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Chapter 2. Higher Education in Science and Engineering


S&E higher education in the United States is attracting growing numbers of students. The number of bachelor's and master's degrees awarded in all fields and in S&E fields continues to rise, having reached new peaks in 2009. Most of the growth in undergraduate S&E education occurred in science fields, in particular in the social and behavioral sciences. In engineering, bachelor's degrees increased since 2002 but have not yet reached the record high levels attained in the 1980s. Computer sciences degree awards dropped precipitously between 2004 and 2007, but have began to rebound since then. A growth in the number of master's degrees awarded occurred in all major S&E fields. The number of doctoral degrees awarded in all fields and in S&E increased between 2000 and 2008 and remained stable in 2009. In the last decade, growth in doctoral degrees awarded occurred mostly in the natural sciences and engineering fields.

Foreign graduate student enrollment in S&E recovered since early in the decade when the number of entering foreign students dropped after 11 September 2001.

Globalization of higher education continues to expand. Although the United States continues to attract the largest number and fraction of foreign students worldwide, its share of foreign students has decreased in recent years. Universities in several other countries have expanded their enrollment of foreign S&E students.