S&E Degrees: 1966–2008
During the production of this report the America COMPETES Reauthorization Act of 2010 was signed into law. Section 505 of the bill renames the Division of Science Resources Statistics as the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES). The Center retains its reporting line to the National Science Foundation's Directorate for Social, Behavioral and Economic Sciences. The new name signals the central role of NCSES in the collection, interpretation, analysis, and dissemination of objective data on the science and engineering enterprise.
This publication is based on data from two annual federal surveys. Bachelor's and master's degree data and data on doctoral degrees in engineering technologies were collected from all accredited institutions of higher education by the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System Completions Survey, conducted by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), U.S. Department of Education. Data on doctoral degrees in all fields except engineering technologies were collected by the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), a universe survey of individual doctorate recipients sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and five other federal agencies.
These data cover earned degrees conferred from 1966 to 2008 in the aggregate United States, which comprises the 50 states, the District of Columbia, and the U.S. territories and outlying areas (American Samoa, the former Canal Zone, Guam, the Northern Mariana Islands, Puerto Rico, the U.S. Virgin Islands, and the Trust Territory of the Pacific Islands). Degree data are compiled for a 12-month period, July of one year through June of the following year. For convenience, degrees in a given July through June period are referred to by the year in which the period ended, e.g., 2008 means the 12-month period beginning 1 July 2007 and ending 30 June 2008.
This publication focuses on degrees in science and engineering fields, and, where appropriate, the data are reclassified according to NSF field categories. In the data tables, engineering technology degrees and degrees in the health/medical sciences are not included in totals for science and engineering fields but are provided as separate data tables, as are data on first professional degrees.
The time series for degree data may be affected by changes in definitions, instructions, and field classifications, including the introduction of new specialties. In this report, data for earlier years are presented as consistently as possible with current field classifications. See appendix B, "Classification of Programs," for further information on the field classifications used. See also the section "Field Classification Schemes" in appendix A, "Technical Notes," for a discussion of the impacts of field classification changes on counts of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral degrees in six engineering fields and two social sciences fields. Bachelor's and master's degree data for years 2000 to 2006 differ from data presented in earlier editions of this report owing to the field classification changes and also because the degrees from a larger set of institutions are now being included in this report for 2000 and later years. See appendix A for a discussion of this change in coverage. Also note that detailed national data were not released by NCES for the academic year ending 1999.