How much do universities spend on research and development, and what do they spend it on? Answers to these questions can be found through NSF's Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey, the primary source of information on R&D expenditures at higher education institutions in the United States.
In FY 2010, the HERD Survey replaced a previous annual collection, the Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges, which was conducted from FY 1972 through FY 2009. The revamped survey continues to collect information on R&D expenditures by field of research and source of funds, but it also contains new questions about additional funding sources, types of research and expenses, and headcounts of R&D personnel. The revised survey also requests data across all academic disciplines, not just science and engineering disciplines.
The HERD Survey is an annual census of all known eligible universities that expended at least $150,000 in separately budgeted R&D in the fiscal year. In FY 2011, 96% of eligible institutions responded to the survey (912 of 945 institutions).
Stats at a Glance
- University spending on R&D in all fields continued to increase between FY 2010 and FY 2011, rising 6.3% from $61.2 billion to $65.1 billion.
- Much of the increase in university spending on R&D came from funding from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 ($4.2 billion in FY 2011).
- Total federal funding for higher education R&D rose to $40.8 billion in FY 2011 (62.6% of the $65.1 billion total).
- Most of the university spending on R&D went toward the broad field of life sciences, which grew 6.6% to $37.2 billion in FY 2011. Engineering was the next largest broad field, which increased 7.7% to $10.0 billion.
- Of the $65.1 billion spent by universities on R&D, 35.5% ($23.1 billion) was spent within medical schools.
- Duke University reported the largest amount of medical school R&D in FY 2011 ($831 million), followed by the University of California, San Francisco ($785 million) and Johns Hopkins University ($646 million).
More data from the 2011 HERD Survey are available in Universities Report Highest-Ever R&D Spending of $65 Billion in FY 2011 (http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf13305/).