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Number of science and engineering graduate students up in 2014


March 30, 2016 - 11:57 AM


The number of science and engineering graduate students at U.S. academic institutions rose by 3 percent between 2013 and 2014, owing largely to a 13.1 percent increase in foreign graduate enrollment.

According to a new report from the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, (NCSES) in 2014 a total of 587,161 students were enrolled in masters’ or doctorate programs in science and engineering (S&E), up from a comparable number of 570,300 the previous year.

There was also an influx of nearly 25,000 additional S&E graduate students on temporary visas over the same period, bringing foreign enrollment to 213,783.

The increase in foreign students overshadowed a 2.1 percent decline in domestic graduate enrollment, which fell from 381,225 in 2013 to 373,378 in 2014.

The 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 percent to 15.7, including a 5.3 percent decline of 3,895 fewer students between 2013 and 2014.

Institutional support, meanwhile, has remained stable since 2009 -- about 40.2 percent of students received 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 percent and electrical engineering by 9.9 percent from 2013 to 2014.
  • Graduate enrollment in most of the engineering fields has risen by at least 20 percent over the past five years.
  • Graduate enrollment declined by 5.8 percent in psychology and 2.6 percent in the social sciences from 2013 to 2014.

The NCSES findings were drawn from the 2014 Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS). In 2014, the GSS 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 for graduate students in S&E was 601,883 in 2014 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.

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