This special report examines the impact of changes in the frame of institutions for the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS) based on frame evaluation research conducted during the past several survey cycles.

The GSS is an annual census of all academic institutions granting research-based master's degrees or doctorates in science, engineering, and selected health (SEH) fields in the United States. In 2010, the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES) at the National Science Foundation (NSF) initiated a comprehensive frame evaluation study for the GSS for the first time since 1979. This study sought to identify and survey any potentially eligible but not previously surveyed institutions.[1] The study initially identified 605 potentially eligible institutions, which were contacted for the GSS Eligibility Screening Survey in 2011.

The 2011 Eligibility Screening Survey identified 165 newly eligible institutions with at least one master's- or doctorate-granting program in science, engineering, or health. After collecting and assessing the quality of the data from the newly eligible institutions, NCSES decided more time was needed to thoroughly verify the degree program eligibility and to improve the data reporting quality from these institutions before including them in the GSS data. Over the next two cycles, 25 of these institutions were determined to be ineligible, leaving 140 eligible institutions at the end of the 2013 GSS cycle.

This analysis examines the impact of expanding the GSS frame to include these 140 new institutions on key GSS counts and trends.[2] In particular, this analysis looks at institutional characteristics and characteristics of graduate students, postdoctoral appointees (postdocs), and other doctorate-holding nonfaculty researchers (NFRs).

In general, this analysis shows that adding these new institutions will have limited impact on overall counts and trends in the GSS. Key findings include:


[1] See "New institution eligibility screening for the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering: Methodology Report." For more information please contact the GSS Project Officer: Kelly H. Kang, Human Resources Statistics Program, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington, VA 22230 (; 703-292-7796).

[2] Subsequent to this analysis, a total of 154 potentially eligible institutions were added to the data collection in 2014. These included the 140 institutions identified during the 2011 review that remained eligible at the end of the 2013 data collection and 14 additional institutions identified by the new annual frame coverage review. By the end of the 2014 data collection, two of these new institutions had been classified as ineligible and one had merged with an extant institution in 2013. As a result, the final 2014 GSS included 151 new institutions (see appendix A for more information about the GSS frame reviews).