Science Resources Studies Division
DATA BRIEF Directorate for
Social, Behavioral
and Economic

National Science Foundation
Vol. 1997 No.2, March 7, 1997

    Academic R&D Spending Continued to Grow in FY 1995

By M. Marge

Federal Government provided 60-percent share of academic R&D spending for the third consecutive year.

  Separately budgeted research and development (R&D) expenditures in academic science and engineering programs continued steady growth in FY 1995, reaching $22 billion-an increase of 5 percent from 1994 levels. When adjusted for inflation, academic R&D increased 3 percent, slightly less than the 3.5-percent constant dollar average annual growth that was reported during the previous 5 years.

Sources of R&D Funding
Federally financed academic R&D spending increased 5 percent (3 percent in constant dollars) in FY 1995, to $13 billion. For the third consecutive year, the Federal Government provided 60 percent of the R&D dollars expended at universities and colleges. Ten years earlier, the Federal share of the academic R&D performance total was 63 percent (table 1).

The 5-percent increase in R&D expenditures from all non-Federal sources combined (3 percent in constant dollars) mirrored Federal and total gains, reaching $8.8 billion in FY 1995. Funds from State and local governments increased the fastest-6 percent in FY 1995, after little growth in 1994 (less than 1 percent). Institutional funds grew by nearly 6 percent, industry funding was up 5 percent, and funds from all other non-Federal sources (including private foundations and voluntary sources) rose 1 percent.

Total expenditures devoted to basic research at universities and colleges rose to $14.8 billion, a 5-percent increase over FY 1994, or a 3-percent gain after adjusting for inflation. The Federal Government provided $9.5 billion, for a 6-percent increase (4 percent in constant dollars). As a result, the Federal share of total basic research increased for the fourth consecutive year, from 61 percent in 1991 to 64 percent in 1995.

Applied research and development activities combined totaled $7.3 billion in 1995, up 5 percent over 1994 levels. The Federal Government provided 53 percent of the applied R&D total in 1995.

Fields of Research
Academic R&D spending in engineering increased 6 percent over 1994 levels compared to a 5-percent gain for the sciences. All but mathematical sciences grew faster than the 1.8-percent rate of inflation in major science and engineering fields for which data were collected. Rates of growth range from a high of 7 percent in the social sciences to a low of 1 percent in mathematical sciences. Federally financed expenditures kept pace with inflation in 6 of the 8 major science and engineering fields (chart 1). Only Federal funding increases for environmental and mathematical sciences fell below the rate of inflation.

Historically, R&D expenditures have been highly concentrated in relatively few institutions. The 100 leading research institutions accounted for 82 percent of Federally financed spending and 80 percent of all R&D dollars in FY 1995. The 20 leading research performers represented a 36-percent share of Federally sponsored expenditures and 31 percent of total academic R&D spending (table 2).

    This Data Brief was prepared by M. Marge Machen, National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Studies, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA. 22230. For free printed copies of SRS Data Briefs, write to the above address, call 703-306-1773, or send e-mail to

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