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Data Source:   NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates/Doctorate Records File
The Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), which is conducted annually by the survey contractor for the Federal sponsors of the survey: the National Science Foundation (NSF), the National Institutes of Health (NIH), the U.S. Department of Education (USED), the National Endowment for the Humanities (NEH), the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA), and the National Aeronautic and Space Administration (NASA). Information from this survey becomes part of the Doctorate Records File (DRF). The DRF contains data on all earned doctorates granted by regionally accredited United States universities, in all fields from 1920 to the present.

Lynn Milan
Project Officer, Survey of Earned Doctorates
National Science Foundation
Directorate for Social, Behavioral & Economic Sciences
National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics
4201 Wilson Boulevard, Room 965.57
Arlington, VA 22230
Phone: (703) 292-2275
Fax: (703) 292-9092

Source data and documentation are available from the National Science Foundation, National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics.
Data are available for academic year (AY) 1966 through AY 2015.
Data for July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015, are academic year (AY) 2015.
Current As Of
Data are current as of January 2017.
Population Size and Structure
Approximately 90 percent of the annual cohort of doctorate recipients in 2015 responded to the questionnaire. Over the past decade, the self-report response rates have been:

2006 93.1%
2007 91.7%
2008 92.3%
2009 92.6%
2010 93.0%
2011 92.9%
2012 92.4%
2013 92.0%
2014 90.6%
2015 90.2%

The response rate for a particular academic year will vary slightly over time as late responses are added.

Differences in survey and item response rates from year to year can produce numerical fluctuations that are unrelated to true trends. Increasing or decreasing numbers in a citizenship or racial/ethnic group, for example, reflect to some degree any upward or downward change in both overall survey response and item response.

Until 1990, records with missing gender were imputed using the first name of the recipient only if the first name could be positively identified as male or female. Records that could not be identified by the first name were set to male. In 1990, follow-up procedures were implemented for cases still missing after imputation. Records for which gender still could not be identified in the follow-up were set to male. In 1997, it was decided to discontinue this practice. Therefore, data with unknown gender occur in 1988 and in 1990 and later years.
  • Race, ethnicity, citizenship
    1990 to present. Data on race, ethnicity, and citizenship are not directly comparable to those for 1989 and earlier years owing to procedural changes made to improve the completeness of the data.

  • Race, ethnicity, citizenship, gender
    2007-current. Data on race, ethnicity, citizenship, and gender are available only through the SED Tabulation Engine. All other Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) variables formerly available in WebCASPAR are available in the tabulation engine, except baccalaureate institution and the highest degree awarded by those institutions.

    The change in reporting is part of a larger program to strengthen the confidentiality protections applied to SED data. Unfortunately, the procedures necessary to provide confidentiality protection are incompatible with the WebCASPAR system. For more information on the disclosure protection strategy implemented, please see Reporting of Data on Race/Ethnicity/Sex by Field in SED Reports.

    1966-2006. Data on race, ethnicity, citizenship, and gender are available through WebCASPAR.

  • Response rates
    New survey items. Response rates may be lower in the year an item is introduced because not all respondents use a current survey questionnaire (e.g., in academic year (AY) 1987, 22% of respondents did not use AY 1987 survey forms).
Professional degrees such as the M.D., D.D.S., O.D., D.V.M., and J.D. are not covered by the Survey of Earned Doctorates.
Quality Control
Owing to differences between WebCASPAR and the SED with respect to the coding of institutions, a small number of doctorate recipients are assigned an "unknown institution" code in WebCASPAR, a category that does not exist in the SED. As a result, WebCASPAR tabulations involving the following variables will not correspond exactly to similar tabulations appearing in NSF publications: academic institution, institutional control, state, Carnegie classification, and highest degree awarded.

For all other WebCASPAR variables, the data have been checked and verified to correspond to data in the following NSF publications:

S&E Doctorate Awards: 2009-10
To match the number of science and engineering (S&E) doctorates in the above publication, you must use the summation group, "S&E TOTAL (EXCL MEDICAL/OTH LIFE SCI)," in the "Academic Discipline" category in WebCASPAR.
Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities: 2015

To match racial/ethnic counts in the above publication for 2006 and earlier years, use the variable, "Number of Doctorate Recipients (US Citizens & Perm Residents)." Field groupings in the above publication differ from those in WebCASPAR, as follows:

Doctorate Field Summary Report Grouping WebCASPAR Grouping
309 Ceramic Sciences Other Engineering Materials Engineering
318 Communications Engineering Other Engineering Electrical Engineering
321 Computer Engineering Other Engineering Electrical Engineering
327 Engineering Mechanics Other Engineering Mechanical Engineering
336 Environment Health Engineering Other Engineering Civil Engineering
348 Metallurgical Engineering Other Engineering Materials Engineering
366 Petroleum Engineering Other Engineering Chemical Engineering
369 Polymer and Plastics Engineering Other Engineering Chemical Engineering
547 Fuel Technology and Petroleum Engineering Physical Sciences Chemical Engineering
585 Hydrology and Water Resources Ocean/Marine Sciences Earth Sciences
662 Demography/Population Studies Other Social Sciences Sociology
710 History, Science and Technology and Society Humanities/History Social Sciences/History of Science
770 American/U.S. Studies Other Social Sciences Social Sciences/Area and Ethnic Studies
773 Archaeology Other Humanities Social Sciences/Anthropology
790 Region/Religious Studies Other Humanities Religion and Theology
792 Bible/Biblical Studies Other Humanities Religion and Theology
960 Architecture and Environmental Design Other Non-S&E Fields Architecture and Environmental Design
964 Family/Consumer Science/Human Science Other Non-S&E Fields Vocational Studies and Home Economics
968 Law Other Non-S&E Fields Law
972 Library Science Other Non-S&E Fields Communication and Librarianship
974 Parks/Recreation/Leisure/Fitness Other Non-S&E Fields Other Non-Sciences or Unknown Disciplines
976 Public Administration Other Non-S&E Fields Other Non-Sciences or Unknown Disciplines
984 Theology/Religious Education Other Humanities Religion and Theology
988 Professional Fields, General Other Non-S&E Fields Other Non-Sciences or Unknown Disciplines
989 Other Fields, not elsewhere classified Other Non-S&E Fields Other Non-Sciences or Unknown Disciplines
999 Unknown Field Other Non-S&E Fields Other Non-Sciences or Unknown Disciplines

Survey of Earned Doctorates field codes to WebCASPAR academic discipline codes
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