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Chapter 2. Higher Education in Science and Engineering


S&E higher education in the United States is attracting growing numbers of students. The number of bachelor's and doctoral degrees awarded in all fields and in S&E fields continues to rise, having reached new peaks in 2007. Graduate enrollment in S&E fields is also increasing. Most of the growth in undergraduate S&E education occurred in science fields. In engineering, bachelor's degrees increased since 2001 but have not yet attained the levels of the 1980s. Computer sciences degrees dropped precipitously in recent years. In doctoral degrees, growth occurred in both science and engineering fields.

Foreign graduate student enrollment in S&E increased in 2006 after declines in 2004 and 2005. The number of entering foreign students dropped after 11 September 2001 but partially rebounded in 2005 and 2006. Students on temporary visas earned 33% of S&E doctorates in the United States in 2007 and half or more of doctoral degrees awarded in engineering, physics, mathematics, computer sciences, and economics. A large fraction of these students stay in the United States: more than three-quarters of foreign doctoral degree recipients in 2007 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, its share of foreign students has decreased in recent years. Universities in several other countries (e.g., Canada, Japan, and the United Kingdom) have expanded their enrollment of foreign S&E students.


Science and Engineering Indicators 2010   Arlington, VA (NSB 10-01) | January 2010