Doctoral Degrees Rose in 2011, but Career Options Weren’t So Rosy

December 5, 2012

American universities awarded a total of 49,010 research doctorates in 2011, a 2-percent increase from 2010, according to an annual survey by the National Science Foundation. A report describing the survey's findings, released on Wednesday, says that almost three-quarters of all doctorates awarded last year were in science and engineering fields, a proportion that increased by 4 percent from the previous year. During the same period, the number of doctorates awarded in the humanities declined by 3 percent. That decline was attributed in part to the reclassification of most doctor-of-education degrees as professional rather than research doctorates. Without that decrease in education degrees, the overall number of research doctorates awarded would have exceeded 50,000, said Mark K. Fiegener, a project officer at the NSF.