The job market for PhDs – across all disciplines – is continuing to tighten. That’s one finding of the most recent NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates.
According to Inside Higher Ed, the survey found that US universities awarded over 54,000 research doctorates in 2014 – the most ever. But fewer of those newly-minted doctorates are finding employment in their fields. In 2014, 61.4% of all PhDs indicated that they had either employment (or a postdoc) at the time of graduation, down from 69.5% in 2009. The numbers are lowest in the humanities (54.3%, down from 63.3%) – but the job market contraction is occurring across the board.
Here are the percentages of PhDs reporting they had either a postdoc or job at the time of graduation, based on the NSF data from 2009 and the most recent report:
The report also includes data on student debt and diversity, along with other measures (including average salaries in different fields, etc.). Here are some highlights:
• Women earned 46% of doctorates in 2014, continuing an upward trend.
• As the number of STEM doctorates increases, women’s share is increasing. From 1994-2014, the number of women earning STEM doctorates doubled, while the number of men receiving STEM degrees increased 26%.
• The proportion of doctorates awarded to African Americans increased from 4.1 percent to 6.4 percent between 1994 and 2014. Over the same period, the rate for Hispanics or Latinos rose by 3.3 percent to 6.5 percent. (However, as Inside Higher Ed points out, these gains are over the long run, and year-to-year numbers haven’t shown much change; also, the numbers of doctorates awarded in STEM fields are still extremely small, making faculty diversity an ongoing challenge.)
• On average, students in the social sciences and humanities are more likely to borrow money and carry greater student loan debt than students in the sciences.
The next NSF data release is slated for the end of 2017.
By Dr. Rebecca Blustein, Fellowship Advisor at UCLA and former Accepted admissions consultant.
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