Science & Engineering | News

Count of First-Time Science and Engineering Graduate Students Still Climbing

A leading indicator portends good news for those seeking to grow the count of science and engineering experts in the United States, even though the indicator is two years old. A new report out of the National Science Foundation (NSF) shows that in 2008 there were more students enrolled in graduate programs for these subjects than in the previous year. Overall enrollment grew 2.5 percent over 2007, and first-time full-time enrollments actually increased by nearly 8 percent.

NSF's Division of Science Resources Statistics released the data in a report on the agency's Web site. The survey of graduate students and postdoctorates in science and engineering was co-sponsored by NSF and the National Institutes of Health (NIH).

The number of students entering these programs for the first time has been increasing for the last 10 years, with the exception of a one-year decline from 2003 to 2004.

The count of new full-time grad students--a record 108,819--was the largest in the history of the survey, which began in 1973. The report's authors observed also that this was the first year since 2003 when enrollment in the engineering fields grew faster among U.S. citizens and permanent residents than among foreign students on temporary visas. For the latter segment, growth is slightly stronger among women than men.

The total count of enrollment in science and engineering graduate programs was 529,275 in 2008.

About the Author

Dian Schaffhauser is a writer who covers technology and business for a number of publications. Contact her at dian@dischaffhauser.com.

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