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News Release 16-037

Report: U.S. institutions awarded most doctorates ever recorded in 2014

Trends include more S&E degrees, more doctorates for women

woman holding a piece of hardware

Without continued investment, the U.S. doctoral education system's preeminence is not guaranteed.


April 1, 2016

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.

The 54,070 research doctorate degrees awarded by U.S. institutions in 2014 represent the highest total ever recorded in the 58-year history of the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), an annual census of research degree recipients.

The report, published by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) of the National Science Foundation (NSF), supplies data and analysis for a vital U.S. economic interest: the American system of doctoral education.

The U.S. doctoral education system is widely considered to be among the world's best, attracting many top foreign students. Other nations, however, recognize the economic contributions of doctoral recipients, and are investing heavily in education. Without continued investment and improvement, the U.S. doctoral education system's preeminence is not guaranteed.

By presenting an annual count of U.S. doctoral recipients, NCSES provides a measurement of the human resources devoted to science, engineering, research and scholarship.

NCSES identified overall trends in the 2014 numbers including:

  • The number of science and engineering (S&E) degrees awarded continued a 40-year trend of outpacing non-S&E degrees. The number of non-S&E degrees awarded declined 2 percent from the previous year. In 1974, S&E degrees were 58 percent of the total awarded. In 2014, they were 75 percent.
  • The number of S&E doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders grew to 13,739 in 2014, up 2 percent compared to the previous year and up 45 percent since 2004.
  • The number of S&E doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2014 showed a comparable growth rate -- up 2 percent from the previous year and 42 percent since 2004.
  • In 2014, 10 countries accounted for 70 percent of the doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders. The top three, China, India and South Korea, accounted for more than half.
  • Women earned 46 percent of all doctorates in 2014, continuing a trend of women becoming increasingly prevalent in the annual total of recipients. The growth of women receiving S&E doctorates over the past two decades has significantly exceeded that of men. From 1994 to 2014, the number of women receiving S&E doctorates nearly doubled; the number for men increased by 26 percent.
  • The proportion of doctorates awarded to African Americans has risen from 4.1 percent to 6.4 percent between 1994 and 2014. Over the same period, the rate for Hispanics or Latinos rose by 3.3 percent to 6.5 percent.

For more information on the survey -- including the amount of education-related debt doctorate recipients incur, the kinds of employment they find and how much they earn -- view the full report.

-NSF-

Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-2663, rmargett@nsf.gov

Program Contacts
Lynn Milan, NSF, (703) 292-2275, lmilan@nsf.gov

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) 2017, 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.

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Useful NSF Web Sites:
NSF Home Page: https://www.nsf.gov
NSF News: https://www.nsf.gov/news/
For the News Media: https://www.nsf.gov/news/newsroom.jsp
Science and Engineering Statistics: https://www.nsf.gov/statistics/
Awards Searches: https://www.nsf.gov/awardsearch/