Chapter 4:

Graduate Education


Enrollment


Overview

Graduate education in the United States sets a world standard; it is highly regarded not only by students in this country but also by persons from abroad. Graduate education constitutes a critical step in the preparation of most scholars and professionals. In pursuing graduate training, students must be more focused and directed in what courses they take.

Graduate school enrollment in the United States in science and engineering continued to increase over the 1985–1995 decade, from 358,126 students in 1985 to 423,922 students in 1995. (See appendix table 4-1.) In the most recent years (1993–1995), however, enrollment decreased by 3 percent. In addition, the composition of enrollment in graduate education in science and engineering fields became more diverse.

Women increased not only their numbers but also their share of total graduate enrollment, slowly becoming a majority in graduate enrollment in all fields combined (Syverson and Welch, 1996). Progress has been slower in science and engineering fields, where women and minorities (with the exception of Asian students) continue to be underrepresented in graduate school.[1]  Women registered gains over the 1985–1995 decade in graduate enrollment, however, and underrepresented minorities made more limited progress.

Women

Enrollment Composition

Womenís graduate enrollment in the science and engineering fields, at 160,864 students in 1995, has increased 45 percent from 1985 enrollment of 110,662. (See figure 4-1 and appendix table 4-2.) During the same period, the number of male science and engineering graduate students reached 263,058, a 6 percent increase from 247,464 in 1985. (See appendix table 4-3.) Graduate enrollment steadily increased in almost all fields until 1993 when small changes within fields resulted in decreases. In some cases, this was the first time in 20 years that decreases had occurred. These changes had an effect on total graduate enrollment in 1995. (See appendix table 4-1.) Although total enrollment decreased 3 percent and male enrollment decreased 6 percent between 1993 and 1995, the number of female students grew by 3 percent from 156,757 in 1993 to 160,864 in 1995. (See appendix table 4-2.) Most of the increase in the number of women graduate students can be attributed to increased enrollment in the social sciences, (to 42,274), psychology (to 38,142), and the biological sciences (to 28,819) in 1995. Not surprisingly, biological sciences, psychology, and social sciences command the largest proportions of women science students: 20 percent, 27 percent, and 30 percent, respectively, and the largest numbers of female graduate students. (See figures 4-2 and 4-3.)

Changes in Enrollment

Female graduate science enrollment rose by 43 percent from 99,582 in 1985 to 142,712 in 1995. The increase has slowed recently, however; an increase of only 3 percent occurred from 1993 to 1995. As a proportion of total female science and engineering graduate enrollment, women enrolling in engineering increased from 10 to 11 percent. (See appendix table 4-2.) Female enrollment in the physical sciences increased 40 percent between 1985 and 1995, although it has decreased 1 percent since 1993. Other major science fields in which female enrollment decreased from 1993 to 1995 were mathematics (6 percent) and computer science (4 percent). (See appendix table 4-2.)

Female enrollment in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences increased by 40 percent between 1985 and 1995. As noted previously, most female graduate enrollment is concentrated in the biological sciences, psychology, and social sciences, and all had increases of approximately 50 percent between 1985 and 1995. (See appendix table 4-2.) Female enrollment in engineering fields increased 64 percent between 1985 and 1995, with the increase slowing to 3 percent between 1993 and 1995. Three of the eight engineering fields had decreases in the number of women graduate students between these 2 years: aerospace (2 percent), electrical (3 percent), and mechanical (6 percent). Engineering comprises 11 percent of female science and engineering enrollment; civil engineering and electrical engineering both comprise less than 3 percent. Astronomy, other geosciences,[2]  and aerospace engineering had the largest increases in the number of women graduate students from 1985 to 1995 (107, 172, and 115 percent, respectively), although their share of total science and engineering remains very small. (See appendix table 4-2.)

Enrollment Status

An increasing percentage of the full-time graduate science and engineering student population are women. (See appendix tables 4-4 and 4-5.) Of the 107,805 women enrolled in science and engineering full time, 89 percent were in science fields in 1995 compared to full-time male science enrollment of 69 percent. (See figure 4-4.) Full-time female enrollment in graduate science and engineering programs increased 54 percent from 1985, compared to a male enrollment increase of 10 percent. Since 1993, female enrollment increased 4 percent when male enrollment decreased 6 percent. (See appendix tables 4-5 and 4-6.) Male enrollment continues to dominate the engineering fields, though there has been a 10 percent decrease in full-time male enrollment since 1993. (See appendix table 4-6.) Women, on the other hand, slightly increased their full-time engineering enrollment by 3 percent from 1993 to 1995. Women made long strides overall from 1985 to 1995 with an 84 percent increase in full-time engineering enrollment compared to menís 14 percent increase during the same period. Male enrollment in full-time science and engineering programs decreased in every field except biological sciences since 1993.

Female part-time graduate student enrollment in science was 87 percent of all female part-time science and engineering enrollment compared to menís 60 percent in 1995. (See figure 4-4.) Unlike the increase in female full-time enrollment, the part-time graduate enrollment in science and engineering for women of 53,059 in 1995 (39 percent of all part-time science and engineering graduate students) represented a 1 percent decline from the 1993 enrollment of 53,502. (See appendix table 4-7 and 4-8.) In comparison, however, enrollment for men also declined between 1993 and 1995: the 1995 enrollment of 82,847 was smaller than the 1993 enrollment of 88,504 by 6 percent. (See appendix table 4-9.) Female part-time enrollment decreased in the sciences but increased in engineering from 1993 to 1995 by 2 percent. Part-time female graduate enrollment increased 30 percent between 1985 and 1995. (See appendix table 4-8.) Male part-time graduate enrollment decreased 1 percent during that same period. (See appendix table 4-9.)

Sources of Financial Support

In 1995, both men and women in graduate engineering programs reported comparable means of financial support. The proportions relying primarily on self support were nearly the same, 27 percent for men and 29 percent for women. (See figure 4-5.) Only in the aerospace engineering field was there a notable gender difference in the proportions of students relying on self support, 20 percent for men and 13 percent for women. (See appendix table 4-10.)

In science, institutional support was the primary source of support for 45 percent of male and 43 percent of female graduate students. Female graduate students were more likely than males to be self supported (35 percent versus 26 percent). In computer sciences, psychology, and social sciences, close to 50 percent of women and about 40 percent of men relied on self support. In mathematics, almost equal proportions of men, 69 percent, and women, 67 percent, received institutional support.

Graduate Schools

The graduate school with the largest number of female graduate students in 1995 was the University of Minnesota (all campuses), which had 1,880 female graduates enrolled. (See figure 4-6.) This university has been the top graduate school in female enrollment for 8 of the past 10 years. George Washington University increased its female enrollment over 100 percent, from 818 students in 1985 to 1,662 in 1995. Indiana University (all campuses) also increased its female enrollment by 100 percent, from 587 female students in 1985 to 1,423 female students in 1995. (See appendix table 4-11.)

In 1995, 4,489 science and engineering graduate students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) of which 2,206 were women. Female graduate students increased their enrollment in HBCUs by 68 percent from 1985 to 1995. (See appendix tables 4-12 and 4-13.)

Minorities

Enrollment Composition

Of the 325,135 U.S. citizen and permanent resident students enrolled in graduate science and engineering programs in 1995 (both full time and part time) (see appendix table 4-14), 14 percent were minorities. Blacks (6 percent), American Indians (1 percent), and Hispanics (4 percent), continued to be substantially underrepresented. (See appendix tables 4-15, 4-16, and 4-17.) Asian students were 8 percent of graduate science and engineering enrollment. (See appendix table 4-18.)

Blacks

For black students, the increase in graduate science and engineering enrollment from 1985 to 1995 was 76 percent, an increase of approximately 8,000 students. In science, black enrollment was up 71 percent from 1985, from 9,066 students to 15,494 in 1995. (See figure 4-7.) Of the major fields, agricultural science, although numbers are small, increased its enrollment of black graduate students from 137 in 1985 to 293 students in 1995. Psychology and computer science fields almost doubled their enrollment of black graduate students during this period increasing 91 percent, adding 1,632 students into these fields. Over a third of black students were enrolled in social science. (See figure 4-8.) Of the 6,907 social science students enrolled in 1995, the largest field was political science with 3,559 students. Physics, atmospheric science, other geosciences, anthropology, and history of science, whose black enrollment more than doubled or tripled between 1985 and 1995, increased their black enrollment in these fields combined by 214 students. Engineering enrollment also doubled for blacks between 1985 and 1995, increasing 107 percent from 1,387 in 1985 to 2,872 in 1995, adding 1,485 students. Between 1993 and 1995, decreases in black student enrollment were small, losing fewer than 80 students in science subfields and fewer than 50 students in engineering subfields. (See appendix table 4-15.)

American Indians

There were 1,524 American Indians enrolled in science and engineering in 1995, an increase of 107 percent from 737 students enrolled in 1985.[3]  In science, enrollment increased 110 percent adding 688 students from 1985 to 1995. The fields with the largest concentrations of these graduate students were biological sciences (214 students), psychology (331 students), and social sciences (434 students). American Indian enrollment in engineering increased over 100 students from 1985 to 1995. (See appendix table 4-16.)

Hispanics

Hispanic students increased their graduate science and engineering enrollment by 64 percent between 1985 (8,614) and 1995 (14,089). Students enrolling in science fields totaled 11,258 students in 1995, a 58 percent increase from 7,133 in 1985. Enrollment in all major fields of science increased between 1985 and 1995, except in agricultural sciences which decreased 10 percent. Biological science (1,810), psychology (2,777), and social science (4,221) have the largest numbers and proportions of Hispanic graduate students in science. (See figure 4-8.) Political science is the largest of the social science fields and comprised 14 percent of all Hispanic science and engineering student enrollment. Engineering enrollment for Hispanics increased 5 percent from 1,481 students in 1985 to 2,831 students in 1995. (See appendix table 4-17.)

Asians

Asian students increased their graduate enrollment in science and engineering by 117 percent, from 12,003 in 1985 to 26,015 in 1995. Asian graduate student enrollment in science fields in 1995 (16,897) increased 135 percent from 1985 (7,198), and doubled, tripled, and sometimes quadrupled within some fields. Asian student enrollment in engineering (9,118) increased 90 percent. The largest numbers of Asian engineering students are in the subfields of civil engineering (1,360), mechanical engineering (1,243), and electrical engineering (3,762). Although the combined Asian enrollment in science and engineering yielded an increase of 8 percent between 1993 and 1995, there were decreases of about 400 students combined in various subfields of physical sciences, earth sciences, and engineering. (See appendix table 4-18.)

Whites

White students increased their science and engineering enrollment by 10 percent between 1985 (223,682) and 1995 (246,776). (See appendix table 4-19.) Students enrolling in science fields totaled 194,663 students in 1995, a 12 percent increase from 173,541 in 1985. For nearly half of the major fields in science, however, enrollment decreased. Engineering enrollment increased 4 percent between 1985 and 1995. White graduate student enrollment in science and engineering decreased 4 percent between 1993 and 1995; in engineering only, enrollment decreased 9 percent.

Unknown Race/Ethnicity

Graduate students in science and engineering whose race and ethnicity were not specified were 9 percent of U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students in 1985 and 6 percent in 1995 (a decrease in numbers of 29 percent), probably reflecting better reporting of race/ethnicity; however, this group increased 5 percent during 1993 to 1995. (See appendix table 4-20.)

Race by Gender

Of the 325,135 U.S. citizen and permanent resident science and engineering graduate students enrolled in colleges and universities in this country in 1995, 134,643 were female, representing 41 percent (see appendix table 4-21). Of the female science and engineering students in 1995, 21 percent were minorities; in 1994, 20 percent. Blacks represented 8 percent, American Indians 1 percent, Asians 7 percent, and Hispanics 5 percent. Of the male graduate science and engineering students (190,492) in 1995, the portion who were black was 4 percent, American Indians less than 1 percent, Asians 9 percent, and Hispanics 4 percent.

The enrollment of racial/ethnic minority graduate students is most prominent in the social sciences except for Asian students who are prominent in engineering fields. Black, American Indian, and Hispanic females tend to be concentrated in the social sciences, whereas Asian female students are concentrated in the biological sciences. White female students are in psychology and social sciences. Of the male graduate students, all minorities except Asian men are most heavily represented in social sciences. Asian and white malesí enrollment is concentrated in engineering. Women were 55 percent of black science and engineering enrollment, 51 percent of American Indian science and engineering enrollment, 37 percent of Asian science and engineering enrollment, and 48 percent of Hispanic science and engineering enrollment. (See figure 4-9 and appendix table 4-21.)

Foreign

Foreign students enrolled in U.S. science and engineering graduate programs totaled 98,787 students in 1995, up 29 percent from 76,812 students in 1985. There were 63,300 foreign students enrolled in science fields, up 32 percent from 47,990 in 1985. Enrollment in all major science fields increased for foreign students between 1985 and 1995. Though enrollment in social sciences combined increased, enrollment in three social science fields decreased between 1985 and 1995; sociology (down 17 percent), linguistics (down 7 percent), and history of science (down 7 percent). Engineering enrollment for foreign students was up 23 percent between 1985 and 1995. Civil engineering (5,600), electrical engineering (11,308), and mechanical engineering (5,442) had the largest portions of foreign enrollment in the engineering fields. (See appendix table 4-22.)

Between 1993 and 1995, enrollment of foreign graduate students in science and engineering decreased 7 percent, science by 5 percent, and engineering by 10 percent. Foreign enrollment in all major science fields decreased during this period except for psychology, which was up 11 percent. Foreign enrollment in all engineering fields also decreased between 1993 and 1995. (See appendix table 4-22.)

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Pursuit of Graduate Study After the Bachelorís

Analysis of data from the National Science Foundationís National Survey of Recent College Graduates reveals that women and men are similar in their pursuit of graduate study after the bachelorís degree. Among 1993 science and engineering bachelorís degree recipients who were surveyed in 1995, 27 percent of women and 25 percent of men had a masterís or higher degree or were enrolled full time in 1995. (See text table 4-1.) Although men and women in the aggregate were similar in their pursuit of graduate studies, differences existed within fields. For example, among those with a 1993 bachelorís degree in biological sciences, 41 percent of women, but 49 percent of men, had a masterís or higher degree or were enrolled full time in 1995. In physical sciences, women were the more likely to pursue graduate study: 48 percent of women with a 1993 bachelorís degree and 40 percent of men had a masterís or higher degree or were enrolled full time in 1995. Among those not pursuing further education, men and women gave, for the most part, similar reasons for not taking courses after graduation, although women were more likely than men to cite financial reasons (53 percent of women compared with 38 percent of men with bachelorís science degrees, and 37 percent of women compared with 30 percent of men with bachelorís engineering degrees). (See text table 4-2.)

Racial/ethnic groups are similar in their pursuit of graduate study after the bachelorís degree, with the exception of Asians. Among 1993 science and engineering bachelorís degree recipients, 34 percent of Asians had a masterís or higher degree or were enrolled full time in 1995, compared to 26 percent of the total. (See text table 4-1.)

Persons with disabilities, who represent 2.4 percent of the 1993 bachelorís science and engineering graduates, were less likely than others to pursue graduate education or to be employed. Among 1993 science and engineering bachelorís degree recipients, 76 percent of those with disabilities were not students in 1995, compared to 67 percent of the total. (See text table 4-3.) Recent bachelorís graduates with disabilities were also less likely to be employedó30 percent were not employed in 1995 compared to 16 percent of the total.

 

Full Time and Part Time

In 1995, 68 percent of graduate science and engineering students were enrolled full time and 32 percent were enrolled part time. Among U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate science and engineering students, 89 percent were full time and 11 percent were part time. (See appendix table 4-23.)

Between 1985 and 1995, minority U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students increased their full-time enrollment in science and engineering: black graduate students (91 percent); American Indian graduate students (122 percent); Asian graduate students (132 percent); and Hispanics (76 percent). Full-time foreign science and engineering graduate student enrollment increased by 27 percent between 1985 and 1995. Part-time enrollment for minority U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students, and for foreign students also increased between 1985 and 1995. Between 1993 and 1995, full-time foreign student and white U.S. citizen and permanent resident student enrollment decreased 7 percent and 2 percent, respectively. Part-time enrollment of Hispanic graduate students decreased between 1993 and 1995 by 3 percent, as did part-time enrollment of white graduate students (down 7 percent) and foreign graduate students (down 4 percent). (See appendix table 4-23.)

Historically Black Colleges and Universities

There were 3,834 U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate science and engineering students enrolled in Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) in this country in 1995, up 72 percent between 1985 and 1995. In 1995, black students were the largest portion of enrollment at 76 percent; American Indian students, 1 percent; Asian students, 5 percent; Hispanic students, 2 percent; and white students, 14 percent. (See figure 4-10.) Within HBCUs in 1995, black student enrollment was concentrated in social sciences (32 percent), American Indian students in physical sciences (79 percent), Asian students in mathematical sciences (29 percent), Hispanic students in physical sciences and biological sciences (both 20 percent), and white students in psychology (26 percent). (See appendix table 4-24.)

Persons With Disabilities

About 3 percent of graduate students studying in all fields, science and engineering as well as non–science-and-engineering fields, reported a disability in 1996. (See appendix table 4-25.) Students with disabilities were more likely to be enrolled in health fields than students without disabilities, and were less likely to be enrolled in life and physical sciences and in engineering/computer science/mathematics fields.



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Footnotes


[1] It must be noted that over the last decade women and minorities have made progress in the proportion of their participation in science and engineering fields. Because of the nature of calculating percentage changes, in many instances the largest increases are often within the populations that had the lowest numbers at the outset. Therefore, the reader is cautioned that the percentage change data for certain minority groups, although impressive, may not reflect very large increases in absolute numbers.

[2] "Other geosciences" includes such fields as conservation, environmental chemistry, environmental science, environmental science/planning, environmental studies, and natural resources.

[3] Some of this increase may be due to changes in racial identification. Between the 1970 and 1980 censuses and between the 1980 and 1990 censuses, the number of American Indians increased in excess of natural increase because many multiracial persons who had not previously self-identified as American Indian changed their racial identity to American Indian (Eschbach et al. 1998).


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