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Science and Engineering Doctorates

Which fields attract students?

Field trends

Science and engineering

Doctorates in science and engineering (S&E) fields, particularly in life sciences, are a growing share of all doctorates awarded. Overall, S&E doctorates accounted for 75% of all doctorates awarded in 2015, a substantially larger share than 10 years earlier (68%). With the exception of psychology and social sciences, the relative share of doctorates awarded in every broad S&E field increased over the past decade. Although the number of doctorates in psychology and social sciences was 27% larger in 2015 than it was in 2005, the relative share of doctorates awarded in this field showed no upward trend (figure A).

Doctorates awarded in science and engineering fields of study: 1995–2015

Chart of Doctorates awarded in science and engineering fields of study: 1995–2015
(Percent)
Year Life sciences Physical sciences and earth sciences Mathematics and computer sciences Psychology and social sciences Engineering
1995 19.2 10.9 5.2 16.6 14.4
1996 19.6 10.7 4.8 16.9 14.9
1997 19.8 10.7 4.8 17.3 14.4
1998 20.2 10.7 4.9 17.3 13.9
1999 20.0 10.4 4.7 18.0 13.0
2000 20.8 9.8 4.6 18.0 12.9
2001 20.5 9.9 4.5 17.6 13.5
2002 21.2 9.7 4.3 17.3 12.7
2003 20.9 9.7 4.6 17.4 13.0
2004 20.9 9.6 4.8 17.0 13.7
2005 21.5 10.0 5.4 16.5 14.8
2006 21.3 10.3 6.1 15.9 15.8
2007 22.2 10.3 6.3 15.2 16.1
2008 22.7 10.1 6.5 15.7 16.1
2009 23.0 10.4 6.4 16.0 15.4
2010 23.6 10.4 6.7 16.4 15.8
2011 23.6 10.8 6.7 16.8 16.4
2012 23.5 10.6 6.9 16.7 16.6
2013 23.2 10.6 6.9 16.3 17.1
2014 23.1 10.9 7.2 16.2 17.8
2015 22.8 10.8 7.0 16.5 18.0
Table of Doctorates awarded in science and engineering fields of study: 1995–2015