Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers

Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy

National Academy of Sciences
National Academy of Engineering
Institute of Medicine

NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS
Washington, D.C. 1995



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 R1
Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy National Academy of Sciences National Academy of Engineering Institute of Medicine NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS Washington, D.C. 1995

OCR for page R1
Page ii NATIONAL ACADEMY PRESS   ·   2101 Constitution Ave., N.W.  ·   Washington, D.C. 20418 NOTICE: This volume was produced as part of a project approved by the Governing Board of the National Research Council, whose members are drawn from the councils of the National Academy of Sciences, the National Academy of Engineering, and the Institute of Medicine. It is a result of work done by the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) as augmented, which has authorized its release to the public. This report has been reviewed by a group other than the authors according to procedures approved by COSEPUP and the Report Review Committee. The National Academy of Sciences (NAS) is a private, nonprofit, self-perpetuating society of distinguished scholars engaged in scientific and engineering research, dedicated to the furtherance of science and technology and to their use for the general welfare. Under the authority of the charter granted to it by Congress in 1863, the Academy has a working mandate that calls on it to advise the federal government on scientific and technical matters. Dr. Bruce M. Alberts is president of the NAS. The National Academy of Engineering (NAE) was established in 1964, under the charter of the NAS, as a parallel organization of distinguished engineers. It is autonomous in its administration and in the selection of members, sharing with the NAS its responsibilities for advising the federal government. The National Academy of Engineering also sponsors engineering programs aimed at meeting national needs, encourages education and research, and recognizes the superior achievements of engineers. Dr. Robert M. White is president of the NAE. The Institute of Medicine (IOM) was established in 1970 by the NAS to secure the services of eminent members of appropriate professions in the examination of policy matters pertaining to the health of the public. The Institute acts under the responsibility given to the NAS in its congressional charter to be an adviser to the federal government and, on its own initiative, to identify issues of medical care, research, and education. Dr. Kenneth I. Shine is president of the IOM. The Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) is a joint committee of the NAS, the NAE, and the IOM. It includes members of the councils of all three bodies. This project was supported by the National Science Foundation, the U.S. Department of Energy, and the Kellogg Endowment Fund of the National Academy of Sciences and the Institute of Medicine. Library of Congress Catalog Card Number: 95-69122 International Standard Book Number: 0-309-05285-8 Internet Access: This report is available on the National Academy of Sciences' Internet host. It may be accessed via World Wide Web at http://www.nas.edu, via Gopher at gopher.nas.edu, or via FTP at ftp.nas.edu. On the Cover: The cover depicts decision trees illustrating the variety of paths scientists and engineers decide to pursue throughout their career. Available from: National Academy Press, 2101 Constitution Avenue, N.W., Box 285, Washington, D.C. 20055 1-800-624-6242 or 202-334-3313 (in Washington metropolitan area) Copyright 1995 by the National Academy of Sciences. All rights reserved. This document may be reproduced solely for educational purposes without the written permission of the National Academy of Sciences. Printed in the United States of America First Printing. May 1995 Second Printing. November 1995

OCR for page R1
Page iii COMMITTEE ON SCIENCE, ENGINEERING, AND PUBLIC POLICY Study on Graduate Education PHILLIP A. GRIFFITHS (Chairman), Director, Institute for Advanced Study ROBERT McCORMICK ADAMS, Secretary Emeritus, Smithsonian Institution BRUCE M. ALBERTS,* President, National Academy of Sciences ARDEN L. BEMENT, Basil S. Turner Distinguished Professor of Engineering, Purdue University ELKAN R. BLOUT, Harkness Professor, Department of Biological Chemistry and Molecular Pharmacology, Harvard Medical School FELIX E. BROWDER, University Professor, Department of Mathematics, Rutgers University DAVID R. CHALLONER, Vice President for Health Affairs, University of Florida ELLIS B. COWLING, University Distinguished Professor At-Large, North Carolina State University BERNARD N. FIELDS,+ Adele Lehman Professor; Chairman, Department of Microbiology and Molecular Genetics, Harvard Medical School ALEXANDER H. FLAX, Senior Fellow, National Academy of Engineering RALPH E. GOMORY, President, Alfred P. Sloan Foundation THOMAS D. LARSON, Consultant MARY JANE OSBORN, Head, Department of Microbiology, University of Connecticut Health Center PHILLIP A. SHARP, Head, Department of Biology, Center for Cancer Research, Massachusetts Institute of Technology KENNETH I. SHINE,* President, Institute of Medicine RALPH SNYDERMAN, Chancellor for Health Affairs; Dean, School of Medicine, Duke University Medical Center H. GUYFORD STEVER, Trustee and Science Consultant MORRIS TANENBAUM, Vice President, National Academy of Engineering ROBERT M. WHITE,* President, National Academy of Engineering LAWRENCE E. McCRAY, Executive Director Principal Project Staff MICHAEL McGEARY, Study Director DEBORAH D. STINE, Senior Program Officer ALAN ANDERSON, Consultant/Writer * Ex officio member. + Deceased, February 1, 1995.

OCR for page R1

OCR for page R1
Page v PREFACE In 1993, the Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy (COSEPUP) issued a report entitled Science, Technology, and the Federal Government: National Goals for a New Era (the Goals report), which proposed a framework for federal policy to support science and technology. During the preparation of the report, it became apparent that a complete discussion of the science and technology enterprise would require an examination of the process by which scientists and engineers are educated. If scientists and engineers are to contribute effectively to national, scientific, and technological objectives, their educational experience must prepare them to do so. The present report can be considered a companion volume to the Goals report. Several key questions guided the committee during its initial deliberations: · What are typical career paths for scientists and engineers, and how have they changed in recent years? · Given present career paths, what are the most appropriate structures and functions for graduate education? · How can science and engineering graduate students be prepared for a variety of careers in teaching, industry, government, and other employment sectors, in addition to research? · Are we producing the right numbers of PhDs?1 · What should be the nation's goals for graduate science and engineering education? 1 Because of the concerns regarding PhD unemployment, the report focuses on the PhD.

OCR for page R1
Page vi In attempting to answer those questions, we found important gaps in our knowledge of employment rates and patterns. It has proved difficult, for example, to determine where PhDs are and what they are doing in nonacademic positions or to determine accurately either unemployment rates of scientists and engineers or the extent of underemployment, especially among recent graduates, because of the lack of timely data. In fact, we were sufficiently troubled by the lack of generally available information to conclude that students', professors', and mentors' lack of accurate, timely, and accessible data on employment trends, careers, and sources of student support is a serious flaw in our education system. This deficiency makes it difficult for potential and current graduate students to make well-informed decisions as to whether and where to enter graduate school. It also hampers the faculties at our universities in preparing their students adequately for the full range of professional careers in science and engineering. Therefore, the committee faced a dilemma—whether to make recommendations despite gaps in current understanding or to counsel delay until such understanding is attained. It proceeded to make recommendations now because students, universities and colleges, professors, mentors, funding agencies, employers, and others must make decisions today that will affect the careers of science and engineering students for the rest of their lives. The recommendations in this report reflect a common theme. Many of the job opportunities of the future will favor students with greater breadth of academic and career skills, so the universities and their partners in the graduate-education enterprise should therefore cooperate to broaden curricular options for graduate students. We hope this report will be useful not only for university presidents, provosts, deans, and others in the decision-making structure of universities, but also for all institutions and individuals who are part of the graduate-education enterprise: federal and state government,2industry and business, and faculty, mentors, and students at both the graduate and undergraduate levels. The committee acknowledges the invaluable information and opinions received from a variety of sources. We convened more than a half-dozen panels of experts from academe, government, industry, foundations, and other sectors. The panel members are listed in Appendix E. A call for comments to scientists, engineers, administrators, students, and educators across the country drew more than 100 thoughtful replies, many of them reflecting exceptional care; some correspondents even conducted informal surveys within their own institutions. Those responding to the call for comments are listed in Appendix D and their thoughtful responses are provided in Appendix F. In addition, Appendix G summarizes a survey we sent to graduate students asking what information they need to make decisions. The committee also made use of continuing work by the National Research Council's Office of Scientific and Engineering Personnel. 2 There is a lack of adequate information about educational and funding activities at the state level. The states have supported graduate education for many years, and a number of state governments and agencies have initiated innovative ways to broaden graduate education through interactions with industry, government, and community groups.

OCR for page R1
Page vii The production of the report was the result of hard work by the committee as a whole and by the extra effort of the Guidance Group (consisting of Arden Bement, Mary J. Osborn, David Challoner, Alexander Flax, and me), which convened between regular committee meetings. The project was aided by the invaluable help of COSEPUP professional staff: Michael McGeary, study director, who provided research and analytical support, as illustrated in Appendixes B and C and Chapter 2, and drafted major portions of Chapters 3 and 4; Deborah Stine, senior program officer, who managed the committee's outreach efforts and contributed in a major way to Chapter 2; Alan Anderson, consultant/writer, who helped draft and revise the text throughout the project; and Lawrence McCray, executive director of COSEPUP, who oversaw the committee's activity. Wise guidance was provided by Philip M. Smith as a consultant. National Research Council staff members Dimitria Satterwhite, Jeffrey Peck, and Patrick Sevcik ably assisted the project. The committee also thanks its diligent editor, Norman Grossblatt. PHILLIP A. GRIFFITHS Chair Committee on Science, Engineering, and Public Policy

OCR for page R1

OCR for page R1
Page ix CONTENTS   EXECUTIVE SUMMARY 1   FRAMING THE ISSUE 1   A TIME OF CHANGE 2   SUMMARY OF RECOMMENDATIONS 3   MAJOR RELATED ISSUES 8   Is There an Oversupply of PhDs? 8   Foreign Students 9 1 THE CHANGING CONTEXT OF GRADUATE EDUCATION 11 2 THE EMPLOYMENT OF GRADUATE SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS 19 2.1 CURRENT EMPLOYMENT CONDITIONS 19   Employment Trends 21   Unemployment and Delayed Employment 26   Underemployment and Underutilization 28 2.2 EMPLOYMENT TRENDS BY SECTOR 29   Education 31   Government 34   Business and Industry 36 2.3 EMPLOYER PERSPECTIVES 38 2.4 THE CHANGING CONTEXT OF EMPLOYMENT 44

OCR for page R1
Page x 3 THE EDUCATION OF GRADUATE SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS 47 3.1 OVERVIEW 47 3.2 THE MASTER'S EXPERIENCE 49 3.3 THE DOCTORAL EXPERIENCE 49 3.4 TIME TO DEGREE 51 3.5 MECHANISMS OF ASSISTANCE FOR GRADUATE EDUCATION 53 3.6 CAREER INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE 59 3.7 THE GRADUATE EDUCATION OF WOMEN AND MINORITY-GROUP STUDENTS 60 3.8 FOREIGN GRADUATE STUDENTS 62 3.9 POSTDOCTORAL EDUCATION 62 4 DISCUSSION OF MAJOR RELATED ISSUES 65 4.1 THE "RIGHT" NUMBER OF SCIENCE AND ENGINEERING PHDS 65   The Current Unemployment Situation 66   Limitations of Supply-Demand Models for Forecasting Science and Engineering Personnel Needs 67   Conclusion 68 4.2 THE ISSUE OF FOREIGN STUDENTS 69   Support of Foreign Graduate Students 69   Where do Foreign-Citizen PhDs Go? 69   What Are the Effects? 70   Conclusion 71 4.3 TIME TO EMPLOYMENT 72 4.4 INFORMATION AND ANALYSIS NEEDS 73 5 CONCLUSIONS AND RECOMMENDATIONS 75 5.1 NATIONAL OPTIONS 76 5.2 TOWARD GREATER VERSATILITY 77 5.3 TOWARD BETTER CAREER INFORMATION AND GUIDANCE 84 5.4 TOWARD IMPLEMENTATION OF A NATIONAL POLICY 89 5.5 CONCLUSION 91

OCR for page R1
Page xi APPENDIXES A BIOGRAPHICAL INFORMATION ON COMMITTEE MEMBERS 93 B STATISTICS ON GRADUATE EDUCATION OF SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS 97 C EMPLOYMENT TRENDS AMONG SCIENTISTS AND ENGINEERS WITH GRADUATE DEGREES 139 D RESPONDENTS TO CALL FOR COMMENTS 173 E PANELISTS 179 F CALL FOR COMMENTS: SUMMARY OF RESPONSES 183 G SUMMARY OF RESPONSES TO SURVEY ON INFORMATION NEEDS 197 REFERENCES 203

OCR for page R1
Page xii LIST OF FIGURES 1-1: Number of doctorates awarded by US institutions, by broad field, 1958-1993 14 1-2: Trends in citizenship of recipients of doctorates from US institutions, 1983-1993 15 2-1: Growth in employment of doctoral scientists and engineers in the United States, 1973-1991 20 2-2: Scientists and engineers with US PhDs, by employment sector, 1973-1991 22 2-3: Primary work activity of scientists and engineers with PhDs from US universities, 1973-1991 24 2-4: Change in employment sector of scientists and engineers 5-8 years after receipt of US doctorates, 1977 and 1991 25 2-5: Unemployment rates among different occupational and educational groups in the civilian noninstitutional labor force, 1985-1993 27 2-6: Employment sectors of scientists and engineers with US PhDs, by broad field, 1991 30 3-1: Science and engineering graduate student enrollment, by broad field, 1982-1992 48 3-2: Median years to degree for doctorate recipients, by broad field, 1993 52 3-3: Incidence of research assistantships and teaching assistantships among US PhDs, by broad field, 1993 56 3-4: Types of support for academic R&D, 1966-1992 57 3-5: Mix of federal support for academic scientists and engineers, 1966-1992 58 LIST OF TABLES 2-1: Changes in Percentages of Scientists and Engineers Employed in Academe 5-8 Years after Receiving US PhD, by Broad Field, 1977 and 1991 32 2-2: Changes in Percentages of Scientists and Engineers Who Are Civilian Employees of the Federal Government 5-8 Years after Receiving US PhD, by Broad Field, 1977 and 1991 35 2-3: Changes in Percentages of Scientists and Engineers Employed in Business/Industry 5-8 Years after Receiving US PhD, by Broad Field, 1977-1991 37 3-1: Source of Graduate-School Support for Doctorate Recipients, by Broad Field, 1993 54