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News Release 06-002

All In a Week's Work

New report tells which doctorate holders work the most

According to newly released data, biologists and agricultural scientists work the most hours.

According to newly released data, biologists and agricultural scientists work the most hours.

January 3, 2006

This material is available primarily for archival purposes. Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

Computer scientists and engineers work more than mathematicians or psychologists do, and biologists and agricultural scientists work more than everyone, says an NSF survey of the average work weeks of doctoral scientists and engineers.

Also, the report said, when the worker's household includes non-adult children, women declared shorter work weeks than did men who had the same number of children. In households with no children, women and men work equal numbers of hours.

Thomas B. Hoffer and Karen Grigorian, of the University of Chicago's National Opinion Research Center, analyzed data from NSF's 2003 Survery of Doctorate Recipients taken for the reference week of Oct. 1 of that year. The survey looked at 530,962 doctorate holders working in three broad sectors, including education, which was primarily university level teaching and research, industry and government. Educators averaged 50.6 hours of work for the week, while those in industry averaged 47.6 hours. Those employed by federal, state or local governments worked the fewest hours, averaging 45.2 per week.

As for the postdocs? They reported working 50.3 hours per week on average -- "less than the nontenured tenure-track faculty, but more than non-tenure track individuals, and not significantly different from tenured faculty," the survey says.

Although the differences between employment sectors and fields of work boil down to an extra hour or so a couple of days a week, the authors say the figures have only a 5 percent chance of being random variations.

Some highlights of the report:

All employment sectors

Field of Doctorate Mean hours worked per week
Biological and agricultural sciences 50.53
Computer and information sciences 49.33
Engineering 48.64
Health sciences 49.57
Mathematical sciences 47.33
Physical Sciences 48.26
Psychology 46.62
Social sciences 48.80

NSF published the InfoBrief, All In a Week's Work: Average Work Weeks of Doctoral Scientists and Engineers, in Dec. 2005.


Media Contacts
Leslie Fink, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-5395, email:

Program Contacts
John Tsapogas, National Science Foundation, (703) 292-7799, email:

Principal Investigators
Thomas B. Hoffer, NORC, email:

The U.S. National Science Foundation propels the nation forward by advancing fundamental research in all fields of science and engineering. NSF supports research and people by providing facilities, instruments and funding to support their ingenuity and sustain the U.S. as a global leader in research and innovation. With a fiscal year 2023 budget of $9.5 billion, NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 40,000 competitive proposals and makes about 11,000 new awards. Those awards include support for cooperative research with industry, Arctic and Antarctic research and operations, and U.S. participation in international scientific efforts.

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