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Doctoral institutions: What draws students to an institution?

Doctoral institutions differ with respect to the mix of degree programs they offer and the students they attract. Understanding how these factors vary across different types of institutions can better inform the enrollment decisions of future doctoral students.

Doctorates awarded, by type of doctoral institution: 1958-2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities 2013. Related detailed data: table 11.

Overall counts and trends

The relative share of research doctorates awarded by very high research institutions declined steadily from 89% in 1958 to 76% in 1980. Over the same period, the relative share awarded by high research universities increased by 7 percentage points and that of doctoral research universities increased by 2 percentage points. These trends have continued, at a slower pace, for all three types of institutions since 1980, with the share of doctorates awarded by very high research universities declining to 73% in 2013, and the shares awarded by high research universities and doctoral research universities increasing slightly.

Doctorates awarded, by type of doctoral institution and field of study: 2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities 2013. Related detailed data: table 11.

Fields of study

The prominence of particular doctoral fields of study varies across the types of institution. In 2013, more than 60% of the doctorates awarded by very high research universities were in life sciences, physical sciences, and engineering fields, whereas one-half of the doctorates awarded by high research universities and one-third of the doctorates awarded by doctoral research universities were in these fields. The relative share of humanities doctorates was also greater in very high research universities than in high research and doctoral research universities. In contrast, doctorates in social sciences and education fields accounted for almost half of the 2013 doctorates awarded by doctoral research universities, and more than one-third of those awarded by high research universities, but less than one-quarter of the doctorates awarded by very high research universities.

Female doctorate recipients, by type of doctoral institution: 1993-2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013. Related detailed data: tables 14, 15.

Characteristics of doctorate recipients: Sex

In 2013, women earned more than one-half of the doctorates awarded by doctoral research universities and nearly one-half of the doctorates awarded by high and very high research universities. In the very high research universities, the share of doctorates awarded to women increased steadily from 1993 to 2009 and has remained level since then. The upward trend in the proportion of female doctorate recipients ended in the early 2000s in the high and doctoral research universities.

Doctorate recipients holding temporary visas, by type of doctoral institution: 1993-2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities 2013. Related detailed data: tables 10, 25, 26.

Characteristics of doctorate recipients: Citizenship

A total of 15,678 temporary visa holders earned science and engineering (S&E) and non-S&E doctorates in 2013. In most years from 1993 to 2013, the percentage of doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders by both very high and high research universities was more than double the percentage awarded by doctoral research universities. The share of doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders by all three types of institutions increased over the past 20 years.

Doctorate recipients from underrepresented minority groups, by type of doctoral institution: 1993-2013

(Percent)
NOTE: Underrepresented minorities include blacks or African Americans, Hispanics or Latinos, and American Indians or Alaska Natives.
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013. Related detailed data: tables 9, 19.

Characteristics of doctorate recipients: Race and ethnicity

In 2013, a total of 4,414 doctorate recipients who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents reported being members of underrepresented minority groups. Underrepresented minority doctorate recipients are most prevalent from doctoral research universities (20% of total doctorates in 2013) and least prevalent from very high research universities (8% of total doctorates). The share of doctorates awarded to underrepresented minorities has grown over the past 20 years in all types of institutions.

Baccalaureate-origin institution type, by type of doctoral institution: 2009-13

(Percent)
NOTE: Other doctorate-granting universities includes high research universities and doctoral research universities.
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013. Related detailed data: table 11.

Characteristics of doctorate recipients: Baccalaureate-origin institution type

The graduating doctoral cohorts of the three doctoral institution types differ with respect to where the bachelor's degree was earned. Over the 5-year period 2009 to 2013, more than one-third of doctorate recipients from very high research universities had previously earned their bachelor's degree from a very high research university, and another one-third earned their bachelor's degree from a foreign institution. A similar share of doctorate recipients from high research universities (33%) had previously earned their bachelor's degree from foreign universities, but a larger share of these doctoral graduates earned their bachelor's degree from other doctorate-granting universities (defined as high research and doctoral research universities) and from master's-granting universities. Among doctorate recipients from doctoral research universities, almost half had earned bachelor's degrees from master's-granting and other doctorate-granting universities and only 18% had earned a bachelor's degree from a foreign university.