More science doctorates, fewer postdoctorate science jobs


U.S. universities awarded 12,305 Ph.D.s in life science and 9290 in physical sciences in 2013, up from 8508 and 5831, respectively in 2003, according to Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: 2013, this year’s edition of the National Science Foundation’s report on U.S. recipients of doctoral degrees. The report itself isn’t yet available, but the data tables can be found here.

Apparently the number of postdocs and jobs hasn’t kept pace with the increase in doctorate production: The percentages of new doctorate recipients who report that they don’t have a firm commitment for a job or postdoc appointment are also up, especially in the life sciences. In 2013, 41.5% of those in the life sciences reported no job or postdoc commitment, compared to 27.9% 10 years earlier. In the physical sciences, 34.1% reported no commitment, up from 26.4% in 2003.

In all categories, industry jobs paid best. For both types of scientist, academe paid considerably less than industry, government, and nonprofits.

Women’s salaries may be lower, but they’re receiving more degrees than they used to. In 2013, women received 55.3% of the life science doctorates, up from 48.3% in 2003 and 30.9% in 1983. Women in physical sciences also gained ground, receiving 29.1% of the physical science doctorates, up from 26.5% in 2003 and 13.9% in 1983.

You can find lots more interesting—though sometimes discouraging—data, here.

The National Academies revisit the postdoc experience

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