The National Science Foundation (NSF) keeps track not only of how many doctorates U.S. institutions award each year, but also where the recipients earned their undergraduate degrees. The NSF's latest tally shows that liberal arts colleges continue to excel at this enterprise. Although they enroll approximately 8 percent of four-year college students, from 1996 to 2002 their graduates earned 15.5 percent of the Ph.D.s awarded.
For more information about which fields of science doctoral students elect to pursue, see the attached chart.
The top 25 research universities, meanwhile, produced five times as many Ph.D.s as the top 25 baccalaureate institutions—but they also enrolled five to ten times as many students.
For example, the University of California, Berkeley, which reserves prime parking spaces on campus for the eight Nobel Prize winners on its faculty, produced 2,234 undergraduates who earned science and engineering Ph.D.s from 1996 to 2002, more than any other institution. Berkeley enrolls almost 24,000 undergraduates. Oberlin College, which led the baccalaureate schools with 417 science and engineering Ph.D.s, enrolls fewer than 2,900.
The NSF data also show that the same highly selective four-year colleges remain at the head of the class in producing science Ph.D.s. Indeed, these schools have become even more productive since the NSF's 1996 report, Undergraduate Origins of Recent (1991-95) Science and Engineering Doctorate Recipients (NSF 96-334). From 1991 to 1995, graduates from the top 25 baccalaureate colleges earned 3,686 science and engineering Ph.D.s, for an average of 737 a year, and from 1996 to 2002 graduates from these schools earned 5,648 science and engineering Ph.D.s, or 807 a year. The accompanying charts tell the story in raw numbers.
this story in Acrobat PDF format.
Reprinted from the HHMI Bulletin,
Summer 2004, pages 10-21.
©2004 Howard Hughes Medical Institute