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The origins of science and engineering doctorates

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Survey of Earned Doctorates  (National Opinion Research Center)

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Foreign institutions and U.S. public research universities play large roles in the baccalaureate education of U.S.-trained science and engineering (S&E) doctorate recipients. According to data from the 2011 Survey of Earned Doctorates, 35 percent of individuals earning S&E doctorates from U.S. universities held bachelor's degrees from foreign institutions and 29 percent earned bachelor's degrees from U.S. doctorate-granting institutions with very high research activity.  Of the top 50 U.S. baccalaureate-origin institutions for 2002 through 2011 S&E doctorate recipients, approximately two-thirds are public institutions and all but one are research universities with very high research activity.

Private baccalaureate colleges are also important contributors to the education of future S&E doctorate recipients even though they graduate relatively small numbers of undergraduate degree holders in comparison to doctorate-granting institutions.  After normalizing for the number of bachelor's degrees awarded per institution, more than half of the top 50 U.S. baccalaureate-origin institutions for 2002 to 2011 S&E doctorate recipients are private baccalaureate colleges. 

Rankings of baccalaureate-origin institutions based on the absolute numbers of S&E doctorate recipients understate the contributions of baccalaureate colleges in the training of U.S. S&E doctorate recipients. To account for this disparity, a second measure of institutional contribution is used to establish rankings. The institutional-yield ratio for a baccalaureate-origin institution is expressed as the number of S&E doctorate recipients per 100 bachelor's degrees awarded in all fields nine years earlier. When institutional rankings are determined according to the institutional-yield ratio rather than the absolute counts of S&E doctorate recipients, 27 of the top 50 U.S. baccalaureate-origin institutions are private baccalaureate colleges and 21 are research universities with very high research activity.

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  • foreign institutions play a large role in the baccalaureate education of u.s.-trained science and engineering doctoral recipients
Over one-third of S&E doctoral recipients hold bachelor's degrees from foreign institutions.
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