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Useful Stats: Science and Engineering Doctorates by Area of Study and by State

December 20, 2013

A record number of U.S. students received doctorates in 2012, according to new data from the National Science Foundation. For the first time, the number of doctoral recipients broke 50,000, with a final tally of 51,008. Total doctorates awarded grew by 4.3 percent over the previous year, the largest increase since 2007 and a significant improvement from the previous four years in which the numbers remains fairly steady. The NSF data shows large increases for doctorates in STEM areas, including life sciences, physical sciences and engineering between 2002 and 2012, and little growth in other major fields, including the social sciences, education and humanities.

New U.S. life science doctorates grew to 12,045 in 2012, an increase of 5.2 percent over the previous year and 42 percent over 2002. Life sciences remains the top area of study for doctorates. Almost half of these doctorates (8,440) were awarded in the biological and biomedical sciences, the largest sub-area of study within life sciences. The increase in biological and biomedical science and health sciences doctorates drove the rapid expansion of life sciences awards over the previous decade, growing by 48.2 percent and 41.8 percent, respectively. Growth in agricultural sciences and natural resources was more moderate at 11.2 percent.

Since 2002, the U.S. has produced roughly similar numbers of physical sciences and engineering doctorates. Awards totaled 8,952 in the physical sciences and 8,427 in engineering in 2012. Doctorates in both areas of study grew at a similar, and impressive, pace over the past decade, with physical science awards increasing by 59.7 percent and engineering awards growing by 65.8 percent. Computer and information science doctorates have more than doubled since 2002, fueling much of the growth in the physical sciences. Also, mathematics, physics and astronomy, and chemistry awards grew substantially. The largest increases within engineering came in the sub-fields of materials science engineering and other engineering, which both more than doubled during the 2002-12 period.

Access the NSF data at: http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/sed/2012/

SSTI has compiled a table of sciences and engineering doctorates awards in 2012 by major area of study and by state. The table also includes data on new doctorates per capita, revealing that about 16.2 awards were made in the U.S. in 2012 per 100,000 residents. The top states for per capita awards had smaller populations but expansive graduate programs, including the District of Columbia, Rhode Island and Massachusetts. California led in all three STEM categories in terms of total graduates, but performed slightly below average in per capita doctorates due to its large population.

Download the table at: http://ssti.org/sites/default/files/121913.xls

useful stats, stem, higher ed, workforce