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Chapter 6. After the Doctorate



  • Postgraduation Status. The percentage of new Ph.D.s with definite plans (commitments) following graduation declined from about 77 percent in 1970–74 to 68 percent in 1995–99.

  • Location of Postgraduation Commitments. Historically, about 9 in 10 Ph.D.s with definite postgraduation plans have remained in the United States, a stay rate that has changed little over the years. Differences in stay rates among major fields of study reflect the constituent proportion of foreign nationals, particularly temporary residents, in major fields.

  • Postgraduation Study Commitments in the United States. The percentage of Ph.D.s with definite plans to remain in the United States to pursue further study nearly doubled between the early 1970s and the late 1990s, reaching about 27 percent in the latter period.

    The percentage of Ph.D.s with study commitments who planned to be in academic settings dropped from about 82 percent in the early 1970s to less than 78 percent by 1995–96.

  • Postgraduation Employment Commitments in the United States. In 1995–99 about 70 percent of new Ph.D.s reported having a postgraduate commitment to employment in the United States, a proportion down from 85 percent in 1970–74.

    Employment Sectors. Academic job commitments among new Ph.D.s declined from about 67 percent in the early 1970s to about 50 percent by the end of that decade, a mark that remained steady for the remainder of the century.

    The percentage of Ph.D.s going into industry more than doubled, from 12 percent in the early 1970s to 27 percent in the late 1990s.

    Primary Work Activities. Only 38 percent of Ph.D.s in 1995–99, compared with 57 percent in 1970–74, expected to spend most of their time teaching. Nearly 31 percent of Ph.D.s in the late 1990s planned to be engaged mostly in R&D, up from 23 percent in the early 1970s.

    Interstate Migration. Ph.D.s with definite postgraduation commitments increasingly stayed in the same state as their doctoral institution, 47 percent in 1995–99, up from 37 percent in 1970–74.


At graduation, Ph.D.s are on the threshold of a new phase in their careers. Some continue their studies as postdoctoral fellows or research associates. Others enter employment in academe, industry, government, or other sector or continue in or return to jobs they held before graduation. Some foreign nationals stay in the United States, whereas others return to their native country or have other destinations abroad. All of these plans and intentions vary greatly in their degree of certainty, ranging from signed contracts to pending negotiations.

Since the late 1960s the SED has requested data on Ph.D.s' plans for the period immediately following graduation. This information reveals how many new Ph.D.s have firm commitments for jobs or postdoctoral study appointments. From those who plan to work, information is requested about the employment sector—academe, industry, nonprofit, government, or other. Information is also requested about how these Ph.D.s plan to spend most of their time on the job—in research and development, teaching, administration, or professional services. Ph.D.s who are pursuing further study are asked about their major source of financial support (e.g., government, university), their financial support mechanism (e.g., postdoctoral fellowship or research associateship), and their study setting (e.g., university, government, or industrial laboratory). From information about new Ph.D.s' reported destinations after receipt of the doctorate, it is possible also to examine their migration patterns.

This chapter examines reports from Ph.D.s who had definite plans for work or study at the time they completed the SED, usually during the final weeks of their doctoral education. The percentages of foreign citizens from the five world regions (Africa, Americas, Asia, Australasia/Pacific, Europe) and various countries who planned to stay in the United States after earning the doctorate (stay rate) are also examined. Concentrating on Ph.D.s with definite plans allows more reliable comparisons across time. Ph.D.s who had signed a contract or otherwise made a firm commitment for work or study by the time they completed the survey were considered to have definite plans at the time of graduation. Those negotiating with one or more organizations and those still seeking a position with no specific prospects at the time they completed the survey were considered not to have definite plans. The terms "definite plans" and "commitments" are used interchangeably in this chapter. The data on postgraduation plans are presented for 5-year periods from 1970 to 1999.

Past trends may not necessarily be good predictors of the future. The first years of the 21st century differ in many ways from the 1990s, for example, in terms of U.S. and global economic conditions. Of potentially great importance is the influence that the war on terrorism may have on doctoral education in the United States in the years to come and on career options for Ph.D.s both here and abroad.

Postgraduation Status

During the last three decades of the 20th century, there was a gradual decline in the proportion of new Ph.D.s with definite plans at graduation (figure 6-1 Figure.). About three-fourths (77 percent) of all new Ph.D.s in 1970–74 reported commitments. By 1995–99, that proportion had dropped to about two-thirds (68 percent).

Overall, the level of postgraduation commitments was about the same for S&E and non-S&E Ph.D.s—76 percent in 1970–74 and 68 percent in 1995–99 (figure 6-2 Figure.). Major fields of study with the highest commitment levels in 1995–99 were education (74 percent), professional and other fields (74 percent), biological sciences (73 percent), health sciences (71 percent), and physical sciences (70 percent). Humanities Ph.D.s were the least likely to have definite plans at graduation in 1995–99 (58 percent), followed by agricultural sciences Ph.D.s (62 percent).

The gap between men and women in terms of definite postgraduation plans closed between 1970–74 and 1995–99. The percentage of men who had definite postgraduation plans declined 10 percentage points in that period, whereas the percentage of women with definite plans remained virtually unchanged. By century's end, about 68 percent of each group had definite plans at graduation (table 6-1 Table.).

The decline among men accounted for the overall change in postgraduation commitments between 1970–74 and 1995–99, a trend influenced by the large number of foreign nationals receiving doctorates in the 1980s and 1990s. About four in five non-U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s were men, and foreign nationals are less likely than U.S. citizens to have definite plans at graduation, contributing to the decrease in postgraduate commitments among men overall. About 63 percent of temporary residents and 59 percent of permanent residents who received doctorates in 1995–99 reported commitments for work or study after graduation, compared with 71 percent of U.S. citizens.

Because permanent residents are likely to become long-term members of the U.S. labor force, they are grouped with U.S. citizens in the racial/ethnic analyses presented in this chapter. Most analyses of race/ethnicity in the earlier chapters focused only on U.S. citizens.1 Within the combined group of U.S. citizens and permanent residents, every racial/ethnic group experienced decreases in postgraduation commitments during the last quarter century (figure 6-3 Figure.). White Ph.D.s had the highest level of commitments (more than 70 percent in both 1975–79 and 1995–99), followed by Hispanics, American Indians/Alaskan Natives, blacks, and Asians/Pacific Islanders. The last group was the only one in which less than two-thirds of Ph.D.s reported commitments—a reflection of the large concentration of permanent residents (the citizenship group with the lowest commitment rates) among Asians/Pacific Islanders.

Location of Postgraduation Commitments

About 90 percent of Ph.D.s with definite postgraduation plans indicated they would remain in the United States after graduation, a stay rate that has changed little over the years (figure 6-4 Figure.). What has changed is the distribution of postgraduation plans between work and study. Increasingly, new Ph.D.s plan to continue their studies with postdoctoral appointments. In 1970–74, 77 percent of all Ph.D.s with commitments intended to stay in the United States for a job, compared with about 14 percent who planned to pursue further study in U.S. institutions; the remainder had commitments abroad. By 1995–99 the percentage of Ph.D.s with study commitments in the United States had nearly doubled, to about 27 percent, whereas the percentage with job commitments had decreased to about 63 percent.

The stay rates by field show relatively little variation over the years. The rate for social sciences Ph.D.s declined about 6 percentage points between 1970–74 and 1995–99, the largest decrease of any field (figure 6-5 Figure.). The largest increase, nearly 3 percentage points, was among biological sciences Ph.D.s.

The differences among fields reflect the varying concentrations of U.S. and non-U.S. citizens. Citizenship status is the primary factor related to whether a doctorate recipient remains in the United States after graduation. From the early 1970s to the late 1990s, nearly all U.S. citizens had definite plans to stay in this country, as did about 90 percent of permanent residents who had commitments at graduation (figure 6-6 Figure.). Most had plans for work rather than for further study.

The stay rate of temporary resident Ph.D.s is lower but has increased during the last 30 years of the century, from less than one-third in 1970–74 to nearly two-thirds in 1995–99. During this time, the number of temporary resident Ph.D.s with definite plans to stay in the United States after graduation increased nearly sixfold—from 3,068 to 17,150 (figure 6-7 Figure.). These Ph.D.s were about evenly divided between work and study commitments.

The stay rate of foreign national Ph.D.s from each of the five world regions rose substantially between the 1970–74 and 1995–99 periods (figure 6-8 Figure.). In 1970–74 Asia and Europe were the only regions that had a majority of citizens with definite plans to stay in the United States after earning a U.S. doctorate. By the late 1990s, a majority of Ph.D.s from every region planned to remain in the United States—about 75 percent of Asians and Europeans and 51 to 58 percent of citizens of other regions. Between 1970–74 and 1995–99 the number of Asian-citizen Ph.D.s with postgraduation plans to stay in the United States quadrupled, from 4,078 to 17,233 (table 6-2 Table.).

A striking change has occurred over the years in the visa status of non-U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s with commitments in the United States. Permanent residents made up nearly 59 percent of all non-U.S. citizens in 1970–74 who had definite plans to stay after graduation. By the late 1990s, temporary residents with U.S. commitments outnumbered permanent residents 2 to 1, both overall and among Ph.D.s from each world region.

In recent years more Ph.D.s from China and India than from any other country remained in the United States after graduation (figure 6-9 Figure.). During the 1995–99 period, 7,548 Chinese citizens intended to stay (96 percent of all Chinese Ph.D.s with definite plans). Russia is noteworthy because 91 percent of its citizens planned to remain in the United States after receiving their doctorates.

Because these numbers and percentages represent only those non-U.S. citizens who reported definite plans to stay in the United States after graduation, estimates may be conservative. The restriction to definite plans is necessary when examining long-term trends because until 1990, location was captured in the survey item on postdoctoral affiliation, which was generally completed by only those Ph.D.s with definite plans.

Beginning in the 1990s doctorate recipients were asked to report location separately, resulting in more complete data on the intended locations of new Ph.D.s. Data from the 1990s show that a substantial number of non-U.S. citizens who did not report commitments did report intentions to remain in the United States.2

Kinds of Postgraduation Commitments in the United States

The postgraduation commitments of Ph.D.s who had definite plans to remain in the United States show a gradual shift toward further study. By the late 1990s about 27 percent of new Ph.D.s who intended to remain in the United States had study commitments, nearly double the percentage in the early 1970s. In contrast, the percentage of Ph.D.s with employment commitments in the United States dropped throughout the last quarter of the century, even though the number with employment commitments rose in the 1990s (figure 6-10 Figure.). This reversal reflects both the growth in doctorate production during this period and the abundance of technology-related jobs in the 1990s.

Postgraduation Study Commitments

Although the trend toward further study is evident in all major fields, Ph.D.s in S&E fields are more likely than those in non-S&E fields to undertake such study (figure 6-11 Figure.). About 43 percent (31,240) of all S&E Ph.D.s graduating in 1995–99 with U.S. commitments reported plans for further study, up from 25 percent (14,659) in 1970–74. Further study is most prevalent in biological sciences. Of the biological sciences Ph.D.s graduating in 1995–99 with U.S. postgraduation commitments, 79 percent (13,903) had plans for postdoctoral study, up from 54 percent (6,100) in the 1970–74 period. The proportions of new Ph.D.s undertaking postdoctoral study in the combined field of physics and astronomy and in chemistry were also high, each being about 60 percent in 1995–99.

The proportions of U.S. citizens and permanent residents reporting postgraduation study commitments in the United States rose for each racial/ethnic group between 1975–79 and 1995–99. Demographic differences among Ph.D.s with postgraduation study commitments generally reflect the field concentrations of individual groups. The largest proportions of Ph.D.s planning postdoctoral study are in those demographic groups that have the highest concentrations in biological and physical sciences, with the proportion for Asians and Pacific Islanders greatest in both time periods (figure 6-12 Figure.).

Financial Support Mechanisms

Fellowships are the main support mechanism for Ph.D.s undertaking postdoctoral study (figure 6-13 Figure.). The proportion of Ph.D.s supported by fellowships rose from 48 percent in 1970–74 to 53 percent in 1995–99. The citizenship status of Ph.D.s affects their eligibility for the kinds of financial support available for postdoctoral study. Temporary residents, who are ineligible for many postdoctoral fellowships funded by the U.S. government, are more likely to receive their support from research associateships than from other forms of support (figure 6-14 Figure.).

Sources of Financial Support

Most funding for postdoctoral study comes from the U.S. government and from academic institutions. Although government sources were reported most often as a source of support, the share of postgraduation study commitments supported by government sources declined 13 percentage points between 1975–79 and 1995–99. The share supported by academic institutions increased 10 percentage points in the same period (figure 6-15 Figure.). In both 1975–79 and 1995–99, private foundations and nonprofit organizations were the main sources of support for about 10 percent and 3 percent of new Ph.D.s, respectively.

Although government support was the primary mechanism for more than half of postgraduation study commitments for several fields in 1975–79, the only field in which the government supported a majority of new Ph.D.s entering postdoctoral study in 1995–99 was earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences (figure 6-16 Figure.).

Study Settings

In both 1970–74 and 1995–96, more than three-fourths of new Ph.D.s with postdoctoral appointments found those positions at universities or colleges (figure 6-17 Figure.).3 The percentage of new Ph.D.s with study commitments who planned to be in academic settings declined, however, from 82 percent of the 1970–74 cohort to 78 percent of the 1995–96 cohort. This decline reflects a shift over this period, as Ph.D.s increasingly accepted postdoctoral appointments at U.S. government facilities, industries, and nonprofit organizations.

Postgraduation Employment Commitments

Although the percentage of new Ph.D.s with study commitments increased during the last three decades of the century, the great majority of Ph.D.s with definite postgraduation plans in the United States had employment commitments. Even after steady declines since 1970–74, when this information was first collected, 70 percent of Ph.D.s who graduated in 1995–99 with employment commitments in the United States either had new jobs or returned to jobs held before graduation (figure 6-18 Figure.).

The increase in the proportion of Ph.D.s reporting postgraduation study commitments during the last 30 years accompanied a decline in the proportion of both U.S. citizen and permanent resident Ph.D.s who reported work plans. In 1970–74, 86 percent of U.S. citizens and 72 percent of permanent residents had job commitments after graduation. At the end of the century, 75 percent of U.S. citizens and 59 percent of permanent residents reported work commitments. Work commitments among temporary residents, however, changed little except for a spike in the early 1980s. In most periods about 50 percent of temporary residents with definite plans to stay in the United States had jobs. Work commitments also spiked among permanent residents in the early 1980s, after which the proportion reporting job commitments declined. Among U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s, the proportion reporting work commitments decreased steadily through the end of the century.

Employment Sectors

Earning a doctorate during the first 70 years of the 20th century typically assured the graduate of a position in academe. By the early 1970s, however, the academic labor market was becoming saturated with Ph.D. faculty. Moreover, growth in enrollments did not continue at the rates of the 1960s, when the entry of the baby boomers caused enrollments of undergraduate students to increase rapidly. Nearly 67 percent of new Ph.D.s who graduated with work commitments in 1970–74 were hired into academic positions. By the early 1980s, academic job commitments among new Ph.D.s had declined to about 50 percent, and the percentage remained close to this mark to the end of the century (46 percent in 4-year institutions and 4 percent in 2-year institutions in the 1995–99 period). The number of new Ph.D.s with academic positions also fell, from 57,802 in 1970–74 to 38,807 in 1995–99, although the numbers were higher in the 1990s than in the 1980s (figure 6-19 Figure.).

The decrease in the proportion of new Ph.D.s with job commitments in academe was evident in all major fields (table 6-3 Table.). In 1995–99 about 37 percent of Ph.D.s with degrees in S&E fields and work commitments in the United States found jobs in academe, a substantial decrease from the almost 58 percent who did so in 1970–74. Compared with S&E Ph.D.s, percentages of non-S&E Ph.D.s who found work in academe were higher, although there was a decline for this group as well. About 63 percent of non-S&E Ph.D.s in the late 1990s had academic commitments, down from approximately 76 percent in the early 1970s.

Humanities Ph.D.s had the highest rate of academic employment—83 percent in 1995–99—but lower than the 94 percent level in 1970–74. Three-fourths of Ph.D.s in professional and other fields and two-thirds of Ph.D.s in social sciences also obtained academic positions in the late 1990s. Historically, engineering and physical science Ph.D.s have been the least likely to take jobs in academe after graduation. About 36 percent of physical scientists took academic jobs in the early 1970s; by the late 1990s, the figure was down to about 21 percent. Academic commitments were even less common among engineering Ph.D.s—27 percent in 1970–74 and 14 percent in 1995–99.

During the last 25 years of the century, there was a dramatic change in academic commitments among Ph.D.s in mathematics and computer sciences. (These two fields are combined for comparison of the 1970–74 and 1995–99 periods; computer sciences did not become a separate field on the SED until the late 1970s.) This combined field ranked fourth in academic job commitments among Ph.D.s graduating in 1970–74, about 80 percent of whom took jobs in academe. By 1995–99 only 47 percent of Ph.D.s in the combined field were hired into academe. This change reflects the growth of computer technology industries in the last decade of the 20th century.

Government was the only sector other than academe to show decreasing employment of new Ph.D.s, both in percentage and in number. A trend away from the academic and government sectors and toward employment commitments in industries and businesses (including self-employment) and "other" sectors (elementary and secondary schools, nonprofit organizations) characterized all demographic groups (figure 6-20 Figure.). In 1995–99 female Ph.D.s (57 percent) were still more likely than male Ph.D.s (44 percent) to go into academe, but the level of academic commitments was about 21 percentage points lower for both groups than it was in 1970–74.

The relatively small differences in the proportions of academic appointments among the three citizenship groups in the early 1970s had widened by the late 1990s. In the period 1970–74 about two-thirds of U.S. citizens were hired into academe, with hires of temporary residents and permanent residents trailing by only 2 and 6 percentage points, respectively. In 1995–99 a slim majority of U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s obtained academic appointments, compared with about two-fifths of permanent residents and about one-third of temporary residents. The size of the disparity between U.S. citizens and foreign nationals is fairly recent. Academic commitment levels for the three citizenship groups remained relatively close—above 50 percent—into the mid-1990s. In fact, in the three 5-year periods from 1980 to 1994, the percentages of temporary residents going into academe were larger than those of other citizenship groups of new Ph.D.s.

The percentage of new Ph.D.s who reported having commitments to jobs in industries and businesses (including self-employment) immediately after graduation more than doubled, from about 12 to 27 percent, between the periods 1970–74 and 1995–99 (table 6-3 Table., figure 6-20 Figure.). The number of Ph.D.s hired by industry also increased, from 10,139 to 18,762. None of the other sectors accounted for more than one-tenth of Ph.D.s' job commitments in either period.

By 1995–99, industry (including self-employment) was the largest employer of S&E Ph.D.s overall (44 percent of those with U.S. work commitments) and of Ph.D.s in four S&E subfields: engineering (73 percent); physical sciences (68 percent); agricultural sciences (42 percent); and earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences (38 percent). Although job commitments in academe were more numerous among Ph.D.s in other S&E fields, the role of industry is still noteworthy. Industry's share of Ph.D.s' work commitments in these other fields ranged from 14 percent (social sciences) to 45 percent (the combined field of mathematics and computer sciences).

The mid-1990s brought a surge of industrial employment among both permanent and temporary residents. This sudden change may reflect the concentrations of non-U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s in engineering and computer sciences, fields that were particularly linked to the very large number of new technology jobs that were created during the 1990s. Although U.S.-citizen Ph.D.s were increasingly drawn into industry (including self-employment), job commitments in this sector were proportionally higher among non-U.S. citizens. In 1995–99 the share of postgraduation work commitments to industry was 50 percent among permanent residents and 60 percent among temporary residents, compared with 21 percent among U.S. citizens.

Decreasing academic employment and increasing employment in other sectors appeared as a pattern also among racial/ethnic groups of U.S. citizens and permanent residents (figure 6-21 Figure.). The distribution across employment sectors for racial/ethnic groups reflects the different field concentrations of these groups. In both the 1970–74 and 1995–99 periods, S&E Ph.D.s were more likely than non-S&E Ph.D.s to obtain jobs in industry (table 6-3 Table.). Historically, Asians/Pacific Islanders and whites have had the greatest concentrations in S&E fields and also have had the largest percentages of new Ph.D.s with postgraduation commitments in industry. Black and American Indian/Alaskan Native Ph.D.s have been more concentrated in social sciences, education, and other non-S&E fields, which is reflected in their substantial percentages in the cluster of other sectors, namely elementary and secondary schools and nonprofit organizations.

Primary Work Activities

At the end of the 20th century, teaching was still the most common postgraduation work activity of Ph.D.s with job commitments in the United States, but the percentage was far smaller than it had been 30 years earlier (figure 6-22 Figure.). Nearly 57 percent of new Ph.D.s with work commitments in 1970–74 intended to spend most of their time teaching, compared with about 38 percent in 1995–99. At the same time, research and development (R&D) increased as a primary work activity. In 1995–99, 31 percent of Ph.D.s with job commitments reported R&D as their primary work activity, up from 23 percent in 1970–74. This trend parallels the trend in academic and industrial employment. Teaching declined as commitments in academe fell, and R&D rose along with commitments in industry. In addition, Ph.D.s who graduated in 1995–99 were more likely to work in administration and professional services than Ph.D.s who graduated in 1970–74.

Interstate Migration after Graduation

Increasing proportions of Ph.D.s with definite work commitments had postgraduation employment commitments in the state where the doctorate was granted: 47 percent in 1995–99, up from 37 percent in 1970–74 (figure 6-23 Figure.).4 In 1970–74 education was the only doctoral field in which a majority of Ph.D.s remained to work in the state where they received their doctorates. In-state job commitments in the other major fields ranged from one-fourth of Ph.D.s in agricultural sciences to two-fifths of Ph.D.s in psychology. By 1995–99, however, a majority of Ph.D.s in four fields had work commitments in their doctoral state: a slim majority in the fields of psychology, biological sciences, and health sciences, and more than a two-thirds majority in education. Many of the graduates in these fields, especially in education, planned to continue in positions they held while studying for the doctorate.

States make substantial investments in their colleges and universities, so it benefits states to retain as many of their graduates as can be absorbed into the workforce. During the last three decades of the 20th century, in nearly all states, increasing percentages of Ph.D.s who had definite work commitments reported that they were remaining in the state where they received their doctorate (table 6-4 Table.). In 1995–99, 17 states retained 50 percent or more of their Ph.D. graduates, and 25 states retained 40 to 49 percent. In contrast, only Puerto Rico (93 percent) and California (55 percent) retained a majority of their doctoral graduates in the 1970–74 period.

Between 1970–74 and 1995–99, only in Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, and Pennsylvania did the proportions of Ph.D.s who remained after earning a doctorate decline. Although the stay rate was higher for Puerto Rico than for any other state in both 1970–74 and 1995–99, the rate declined 17 percentage points between the two periods. Ph.D. retention in most other states increased dramatically. Rates of retention among Ph.D.s with definite commitments about doubled between 1970–74 and 1995–99 in Idaho, Montana, Nevada, North Dakota, Rhode Island, and Vermont, and more than tripled in New Hampshire.

Another way of viewing Ph.D. migration is to consider states that are destinations of Ph.D.s who migrate. In the 1995–99 period the top four destinations of Ph.D.s with definite job commitments outside the state where the doctorate was received were the same as the top four destinations overall (that is, including Ph.D.s who stayed in their doctoral state) (figures 6-24 Figure., 6-26 Figure.).

California and New York, which have long been the leading producers of Ph.D.s, also have long been the most popular destinations of Ph.D.s with job commitments (figures 6-25 Figure., 6-26 Figure.). In both 1970–74 and 1995–99 nearly one-fifth of all Ph.D.s with U.S. work commitments reported job locations in California or New York. Some earned their degrees in those states; some intended to cross state lines to accept employment in those states. The 11 top destinations of Ph.D.s with work commitments were the same in 1970–74 and 1995–99, although with some differences in rank.

The top destinations of Ph.D.s in each major doctoral field vary somewhat across states. In table 6-5 Table. the overall ranking across all fields is given for each state that placed among the top five in one or more fields. These rankings include all Ph.D.s with work commitments in the United States—those who remained in the state where they earned their doctorate as well as those who left. The three states ranking highest as destinations of Ph.D.s—California, New York, and Texas—drew high percentages of Ph.D.s in most fields. Eleven other states ranked in the top five destinations for at least one major field.

Three key locations in a Ph.D.'s educational career are the states where the Ph.D.'s high school education took place, where the Ph.D.'s doctoral education took place, and where the Ph.D. is employed after graduation. Comparisons of these states for the two-thirds of Ph.D.s with U.S. work commitments provide a more complete picture of migration patterns than can be gleaned from comparisons that consider only the state where the doctorate was received and the state where the Ph.D. is employed postgraduation (figure 6-27 Figure.). Among Ph.D.s graduating in 1995–99, nearly half (49 percent) of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who received high school diplomas in the United States and who also reported postdoctoral work commitments in the United States planned to stay in the state where they received the doctorate, compared with 37 percent in 1970–74. About half of these individuals received their high school education in the same state. This means that about one-fourth of all U.S.-citizen and permanent resident Ph.D.s with U.S. work commitments in the 1995–99 period reported the same state for their high school, doctoral institution, and first postgraduation job. In the 1970–74 period, 18 percent of Ph.D.s reported the same state for these three milestones.

The expansion of doctoral education into every state during the 20th century could explain the increasing geographic stability among Ph.D.s. Many students no longer have to travel out of state to pursue a graduate education, including doctoral study, in their chosen field. Moreover, as state economies become more diverse, it is likely that new Ph.D.s find more job opportunities in the state where they were raised and where they received most, and perhaps all, of their education.


1   Data on race/ethnicity are available for the period 1975–99.

2   Appendix table C-1 compares 1995–99 aggregate data for non-U.S. citizens who reported definite postgraduation plans in the United States (the population shown in table 6-2 Table. and figures 6-8 Figure. and figure 6-9 Figure.) with the corresponding data for all non-U.S. citizens who reported location, including those who did not report definite plans. The table provides comparisons for each of the 5 world regions and for the 10 leading country origins of Ph.D.s.

3   The most recent data covering all possible study settings are for 1995 and 1996.

4   In this section, "state" includes the District of Columbia and Puerto Rico.


Front Matter

Chapter 1. Introduction

Chapter 2. Historical Background

Chapter 3. Field Choices and Demographic Characteristics of Doctorate Recipients

Chapter 4. Path to the Doctorate

Chapter 5. Baccalaureate and Doctoral Institutions

Chapter 6. After the Doctorate

Appendix A. Detailed Doctoral Fields and Demographic Characteristics of Ph.D.s

Appendix B. Top 50 Baccalaureate and Doctoral Institutions and Doctorate Production by State

Appendix C. Technical Notes


List of Tables

List of Figures

Figure Reference Tables (web only)

Supplemental Tables (web only)


Susan  T. Hill,
Project Officer
Human Resources Statistics Program
(703) 292-7790
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U.S. Doctorates in the 20th Century | NSF 06-319 | October 2006

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