Click for next page ( 2

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

Below are the first 10 and last 10 pages of uncorrected machine-read text (when available) of this chapter, followed by the top 30 algorithmically extracted key phrases from the chapter as a whole.
Intended to provide our own search engines and external engines with highly rich, chapter-representative searchable text on the opening pages of each chapter. Because it is UNCORRECTED material, please consider the following text as a useful but insufficient proxy for the authoritative book pages.

Do not use for reproduction, copying, pasting, or reading; exclusively for search engines.

OCR for page 1
Introduction Since 1948 the National Academy of Sciences (NAS) has published a series of seven books having to do with doctorates granted in the United States, the baccalaureate origins of these doctorate recipients, and some of their more important educational and employment characteristics. These books are listed in the selective bibliog- raphy at the end of this book. From 1946 to the present a file has been built up within the NAS that contains data on all PhD's (or equivalent third-level research degree holders) from U.S. universities since 1920. This file is called the Doctorate Records File (DRF). It has been the focal point for many studies and a starting point for many others. The series of seven books, of which this is the latest, have de- scribed the numbers of PhD's and their origins, characteristics, educational backgrounds, and plans at the time of PhD graduation. The pres- ent book goes farther back and extends the data forward to 1974, tracing the growth of PhD graduations from the beginning over a century ago. It provides a wider context regarding the relationship of PhD's to the rest of the U.S. population. It does not attempt to trace the origins of graduate education, the development of policies, or the influence of individuals; it is limited to a presentation of data on degrees awarded and certain characteristics of those receiving degrees. No attempt is made to evaluate the quality of the degrees; in the statistics herein presented we are concerned only with a count of numbers. The four chapters of this book describe the numbers of PhD's over the past century and how these numbers have varied; the characteristics of PhD's, particularly with regard to education, citizenship, age, and migration; the plans of the PhD's at the time of graduation, and some- thing of how these plans were carried out in actuality, with regard to further education or employment; and, finally, some data regarding the institutions from which the PhD's came—the numbers of schools, growth in numbers since 1920, and geographic distribution and the under- graduate institutions in which the PhD's earned their bachelor's degrees. Additional data, too voluminous and detailed for this book, will be made available on a cost reimbursement basis for those who wish to pursue research in this area. The highlights of the findings reported in this book are given below. HIGHLIGHTS Historically, PhD's were first conferred by Yale in 1861. Over the period since 1875 the growth in numbers of PhD's has been at an average rate of about 7 percent per annum. This results in approximately doubling the output each decade. This growth rate has fluctuated widely, particu- larly as a result of World Wars I and II and also as a result of the great economic depression of the 1930's, as well as for reasons that cannot be accurately determined, particularly in the early years of this century. About 100 years ago, in the late 1870's, the number of PhD's graduating each year was about 40; by 1900 this number had risen to about 300; by 1925 it was about 1,200; in the mid-1970's it had stabilized at about 33,000. Education of the U.S. Population The PhD's represent an increasing fraction of an increasingly well-educated U.S. population. Over the past century, the average educational

OCR for page 1
level of the general population has increased at a rate of one grade level each 15 years. The PhD's have come predominantly from families at the leading edge of this educational wave; their parents were, on the average, about two grade levels ahead of the general public. The women PhD's come from slightly better-educated families than do their male colleagues, but their mothers had less education than their fathers—which is typical of the general public also. Field vari- ations in the level of education of the parents of PhD's are pronounced, but have become less so over the past 2 decades. The pattern of these changes is described in Chapter 2. The Population of PhD's The above data refer to graduations. By taking into account the age at graduation, the propor- tions of men and women in each field, and age- specific death rates (which are much lower for PhD's than for the general population), it is possible to construct a computer model of the number of PhD's by field, sex, and age in the U.S. population. Such checks as have been made to date have indicated that this model provides rather accurate information on the population of living PhD's of U.S. origin. Projections of these numbers can be made, based on projections of anticipated output of new PhD's into the future. Over the period since 1940, the PhD populations in most fields have followed paral- lel growth trends, growing at an average rate of about 7 percent per year. Three fields have grown considerably more rapidly than the average. These are education, which has grown at a rate of about 11 percent per annum, and engineering and psychology, which have grown at about 8 per- cent per annum. It is worthy of note that these three fields have a large "applied" component, relative to that typical of the slower-growing fields. Women and the Doctorate American society until recently has regarded graduate education as predominantly for men, but trends have varied. At the turn of the century, about 9 percent of the new PhD's were women. In the 1920's this shifted markedly, the percentage of women rising to about 15 per- cent of PhD graduations in the early 1920's, then declining, first gradually, then more rapidly during the period of World War II and its aftermath, to a low of about 10 percent in the early 1950's. Since that time, the propor- tion of women has increased, first slowly, then much more rapidly, until in 1974 it was over 20 percent of PhD's granted and still rising. Changes in the sex ration have been accompanied, in recent years, with a shift in the overall field mix: the natural sciences, particularly the physical sciences and engineering, have dropped, while the behavioral sciences, the humanities, and education have been rising. The latter fields have typically had higher propor- tions of women than have the natural sciences. which have historically claimed about half of the male PhD production. Only about one-fourth of the women have graduated in the natural sciences, while another one-fourth have been in education, which has included only about one man in six. Racial/Ethnic Identification Only recently has information on the racial/ ethnic composition of the doctorate population become available. The data presently available— which apply only to the recent graduates and, for a longer period of time, to the science fields—indicate that about 88 percent of recent PhD's are white, 3.4 percent are black, 4 of 1 percent are American Indians, 1.2 percent are of Hispanic origin, and 7.2 percent are of Ori- ental origin. Blacks and American Indians tend to be concentrated in education, and Orientals in the engineering, mathematics, and physical science (EMP) fields. These data include all citizenship categories, foreign as well as U.S. U.S. and Foreign Citizens among the PhD's In those fields of greatest immediate signifi- cance to developing countries, such as agricul- tural sciences, engineering, and the medical sciences, the proportion of non-U.S. citizens is relatively high, from one-fifth to one-third of the total of all U.S. PhD's. In those fields which are most closely bound up with the culture, such as education and psychology, the proportion of foreign citizens is quite low—about 1 in 20. There are important sex differences, varying by field, in foreign citizenship also. Overall, about 15 percent of the male PhD's are foreign citizens, compared with about 10 percent of the female PhD's. Age at Completion of PhD Most PhD's attain the doctorate at about 30 years of age—earlier in the physical sciences, par- ticularly chemistry, and later in the nonscience fields. In education, age 40 is more nearly typical. Most of this age difference is ac- counted for in the baccalaureate-to-doctorate time lapse, although there are age differences at the baccalaureate level also. Over the past half-century, the time in graduate school has increased; a part of the change was that induced by the effects of World War II, which inter- rupted the process of education for so many. However, even in recent years there has been a tendency toward longer time in graduate school, in spite of the effects of programs of support for those in graduate training. Master's Degrees In all fields except chemistry, over half of the PhD's have master's degrees. In chemistry, the proportion is 41 percent; while in physics it is 64 percent; in the biomedical sciences, 65 percent; psychology, 77 percent; the earth

OCR for page 1
sciences, 78 percent; mathematics, 79 percent; the social sciences, 83 percent; humanities, 87 percent; engineering, 89 percent; the agricul- tural sciences, 90 percent; and education, 97 per- cent. The significance of the master's degree varies not only by field but also by the insti- tution granting the degree. In some departments it is a routine landmark for those making prog- ress on their way to the doctorate; in others it is a much more definitive credential in its own right. There are sex differences in the proportion of PhD's who take master's degrees; the percentage is typically higher for women than for men except in the earth sciences, engi- neering, and the agricultural sciences. Field-Switching Patterns Although the major source of PhD's in any given field is the same field at the baccalaureate level, a significant portion of PhD's switch fields between the bachelor's and doctor's degrees, and the switches follow rather pro- nounced patterns. The net result within the sciences is principally a flow from mathematics, physics, chemistry, engineering, and the agri- cultural sciences into the biosciences and earth sciences. There is also a flow from all science fields into the humanities and educa- tion. The remaining fields have an approxi- mate balance in proportions at the bachelor's and doctor's levels. Each field may be con- sidered in terms of its donor/receptor charac- teristics: the extent to which it "donates" its baccalaureate recipients to various doctorate-level "receptor" fields. The patterns of these field switches is described in Chapter 2. Migration Regional shifts from the region in which the bachelor's degree is earned to that in which the doctorate is earned have changed over time, as the spread of doctorate-granting institutions has progressed. In the early days, doctorate education was concentrated heavily in the North- east and in California; more recently, a more even distribution over the United States has brought doctorate-level training nearer home for baccalaureate graduates in other areas. This has resulted in changes over time in the regional migration patterns, which have been shown to be a complex function of the relative strength of each region at the secondary, higher-education, and graduate levels. Patterns of migration are explored to some extent in Chapter 2; a more comprehensive analysis of these matters is available in Migration of PhD's, Before and After the Doctorate, published by the NAS in 1971. After the Doctorate: Education? Employment or Further Postdoctoral education has historically been restricted to a relatively few outstanding scholars or scientists and has frequently been undertaken some years after the doctorate, dur- ing which time the individual has been engaged in teaching and/or research in higher education. More recently, immediate postdoctoral education (following directly upon PhD graduation) has become more common. Currently, up to 40 per- cent of PhD's in the biomedical sciences, but fewer than 1 in 20 in the nonscience fields, undertake such education. Employment The traditional employment for new PhD's has been in universities, particularly those with strong research programs. These universities now offer fewer opportunities, while production of new PhD's remains high. Nonacademic employ- ment has not taken up the slack of cutbacks in university hiring. As a result, the new PhD's who are caught in this squeeze are far less sure of their eventual employment and increas- ingly have taken a variety of postdoctoral appointments as interim employment while seeking permanent jobs better suited to their training and interest. Follow-up via the Comprehensive Roster of Doctoral Scientists and Engineers shows that, by and large, plans for the first year following the doctorate, which are given in the Survey of Earned Doctorates (a form com- pleted by each new PhD), are largely realized. These data are limited at present to the science and engineering fields but will shortly be ex- tended to include the humanities fields also. Geography Geographic movement following the doctorate depends on plans for further training or imme- diate employment, aiiiong other things. Those who plan to take postdoctoral education tend to favor the Pacific Coast or the Middle Atlantic States if they move from the region in which they took the doctorate. Interregional migrants who plan immediate employment after the doctor- ate tend to favor the East North Central States or Middle Atlantic States if they enter academe, or the South Atlantic and Middle Atlantic States, in that order, if they take nonacademic jobs. Thirteen percent of those who seek further training, 5 percent of those who seek academic employment, and 11 percent of those entering non- academic employment go abroad. Foreign citizens predominate among these groups. The PhD-Granting Institutions In 1974 there were 307 regionally accredited institutions granting the doctorate, including as separate institutions medical schools and separately administered branches of large state systems. This was an increase from a total of only 61 institutions in the 1920-1924 period. In the early 1940's there were 107, and in the early 1960's 208, doctorate-granting institutions. This represents an accelerating growth curve, with no present indications of leveling off,

OCR for page 1
although there are administrative and economic forces at work that may reduce this rate of in- crease in the future. The Lion's Share is Shrinking More than half of the PhD degrees granted over the 55-year period from 1920 through 1974 were granted by institutions that began awarding doctorates prior to 1920. Those institutions that began to turn out PhD's in the 1920's ac- count for about one-fifth of the total, while all the others, who began granting PhD's in 1930 or later, account for only one-fourth of the total. The proportions, however, are shift- ing. When institutions are grouped according to the decade in which they began to grant the doctorate, the institutions of the 1930's, 1940's, 1950's, and 1960's are currently almost equal in PhD's granted, and those beginning in the 1970's are rapidly rising in their share of the total. The northeastern corner of the country might be termed the "cradle of PhD education," and it still remains the leading region. Now, however, it has almost been overtaken by the Midwest. Meanwhile the West (the Pacific Coast and the Rocky Mountain States) has risen quite rapidly since the end of World War II but has in turn almost been overtaken by the even more rapid rise of the South, where doctorate-1evel educa- tion was almost nonexistent in 1920.