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Press Release 14-014

National Science Foundation reveals US doctoral degree recipient data

2012 data details most recent trends in U.S. doctoral education

researcher in a lab

Annual counts of doctoral recipients are a direct measure of investment in science and engineering.
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January 23, 2014

The National Science Foundation recently released a report titled Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2012, unveiling important trends in U.S. doctoral education.

The American system of doctoral education is widely considered to be among the world's best, as evidenced by the large and growing number of international students who choose to pursue doctoral degrees at U.S. universities each year. Many of these students are among the top students in their respective countries.

The report calls attention to important trends in doctoral education organized around five key questions, among them: Who earns a U.S. doctorate? Which fields attract students? What influences the path to the doctorate?

Annual counts of doctorate recipients are a direct measure of the investment in human resources devoted to science, engineering, research and scholarship. These can serve as leading indicators of the capacity of knowledge-creation and innovation in various domains. Understanding the themes outlined in this report is critical to making informed improvements in this country's doctoral education system.

Trends in the report can be examined in greater depth through accompanying online resources, including an interactive version of the report and 70 detailed data tables available as PDF and Excel files.

For more information on this report, please contact Mark K. Fiegener.

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
Mark K. Fiegener, NSF, (703) 292-4622,

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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