Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System

SESTAT is the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System. This integrated data system is a unique source of longitudinal information on the education and employment of the college-educated U.S. science and engineering workforce. These data are collected through biennial surveys:

The NSCG is the core of SESTAT and covers the entire college graduate population residing in the United States. It provides information on individuals educated or employed in S&E fields as well as those educated or employed in non-S&E fields. The SDR further supplements SESTAT with the stock and inflow of U.S.-degreed doctoral level scientists and engineers. Through 2010, NSRCG supplemented SESTAT with the inflow of U.S.- degreed bachelor's- and master's- level scientists and engineers. Beginning in 2013, the NSCG began capturing this population and eliminated the need for a separate survey for this population. Learn about the redesign of SESTAT.

SESTAT data are available for download or through the SESTAT Data Tool, which allows users to generate their own data tables.

New Releases

SESTAT is a comprehensive and integrated system of information about the employment, educational, and demographic characteristics of scientists and engineers in the United States. It covers those with a bachelor's degree or higher who either work in or are educated in science or engineering, although some data on individuals who are not scientists or engineers are also included.

SESTAT Frequently Asked Questions

What is SESTAT?

SESTAT is the Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System.

It is composed of information about the employment, educational, and demographic characteristics of scientists and engineers in the United States from three demographic surveys sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF): the National Survey of College Graduates, the National Survey of Recent College Graduates (discontinued after 2010), and the Survey of Doctorate Recipients.

SESTAT was created by NSF to provide data for policy analysis and general research. Data are available for download as public-use files or through the SESTAT Data Tool, which allows users to generate custom data tables.

What types of data are available?

Labor Force Information

For the employed
  • Primary job and salary during reference week
  • Type of employer and job
  • Reasons for changing employer or job (if primary job during reference week is different from current job)
  • Full-time or part-time status, including reasons for part-time employment
  • Previous retirement (if any)
  • Type of employer: educational institution (by type), private for profit, private not for profit, or government
  • Self-employment
  • Supervisory responsibility, including number of employees typically supervised directly and through subordinates
  • Relationship between work and education (highest degree), including reasons for employment outside the degree field
  • Primary and secondary work activities
  • Licensing or certification held, if required or recommended
  • U.S. government funding for work, including supporting agencies or departments
  • Second job, including occupation, salary, and relationship between work and education
For the unemployed and those not in the labor force
  • Reasons for not working during the reference week
  • Date last worked
  • Job last worked

Professional Activities

  • Membership in professional societies and associations


  • First bachelor’s degree and two most recent degrees: level, degree field (major and minor), date degree was awarded
  • Earlier education: date high school diploma and Associate’s degree was awarded (if applicable)
  • Continuing education: post-degree college courses, reasons for taking courses, field of study, and employer financing
  • Work-related training: types of work-related training and reasons for training activities

Other Information

Family related
  • Marital status
  • Spouse's employment status; if spouse is working full-time or part-time, technical expertise required on job
  • Children living at home (and ages)
  • Parents' educational attainment
  • Citizenship status
  • Age
  • Race and ethnicity
  • Sex
  • Disability or functional limitations
  • Country of birth

How is the confidentiality of the data preserved?

The National Science Foundation pledges confidentiality to each survey respondent. Data collected are subject to the provisions of the Confidentiality Information Protection and Statistical Efficiency Act of 2002. SESTAT protects respondent confidentiality through a variety of means. Not all data collected in SESTAT are available in public-use formats.

Who is included in the definition of "scientist" and "engineer" for SESTAT?

In SESTAT, scientists and engineers are defined as either those who received a college degree (bachelor's or higher) in a science or engineering (S&E) or S&E-related field or those who work as a scientist or engineer or in an S&E-related occupation and have a bachelor's degree or higher in any field. Examples of degree fields and occupations are listed below.

Degree Fields

  • Computer and math sciences
  • Biological, agricultural, and environmental life sciences
  • Physical sciences
    • Physics, chemistry, geosciences
  • Social Sciences
    • Psychology, economics, political science
  • Engineering
S&E related
  • Health
    • Medicine, audiology, nursing, physical therapy
  • Science and math teacher education
  • Technology and technical fields
    • Engineering technology
  • Other S&E-related fields
    • Actuarial science, architectural or environmental design
  • Management, administration, sales, marketing
  • Education (except science and math teacher education)
  • Social services
    • Religion, theology, social work
  • Arts and humanities
    • Visual and performing arts, history
  • Other non-S&E fields
    • Law, journalism


  • Computer and math scientists
  • Biological, agricultural, and environmental life scientists
  • Physical scientists
    • Physicist, chemists, geologists
  • Social scientists
    • Psychologists, economists, sociologists
  • Engineers
  • Postsecondary teachers in S&E fields
S&E related
  • Health care workers
    • Physicians, audiologists, nurses
  • S&E managers
    • Engineering managers, natural and social science managers
  • S&E precollege teachers
    • Science teachers, math teachers
  • Technologists and technicians in S&E
  • Other S&E-related occupations
    • Actuaries, architects
  • Non-S&E managers
    • Education administrators, top-level executives
  • Management-related occupations
    • Accountants, financial specialists
  • Non-S&E precollege and postsecondary teachers
  • Social services occupations
  • Arts and humanities occupations
  • Other non-S&E occupations
    • Lawyers, laborers

Where can I find the survey instruments?

The SESTAT survey questionnaires are available at

Where can I find tables containing SESTAT data and other scientist and engineer labor force data?

For tables. see publications in the series Characteristics of Scientists and Engineers with U.S. Doctorates (, Characteristics of Recent College Graduates (, and Characteristics of Scientists and Engineers in the U.S. (

What can I do with the SESTAT Data Tool?

The SESTAT Data Tool gives users the ability to generate customized data tables and view technical documentation.

How do I access the SESTAT Data Tool?

The SESTAT Data Tool is available at

Where can I find tutorials on the SESTAT data and the SESTAT data tool?

Tutorials are available at the Association for Institutional Research website ( The "SESTAT Virtual Tour" tutorial introduces the elements of SESTAT, including the surveys involved, publications and other products available, and the SESTAT Data Tool. The "SESTAT Data Tool" tutorial provides instructions for logging on and assistance in using the built in Help features, table generation, and the public use data.

What is the suggested citation for SESTAT data?

National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Scientists and Engineers Statistical Data System (SESTAT), [year]. Available at

How do I contact SESTAT staff?

General Inquiries

Flora Lan

College Graduates (General)
John Finamore

Recent College Graduates
Flora Lan

Doctoral Scientists and Engineers
Steve Proudfoot

Licensing of Microdata Files
Nirmala Kannankutty


Can't find what you're looking for? Search NCSES or Browse the Publication IndexLast Updated: May 21, 2015