Number of science, engineering grad students up in 2014

Increase largely due to influx of foreign students; number of ag science graduate students continues to rise.

The number of science and engineering (S&E) graduate students at U.S. academic institutions rose 3% between 2013 and 2014, owing largely to a 13.1% increase in foreign graduate enrollment, according to the National Science Foundation (NSF).

NSF said a new report from the National Center for Science & Engineering Statistics (NCSES) shows that in 2014, a total of 587,161 students were enrolled in S&E master's or doctorate programs, up from a comparable number of 570,300 the previous year (Table).

There was also an influx of nearly 25,000 additional S&E graduate students on temporary visas over the same period, bringing foreign student enrollment to 213,783. NSF said the increase in foreign students overshadowed a 2.1% decline in domestic graduate enrollment, which fell from 381,225 in 2013 to 373,378 in 2014.

The NCSES report also shows a continuing trend of full-time graduate students shifting from federal sources of financial support to self-support. Since 2009, the amount of students receiving federal support declined from 19.0% to 15.7%, including a 5.3% decline of 3,895 fewer students between 2013 and 2014.

Institutional support, meanwhile, has remained stable since 2009, with about 40.2% of students receiving institutional support, even with growing graduate enrollment.

Other findings in the report include:

* A rise in enrollment in computer sciences and electrical engineering continued, with computer sciences increasing by 22.1% and electrical engineering by 9.9% from 2013 to 2014.

* Graduate enrollment in most of the engineering fields has risen by at least 20% over the past five years.

* Graduate enrollment declined by 5.8% in psychology and 2.6% in the social sciences from 2013 to 2014.

* Graduate enrollment in agricultural sciences has been steadily increasing, with 16,947 students in 2014 — 3.2% more than in 2015. The number of postdoctoral appointees in agricultural sciences has also been on the rise, increasing to 1,395 appointees in 2014, up 5.8%.

The NCSES findings were drawn from the 2014 "Survey of Graduate Students & Postdoctorates in Science & Engineering." In 2014, the survey frame was updated following an evaluation that identified 151 eligible but not previously surveyed U.S. academic institutions. Under the new survey frame, total enrollment in 2014 for graduate students in S&E was 601,883, and foreign graduate enrollment in those fields was 219,371.

For more information, including how the graduate enrollment levels changed in specific areas of study, read the full InfoBrief.

NSF is an independent federal agency that supports fundamental research and education across all S&E fields. It has a budget of $7.5 billion for fiscal 2016. NSF funds reach all 50 states through grants to nearly 2,000 colleges, universities and other institutions.

Graduate enrollment in S&E, by field: 2009-14

           

% change

Field

2011

2012

2013

2014 (old)a

2014 (new)a

2013-14 old

2013-14 new

S&E

560,941

561,418

570,300

587,161

601,883

3.0

5.5

Science

414,440

413,033

417,251

425,148

437,395

1.9

4.8

  Agricultural sciences

16,129

16,234

16,429

16,947

17,505

3.2

6.5

  Biological sciences

75,423

76,447

76,649

76,029

78,490

-0.8

2.4

  Computer sciences

51,234

51,789

56,339

68,766

76,546

22.1

35.9

  Earth, atmospheric & ocean sciences

15,820

16,069

15,816

15,423

15,710

-2.5

-0.7

  Mathematics & statistics

23,801

24,575

24,804

25,502

25,874

2.8

4.3

  Physical sciences

39,694

39,928

40,019

40,196

40,332

0.4

0.8

  Psychology

54,486

54,117

54,102

50,938

48,833

-5.8

-9.7

  Social sciences

111,661

108,169

107,278

104,445

105,742

-2.6

-1.4

  Other sciencesb

26,192

25,705

25,815

26,902

28,363

4.2

9.9

Engineering

146,501

148,385

153,049

162,013

164,488

5.9

7.5

  Aerospace eng.

5,691

5,069

5,181

5,116

5,116

-1.3

-1.3

  Architecture

3,111

2,363

2,176

1,812

1,817

-16.7

-16.5

  Biomedical eng.

9,175

9,157

9,198

9,510

9,510

3.4

3.4

  Chemical eng.

8,828

9,222

9,698

9,853

9,870

1.6

1.8

  Civil eng.

19,596

19,922

20,110

20,660

20,789

2.7

3.4

  Electrical eng.

41,580

42,347

45,562

50,051

51,909

9.9

13.9

  Industrial & manufacturing eng.

14,494

14,469

14,363

14,659

14,845

2.1

3.4

  Mechanical eng.

21,883

23,088

24,087

25,508

25,651

5.9

6.5

  Metallurgical & materials eng.

6,649

6,985

7,144

7,473

7,518

4.6

5.2

  Other eng.

15,494

15,763

15,530

17,371

17,463

11.9

12.4

aIn 2014, the survey frame was updated following a comprehensive frame evaluation study. The study identified potentially eligible but not previously surveyed U.S. academic institutions with master’s- or doctorate-granting programs in science, engineering or health. A total of 151 newly eligible institutions were added, and two private for-profit institutions offering mostly practitioner-based graduate degrees were determined to be ineligible.

b Includes communication, family and consumer sciences and human sciences, neuroscience and multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Survey of Graduate Students & Postdoctorates in Science & Engineering.

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