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Chapter 7

Graduate Education: Outcomes

Earned degrees marking the formal outcomes of graduate education represent important credentials for those pursuing science and engineering careers. Data on these outcomes provide benchmarks for measuring the progress of population groups in increasing their representation in these fields.
Graduate education has expanded significantly during the past 25 years. The overall trends in degree awards document the pattern of growth: For about 10 years, from approximately the mid-1960's until the mid-1970's, there was sustained and rapid growth. From that point forward, increases occurred, but they were slower, limited to certain discipline areas, or marked by interim periods of decline. Degree awards in science and engineering fields increased more slowly than those in non-science and engineering. Even so, at both the master's and doctoral degree levels, the science and engineering awards just about doubled-a 91 percent increase for master's degrees, a 111 percent increase for doctorates.
Periods of expansion generally offer environments in which barriers may fall or ease. While change has in fact occurred, during the last 25 years the magnitudes of increases for underrepresented groups are strikingly different and in many instances do not approach the level of overall increase. A variety of factors unique to each group or to particular situations appear to have influenced outcomes, making generalizations difficult. This chapter analyzes the trends in degree awards as a means of monitoring progress.
The representation of women in graduate science and engineering degrees has increased substantially, although it lags behind their representation in non-science and engineering fields. At both the master's degree and doctoral degree levels, women now receive more than half of all degrees in non-science and engineering fields (59 percent of master's degrees and 52 percent of doctorates). They receive much smaller proportions of the degrees in science and engineering at these levels, 36 and 29 percent. (See figures 7-1 and 7-4.)

Figure 7-1 Figure 7-4

Across racial/ethnic groups, participation varies by group as well as by degree level. However, increases occurred in total degree awards (all disciplines) during the last decade to whites, to Asians, and to underrepresented minorities.
Factors other than group identification also need to be incorporated in the examination of the data on graduate outcomes. Disaggregation of race/ethnicity by gender reveals additional differences: Generally, women have increased their participation in science and engineering fields, while men do not show a consistent pattern. In addition, at the level of the doctorate especially, the citizenship of degree recipients must be noted.
To present the trends in degrees as consistently as possible with available data, the presentation of trends for racial/ethnic groups in this chapter will show data for those recipients who are U.S. citizens and foreign citizens who are permanent residents. Data on foreign citizens on temporary visas are noted in summary comments, and included in tables, but factored out of the discussions. In examining doctorate recipients, information is also presented for U.S. citizens only, on the presumption that these individuals are the most likely to have received their education in its entirety within this country and, hence, that their representation reflects the ability of the U.S. educational system to provide access to careers as scientists and engineers for all groups.

Persons With Disabilities
Sidebar: Postdoctorates
Sidebar: Baccalaureate Origin Institutions
Sidebar: Time to Completion of the Ph.D.: What Factors Make a Difference?
Sidebar: Critical Incidents for Scientists and Engineers With Disabilities

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