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New data offer the latest look at Ph.D. training and employment trends

The latest numbers on U.S. doctoral recipients are out. Between July 2015 and June 2016, 32,246 scientists and engineers in the country earned the distinction of being able to add “Ph.D.” after their names, according to the most recent National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) data released Wednesday. Just over 30% of these new Ph.D. recipients were still figuring out their next step when they filed for their degree. In the life, physical, and earth sciences, a similar number (approximately one-third) were headed to postdoc positions. Among math, computer science, and engineering Ph.D. recipients, on the other hand, about half that proportion (17%) had postdoc plans. For most disciplines, around two-thirds of new Ph.D.s with nonpostdoc plans were moving into R&D positions, as compared with a little less than 50% for those in the life sciences. The data also include updated median salaries by sector and postdoc stipends by disciplines. Overall, this year’s numbers are similar to last year’s (and those from other recent years). Nonetheless, the SED is a useful way to keep up with trends in graduate education and employment and an impressive trove of data for anyone who wants to dive in themselves to learn more.

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