TABLE 2-1 Bachelor’s, Master’s, and Doctoral Degrees Conferred and Percent Change over Time, Selected Years, 1970-1971 to 2004-2005

Year

Bachelor’s

Master’s

Doctorates

1970-1971

839,730

230,509

32,107

1975-1976

925,746

311,771

34,064

1980-1981

935,140

295,739

32,958

1985-1986

987,823

288,567

33,653

1990-1991

1,094,538

337,168

39,294

1995-1996

1,164,792

406,301

44,652

2000-2001

1,244,171

468,476

44,904

2001-2002

1,291,900

482,118

44,160

2002-2003

1,348,503

512,645

46,024

2003-2004

1,399,542

558,940

48,378

2004-2005

1,439,264

574,618

52,631

Percent change, 1970-1971 to 2004-2005

71%

149%

64%

Percent change, 1995-1996 to 2004-2005

24%

41%

18%

SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Higher Education General Information Survey, “Degrees and Other Formal Awards Conferred,” surveys 1970-1971 through 1985-1986 and 1990-1991 through 2004-2005; and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, “Completions Survey” (C: 91-99), Fall 2000 through Fall 2005. (See Digest of Education Statistics, 2006, Table 257, http://nces.ed.gov/programs/digest/d06/tables/dt06_257.asp, accessed October 22, 2007.)

research and studies, and a catchall field, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary studies. With the exception of computer science, the numbers of master’s degrees awarded in natural sciences fields are both small and slow growing. Master’s degrees awarded in the biological sciences grew 27 percent from 1975-1976 to 2004-2005. The number in the mathematics and the physical sciences grew just 16 and 5 percent, respectively, during this 30-year period.

Though career-oriented fields now dominate master’s degree programs, this has not always been the case. In Judith Glazer-Raymo’s words, “Throughout its long history, the master’s degree has been variously characterized by graduate faculty and deans as an intermediate degree,



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