S&E higher education in the United States is attracting growing numbers of students. The number of bachelor’s degrees and master’s degrees awarded in all fields and in S&E fields continues to rise, reaching new peaks in 2005. Graduate enrollment in S&E fields is also increasing, reaching a new peak in 2005. After declining in the late 1990s and early 2000s, the number of S&E doctorates awarded increased in the past several years.
Most of the growth in S&E education occurred in science fields. In engineering, bachelor’s and master’s degrees increased in recent years, but have not yet attained the levels of the 1980s. Engineering enrollment, both undergraduate and graduate, and engineering doctorates declined somewhat in recent years. Computer science enrollments and degrees followed trends similar to those of engineering.
Foreign student enrollment in graduate S&E programs dropped in recent years. The number of entering foreign students dropped after September 11, 2001, and only began to rise again in 2005. Students on temporary visas earned about one-third of S&E doctorates in the United States in 2003 and more than half of the engineering doctorates. An increasing fraction of them stay in the United States: about three-quarters of foreign doctoral degree recipients in 2003 planned to stay in the United States after graduation.
Globalization of higher education continues to expand. Although the United States continues to attract the largest number and fraction of foreign students worldwide, both numbers and percentages decreased in recent years. Most countries in Europe and several in Asia expanded access to higher education, resulting in increases in educational attainment since 1990. Some of the reduction in foreign students in the United States may be due to increased opportunities for students in their home countries. Some may also be due to increased competition for foreign students from other countries. Universities in several other countries, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Canada, Japan, and Germany, expanded their enrollment of foreign S&E students.