by Ronda Britt[1]

University spending on research and development in all fields totaled $67.2 billion [2] in FY 2013, according to data from the National Science Foundation (NSF) Higher Education Research and Development (HERD) Survey (table 1). When adjusted for inflation, higher education R&D increased by less than half a percent in FY 2013 (figure 1). This overall amount represents the reported totals from 891 degree-granting institutions that spent at least $150,000 in R&D in the previous fiscal year. The remainder of this InfoBrief focuses on the 645 institutions included in the full version of the survey (standard form) that reported at least $1 million in R&D during their previous fiscal year and who contributed 99.8% of the total R&D expenditures reported in FY 2013. For more information see Data Sources, Limitations, and Availability.

TABLE 1. Higher education R&D expenditures, by source of funds, R&D field, and survey population: FY 2013
(Thousands of current dollars)

HERD = higher education research and development; nec = not elsewhere classified; S&E = science and engineering.

NOTE: Institutions are included in the short form population if they reported less than $1 million in total R&D expenditures during the previous fiscal year.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey, FY 2013.

Table 1 Source Data: Excel file

HERD Survey population
Source of funds and R&D field All institutions Short form Standard form
All R&D expenditures 67,173,419 132,265 67,041,154
Source of funds
Federal government 39,535,199 65,042 39,470,157
State and local government 3,666,940 9,215 3,657,725
Institution funds 15,011,613 37,690 14,973,923
Business 3,505,552 4,244 3,501,308
Nonprofit organizations 3,874,135 14,042 3,860,093
All other sources 1,579,980 2,032 1,577,948
R&D field
Science 52,765,521 99,559 52,665,962
Computer sciences 2,073,175 4,982 2,068,193
Environmental sciences 3,208,984 9,827 3,199,157
Life sciences 37,631,306 46,106 37,585,200
Mathematical sciences 674,690 3,702 670,988
Physical sciences 4,664,313 18,290 4,646,023
Psychology 1,157,497 5,795 1,151,702
Social sciences 2,175,769 5,745 2,170,024
Sciences, nec 1,179,787 5,112 1,174,675
Engineering 10,737,839 9,154 10,728,685
Non-S&E 3,670,059 23,552 3,646,507
FIGURE 1. Higher education R&D expenditures, by source of funds: FYs 2004–13.

  Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file

Academic R&D expenditures funded by the one-time American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA) continued to decrease, declining to $1.5 billion in FY 2013.[3] ARRA funding represented 3.7% of the federally funded R&D expenditures for FY 2013. Including ARRA funding, the total federal funding for higher education R&D declined from $40.2 billion in FY 2012 to $39.5 billion in FY 2013, continuing a decline in the proportion of academic R&D funded by the federal government (table 2). Since FY 2011, federally funded expenditures have dropped from 62.5% to 58.9% of total R&D expenditures, resuming the pre-ARRA trend (figure 2). In constant dollars, federally funded R&D expenditures declined 3.1% in FY 2013.

TABLE 2. Higher education R&D expenditures, by source of funds: FYs 2010–13
(Millions of current dollars)

ARRA = American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.

NOTES: FY 2012 and FY 2013 totals exclude short form institutions (those reporting less than $1 million in R&D expenditures in the prior fiscal year). The total reported by short form institutions in FY 2012 was $145 million, of which $75 million was federally funded. The total reported in FY 2013 was $132 million, of which $65 million was federally funded.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

Table 2 Source Data: Excel file

Fiscal year All R&D
expenditures
Federal
government
(non-ARRA)
Federal
government
(ARRA)
State and
local
government
Institution
funds
Business Nonprofit
organizations
All other
sources
2010 61,257 34,793 2,684 3,853 11,941 3,198 3,740 1,048
2011 65,282 36,597 4,173 3,829 12,612 3,180 3,854 1,037
2012 65,744 37,715 2,436 3,695 13,635 3,272 4,022 969
2013 67,041 37,997 1,473 3,658 14,974 3,501 3,860 1,578
FIGURE 2. Higher education R&D expenditures funded by the federal government: FY
2004–13.

  Figure 2 Source Data: Excel file

R&D Expenditures by Source

Institution-funded R&D continued its rapid growth and rose 9.8% to nearly $15 billion in FY 2013 (table 2). Institution funds now constitute 22.3% of total R&D, rising from 19.5% in FY 2010. There are three components to institution funds: direct funding of R&D ($8.9 billion), cost sharing on externally sponsored projects ($1.4 billion), and indirect costs on external projects that are not reimbursed by the sponsors ($4.7 billion). Expenditures funded by state and local government held roughly steady at $3.7 billion in FY 2013, and nonprofit-funded expenditures fell $162 million to $3.9 billion. Business-funded R&D continued to grow, rising 7.0% in FY 2013 to $3.5 billion. Expenditures funded by "all other sources"—such as foreign governments, other universities, or gifts designated by the donors for research—increased $609 million in FY 2012, reaching $1.6 billion in FY 2013.[4]

Among federal agencies, the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), including the National Institutes of Health, continues to provide the majority of the R&D funding (54%, or $21.2 billion). Eighty-eight percent of the HHS total supported R&D within the life sciences (table 3). The National Science Foundation (NSF) and the Department of Defense (DOD) were the next largest funders of R&D, with $5.4 and $5.0 billion, respectively. The funding provided by NSF was distributed across many of the broad fields, with somewhat larger concentrations in engineering and physical sciences (23% and 20%, respectively), whereas DOD had a substantial concentration of their funding within the field of engineering (49%).

TABLE 3. Federally financed higher education R&D expenditures, by agency and field: FY 2013
(Thousands of current dollars)

DOD = Department of Defense; DOE = Department of Energy; HHS = Department of Health and Human Services; NASA = National Aeronautics and Space Administration; nec = not elsewhere classified; NSF = National Science Foundation; S&E = Science and engineering; USDA = U.S. Department of Agriculture.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey, FY 2013.

Table 3 Source Data: Excel file

Agency All R&D
fields
Computer
sciences
Environmental
sciences
Life
sciences
Mathematical
sciences
Physical
sciences
Psychology Social
sciences
Sciences,
nec
Engineering Non-S&E
fields
All agencies 39,470,157 1,552,070 2,097,153 22,250,416 464,500 3,309,274 789,164 897,076 441,636 6,493,109 1,175,759
DOD 5,037,554 546,717 208,006 913,123 93,531 509,648 56,854 94,522 86,895 2,457,102 71,156
DOE 1,873,818 50,412 143,967 216,176 15,110 610,976 574 11,032 28,216 785,430 11,925
HHS 21,222,929 80,408 79,135 18,662,583 47,345 530,525 531,696 304,843 132,585 632,635 221,174
NASA 1,332,307 16,796 299,909 84,659 3,903 455,111 17,564 15,241 3,790 421,946 13,388
NSF 5,395,972 706,428 768,294 770,373 266,914 1,058,359 77,097 148,895 134,979 1,246,149 218,484
USDA 1,091,575 3,486 56,657 875,931 4,084 7,413 6,168 55,695 8,502 57,796 15,843
All other
agencies 3,516,002 147,823 541,185 727,571 33,613 137,242 99,211 266,848 46,669 892,051 623,789

R&D Expenditures by Field

The largest broad field, life sciences, rose slightly to $37.6 billion in FY 2013 (table 4), although this represented a second year of decline in constant dollars. Engineering was the next largest broad field and also increased slightly to $10.7 billion in FY 2013. Computer sciences had the largest percentage increase in constant dollars and rose to over $2 billion in current dollars for the first time in FY 2013. Over the past 10 years, non-science and engineering fields, such as education, humanities, and business, experienced the highest average annual constant dollar growth, growing by 6.6% per year. R&D in engineering fields grew by 3.5% annually in constant dollar terms.

TABLE 4. Higher education R&D expenditures, by R&D field: FYs 2004–13

nec = not elsewhere classified; S&E = science and engineering.

a Prior to FY 2010, some institution totals for all fields of R&D expenditures may be lower-bound estimates because the National Science Foundation did not attempt to estimate for nonresponse on non-S&E R&D expenditures item.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, Higher Education Research and Development Survey.

Table 4 Source Data: Excel file

R&D field 2004 2005 2006 2007 2008 2009 2010 2011 2012 2013
Current $millions
Computer sciences 1,404 1,404 1,443 1,431 1,471 1,600 1,638 1,740 1,820 2,068
Environmental sciences 2,353 2,554 2,601 2,681 2,799 2,923 2,992 3,159 3,179 3,199
Life sciences 25,949 27,604 28,804 29,805 31,193 32,779 34,949 37,324 37,187 37,585
Mathematical sciences 448 494 533 573 620 547 594 640 674 671
Physical sciences 3,547 3,703 3,814 3,863 3,932 4,283 4,622 4,783 4,724 4,646
Psychology 782 825 876 873 925 972 1,078 1,159 1,188 1,152
Social sciences 1,675 1,685 1,706 1,803 1,950 2,081 1,997 2,064 2,054 2,170
Sciences, nec 764 761 888 948 1,025 1,029 1,161 1,092 1,102 1,175
Engineering 6,314 6,743 7,095 7,517 7,958 8,649 9,329 10,040 10,292 10,729
Non-S&E a 1,601 1,761 1,887 2,095 2,242 2,425 2,897 3,281 3,523 3,647
Constant 2009 $millions
Computer sciences 1,586 1,538 1,530 1,477 1,489 1,600 1,624 1,692 1,740 1,947
Environmental sciences 2,658 2,797 2,759 2,769 2,832 2,923 2,966 3,072 3,038 3,012
Life sciences 29,308 30,228 30,548 30,778 31,559 32,779 34,648 36,293 35,538 35,384
Mathematical sciences 507 541 565 592 627 547 589 623 644 632
Physical sciences 4,006 4,055 4,045 3,989 3,978 4,283 4,582 4,651 4,515 4,374
Psychology 884 903 929 901 936 972 1,069 1,127 1,136 1,084
Social sciences 1,892 1,845 1,809 1,862 1,973 2,081 1,979 2,007 1,962 2,043
Sciences, nec 863 834 941 979 1,037 1,029 1,151 1,062 1,053 1,106
Engineering 7,132 7,384 7,525 7,763 8,051 8,649 9,248 9,763 9,836 10,100
Non-S&E a 1,808 1,929 2,001 2,163 2,268 2,425 2,872 3,190 3,366 3,433

Data Sources, Limitations, and Availability

The fiscal year referred to throughout this report is the academic fiscal year. For most institutions, FY 2013 represents 1 July 2012 through 30 June 2013. The higher education R&D expenditures data were collected from a census of 891 universities and colleges that grant bachelors or higher degrees and expended at least $150,000 in R&D in FY 2013. In order to reduce respondent burden, the HERD Survey was revised beginning in FY 2012 to request abbreviated data from institutions reporting less than $1 million in R&D expenditures during the previous fiscal year. Except for table 1, the totals shown in this InfoBrief do not include expenditures reported by 246 institutions that completed a short form version of the survey in FY 2013. These institutions accounted for an additional $132 million to the U.S. total of higher education R&D expenditures in FY 2013. The combined results will be shown within a limited set of data tables.

The amounts reported include all funds expended for activities specifically organized to produce research outcomes and sponsored by an outside organization or separately budgeted using institution funds. R&D expenditures at university-administered federally funded research and development centers (FFRDCs) are collected in a separate survey, the FFRDC R&D Survey, and these data are available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/ffrdc/. The full set of data tables from this survey is available at http://ncsesdata.nsf.gov/herd/2013/.

Notes

[1] Ronda Britt, Research and Development Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (rbritt@nsf.gov; 703-292-7765).

[2] Unless otherwise indicated, references to dollar amounts or percentages are in current dollars.

[3] Although the funding was awarded to institutions in federal FY 2009 and FY 2010, much of the funding was for multiyear projects. The deadline for spending on the majority of ARRA projects was 30 September 2013; therefore, ARRA expenditures are expected to appear in HERD Survey totals through at least academic FY 2014.

[4] The increase in "all other sources" may be partly due to more accurate reporting, because the survey instructions were revised in FY 2013 to clarify that non-pass-through funds received from other universities or gifts designated for research by individual donors should be included here rather than under nonprofit organizations or institution funds. Many institutions moved significant amounts of funds between these categories in FY 2013.