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Doctoral institutions: How do expenses and employment outcomes differ?

Doctoral institutions also differ with respect to the duration and expense of the doctoral experience and the initial postgraduate employment outcomes of doctorate recipients. Knowledge of possible employment outcomes can influence enrollment decisions.

Median time to degree, by type of doctoral institution and broad field of study: 2009-13

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities 2013. Related detailed data: tables 31, 32.

Time to degree

Over the 5-year period 2009 to 2013, doctorate recipients from doctoral research universities took longer than those from very high and high research universities to complete their degree, and this result holds in every broad field of study. Similarly, doctorate recipients from high research universities took longer than those from very high research universities to complete the degree in every broad field except social sciences. The difference in median time to degree of doctorate recipients from doctoral research universities versus very high research universities ranged between 1.1 years in engineering and 5.1 years in other non-science and engineering fields.

Physical sciences and engineering had the shortest median times to degree across the three types of institutions, and education had the longest times to degree.

Doctorate recipients with cumulative education-related debt, by type of doctoral institution: 1993-2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities 2013. Related detailed data: tables 38, 40.

Education-related debt: Graduates with debt

In 2001, roughly one-half of doctorate recipients from all three types of doctoral institutions graduated with outstanding debt that had been incurred during their undergraduate or graduate education. Over the subsequent 12 years the percentage of cumulative education-related debt declined to 46% for graduates of very high research universities, increased to 53% for graduates of high research universities, and increased to 66% for graduates of doctoral research universities.

Level of graduate education-related debt, by type of doctoral institution: 2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013. Related detailed data: tables 38, 39, 40, 41.

Education-related debt: Level of debt

In 2013, the percentage of doctorate recipients with a high level (exceeding $30,000) of education-related debt incurred specifically during graduate education was markedly greater in doctoral research universities (45%) than in high research universities or very high research universities. The proportion of doctorate recipients incurring graduate education-related debt of $30,000 or less (but greater than $0) was similar across the types of institutions, ranging from 15% at doctoral research universities to 20% at high research universities.

Doctorate recipients returning to or continuing in predoctoral employment in the United States, by type of doctoral institution: 1993-2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities 2013. Related detailed data: tables 42, 43, 44, 45.

First postgraduate position: Return to predoctoral employment

Among doctorate recipients with definite commitments for employment (other than postdocs) in the United States, some indicated commitments to return to or continue with employment in a job they held before the award of their doctoral degree. Doctorate recipients from doctoral research universities are more likely to return to predoctoral employment than are doctoral graduates from high research universities, who themselves are more likely than graduates from very high research universities to return to their predoctoral employment. The percentage returning to or continuing in predoctoral employment declined from 1993 to 2013, and the decline was greater for doctoral graduates from very high and high research universities.

Employment sector of doctorate recipients with definite employment commitments in the United States, by type of doctoral institution: 2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013. Related detailed data: tables 46, 47.

First postgraduate position: Employment sector

In 2013, academe was the most common employment sector for doctorate recipients reporting definite commitments for employment in the United States, with approximately half of doctoral graduates from all three institution types committing to academic positions following graduation. A larger share of doctorate recipients from very high research universities (34%) took positions in industry or business than did those from high research universities (22%) or doctoral research universities (18%).

Median salary of doctorate recipients with definite commitments in the United States, by position type and type of doctoral institution: 2013

(Percent)
SOURCE: Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013. Related detailed data: tables 48, 49.

First postgraduate position: Median salaries

Median salaries were similar for doctorate recipients from the three types of institutions among those with definite commitments in 2013 for U.S. employment as postdocs ($40,000 to $43,000) or in academe ($57,000 to $60,000). The highest median salaries for commitments to employment in business or industry were reported by doctorate recipients from very high research universities ($100,000). Median salaries for those with definite commitments for employment in government were highest for doctorate recipients from doctoral research universities ($89,500).