Science and Engineering Doctoral Degrees Worldwide

Posted on August 10, 2005  Comments (1)

Lagging Engineer Degrees a Crisis by Kevin Hall:

Relative to the sizes of their populations, Asian nations are graduating five times as many undergraduate students in engineering as the United States. A study by Engineering Trends determined that the United States ranks 16th per capita in the number of doctoral graduates and 25th in engineering undergraduates per million citizens.

U.S. universities continue awarding more doctoral degrees in engineering than universities anywhere else. But the American Association of Engineering Societies said foreign nationals received 58 percent of the U.S. doctoral degrees in engineering last year: 3,766 degrees out of 6,504. A decade earlier, they accounted for less than half.

I doubt that US universities are awarding more doctoral degrees than others are. Even if that is true I doubt it will last for even 5 more years. You might measure this in various ways including: absolute number of doctoral degrees awarded or using a per capita number. I believe several European countries are ahead today on a per capita basis. On an absolute basis I would be surprised if China or India isn’t already ahead. But if neither is, that will not true for long. I tried to find some good data online and wasn’t able to find anything certain in the time I took. Lost Dominance in Ph.D. Production sites a National Bureau of Economic Research report:

Experts have been warning for a few years now that the United States is at risk of losing its lead position in the education of science and engineering Ph.D.’s. A new report from the National Bureau of Economic Research shows just how vulnerable that position is.

Indeed, the report finds that if China continues to expand science and engineering programs at its current pace (which may not be possible), it would overtake the United States in producing Ph.D.’s in those fields as early as 2010.

Detailed statistics are available in an NSF report on science and engineering doctoral degrees granted in the United States.

The Brain Drain by Debra W. Stewart, The Boston Globe

Thirty years ago the United States annually produced the vast majority of the world’s doctoral degrees. But in 1999, Europe surpassed US production of PhDs in science and engineering by more than 2,000 scholars. Asia, too, is rapidly closing its gap in doctoral production, with the governments of China, India, and Korea heavily investing in capacity at the graduate level.

Security, Innovation, and Human Capital in the Global Interest by Dr. Shirley Ann Jackson, President, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

It may come as a surprise that, in the most recent year for which data is available (2000), out of 2.8 million first university degrees in science and engineering granted worldwide, only 400,000 were granted in the U.S.A. while European universities granted 830,000 and 1.2 million were earned by Asian students in Asian universities.

The countries which have been primary sources for the United States of science and engineering talent China, India, Taiwan, South Korea are making a concerted effort to educate more of their own at home, and to fund more research within their borders. Between 1986 and 1999, the number of science and engineering doctorates granted increased 400 percent in South Korea, 500 percent in Taiwan, and 5,400 percent (that is correct 5,400 percent) in China.

One Response to “Science and Engineering Doctoral Degrees Worldwide”

  1. Anonymous
    February 5th, 2017 @ 7:34 am

    Here in Spain to get Ph. D. is pretty difficult but the real problem is to get it recognized in other countries.

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