U.S. Research Universities Report Drop in the Number of Doctorates
For the first time in 14 years, the number of doctorates awarded by American research universities fell in 1999, according to a national study released last month.
A total of 41,140 doctorates were awarded by American universities in 1999, down 3.6 percent from the previous year. Over the 40 years that this survey has been conducted, there has been only one bigger drop — 3.7 percent from 1976 to 1977. The number of doctorates awarded in 1999 is only slightly higher than the number conferred in 1994.
The statistics on degree production come from the annual Survey of Earned
Doctorates conducted by the University of Chicago’s National Opinion Research Center and sponsored for the past 40 years by five federal agencies.
As always, the report reviewed the overall trends in doctorates awarded at American universities across seven broad fields. The report examines trends in doctoral awards by sex, race and ethnicity, and citizenship. In 1999, 57 percent of the doctoral recipients were men, about two-thirds were U.S. citizens, and about 64 percent were White.
The report also examines how long students took to earn their doctorates — on average, 7.3 years. That number has held steady in recent years, as has the average age of most doctoral recipients (nearly 34). Some 60 percent of doctoral recipients were married or in relationships akin to marriage.
Most doctoral recipients — 61 percent — received most of their financial support from fellowships or teaching and research assistantships; 33 percent relied on their own resources. Half had no educational debts when they earned their degrees, while 13 percent had educational debts of $30,000 or more.
For the first time, the survey included information about where foreign students were earning their degrees. The University of
Illinois at Urbana-Champaign conferred the most doctorates to foreign students — 243 of them. Ohio State University and the University of Texas-Austin followed closely.
The survey also indicated what proportion of the doctorates granted by individual institutions went to foreign students. At 10 institutions, more than 50 percent of the doctorates were awarded to non-U.S. citizens in 1999. New Jersey Institute of Technology led the pack, granting 14 of its 18 doctorates, or 80 percent, to foreign students. Rockefeller
University granted 10 of its 18 doctorates or 61 percent, to non-U.S. citizens.
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