award has been made, are generally accorded a great deal of autonomy in pursuing their educational and research goals.

In the years since the NRSA program was established, funding for research training has grown overall much more slowly than the NIH budget. In 1975, when the NRSA program began, it supported 3,752 graduate students and postdoctoral fellows, and this grew to 11,565 slots by 1980. Thirty-two years after this, when the NIH budget had grown by more than 1300 percent (in nominal dollars), the NRSA program supported only 13,790 slots per year. The level of support has been approximately stable since 1995. It is important to note that these numbers refer to available “slots” on the grants, and since a given student is often appointed for more than one year, this measure of level of support overestimates the actual number of students supported by this mechanism, possibly by as much as two-fold. The NRSA provides but a small part of NIH’s total support for graduate education—about 22 percent—while roughly two-thirds of the nation’s graduate student support is in the form of Research Assistant-ships funded directly by NIH research grants.

The relative numbers of trainees at the predoctoral and postdoctoral levels have varied over the life of the program. More training was initially provided at the postdoctoral level, but by 2008, 55 percent of the trainees were predoctoral. The training mechanisms (i.e., trainee vs. fellow) have also changed. Although the growth in predoctoral training has predominantly been at the individual fellowship level, in absolute terms the trainees still far outnumber fellows. In contrast, the decline in postdoctoral training has been all at the fellowship level (see Table 1-1).

These numbers do not reflect the actual number of predoctoral and postdoctoral trainees and fellows since an individual may receive support for up to 3 years. In recent years the average median time for a trainee has been 2 years, which implies that the actual number of graduate students who have received predoctoral support is less than the total in the table by a factor of about two. The average period for fellows is slightly longer at 2.2 years. In summary, this means that about half of the 6,641 trainees in 2008 and a little over half of the 1,537 fellows in 2008 should be counted as also

TABLE 1-1 NRSA Trainees and Fellows, by Broad Field, 1975-2008

FY

1975

1980

1985

1990

1995

2000

2005

2006

2007

2008

Basic Biomedical Sciences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predoctoral Trainees (T32)

1,009

4,184

4,026

4,701

5,095

4,628

4,845

4,516

4,937

5,390

Predoctoral Fellowship (F30, F31)

27

21

80

123

411

400

862

962

1,074

1,154

Postdoctoral Trainees (T32)

474

2,200

2,128

2,232

2,191

2,310

2,598

2,463

2,386

2,475

Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)

1,106

1,982

1,583

1,483

1,679

1,598

1,365

1,374

1,291

1,284

Total

2,616

8,387

7,817

8,539

9,376

8,936

9,670

9,315

9,688

10,303

Behavioral and Social Sciences

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predoctoral Trainees (T32)

208

655

501

619

505

451

506

522

421

416

Predoctoral Fellowship (F30, F31)

125

74

41

58

101

207

214

183

154

147

Postdoctoral Trainees (T32)

32

368

392

398

411

465

460

401

350

301

Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32)

146

131

86

78

112

114

104

77

50

50

Total

511

1,228

1,020

1,153

1,129

1,237

1,284

1,183

975

914

Clinical Sciences (Excluding Health Services)

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Predoctoral Trainees (T32)

65

284

379

385

830

558

633

602

711

807

Predoctoral Fellowship (F30, F31)

3

2

8

153

108

123

190

209

222

228

Postdoctoral Trainees (T32)

346

1,408

1,714

1,287

1,553

1,467

1,893

1,930

1,872

1,968

Postdoctoral Fellowship (F32 )

211

250

180

99

75

93

140

131

137

143

Total

625

1,944

2,281

1,924

2,566

2,241

2,856

2,872

2,942

3,146

Health Services Research Predoctoral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIH Predoctoral Trainees

0

3

10

11

6

0

20

27

28

28

NIH Predoctoral Fellows

0

0

1

1

4

8

14

7

8

8

AHRQ Predoctoral Trainees

0

0

8

22

19

3

71

67

76

71

AHRQ Predoctoral Fellows

0

0

0

0

0

0

1

2

1

2

Total

0

3

19

34

29

11

106

103

113

107

Health Services Research Postdoctoral

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

NIH Postdoctoral Trainees

0

3

5

31

16

0

31

39

29

40

NIH Postdoctoral Fellows

0

0

1

2

1

1

4

3

3

5

AHRQ Postdoctoral Trainees

0

0

5

5

1

3

40

35

37

40

AHRQ Postdoctoral Fellows

0

0

0

3

0

0

2

2

3

2

Total

0

3

11

41

18

4

77

79

72

85

Total All Fields

3,752

11,565

11,148

11,691

13,118

12,429

13,993

13,552

13,790

14,555



The National Academies | 500 Fifth St. N.W. | Washington, D.C. 20001
Copyright © National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved.
Terms of Use and Privacy Statement