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Press Release 13-173

Reporting improvements contribute to rise in counts of postdocs employed in academia in science, engineering, and health fields

Illustration showing two scientists working in a lab

From 2000-2010, postdoc employment in engineering had the fastest growth.
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September 30, 2013

According to a study published by the National Science Foundation (NSF), the number of postdoctoral appointees (postdocs) increased across all disciplines during the past three decades.

In 2010, the number of postdocs reported to the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS) grew to 63,415, an increase of more than 10 percent from the 2009 total and 25 percent more than the 2007 total.

The growth reflects improved reporting methods, as well as the continued expansion of postdoctoral employment in academia.

The GSS has collected data on postdocs annually since 1979, and the trends reflect an increase in postdoc employment across all fields. Postdoc employment in engineering has seen the fastest growth, with employment in computer sciences closely behind.

Biological sciences, clinical medicine and physical sciences were the most common fields of employment for postdocs in 2010.

For more information on this report, please contact Kelly Kang.

Please visit the NSF's National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics for more reports and other products.


Media Contacts
Deborah Wing, NSF, (703) 292-5344,

Program Contacts
Kelly H. Kang, NSF, (703) 292-7796,

The National Science Foundation (NSF) is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all fields of science and engineering. In fiscal year (FY) 2016, its budget is $7.5 billion. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions. Each year, NSF receives more than 48,000 competitive proposals for funding and makes about 12,000 new funding awards. NSF also awards about $626 million in professional and service contracts yearly.

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