in Higher Education, Fall 1978 - Fall 1988, (Washington, D. C.: June 1990).