Email Print Share

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 Telephone numbers or other contact information may be out of date; please see current contact information at media contacts.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


Media Contacts
Rob Margetta, NSF, (703) 292-2663, email:

Program Contacts
Lynn Milan, NSF, (703) 292-2275, 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.

mail icon Get News Updates by Email 

Connect with us online
NSF website:
NSF News:
For News Media:
Awards database:

Follow us on social