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Internationalization of U.S. Doctorate Education

In: Science and Engineering Careers in the United States: An Analysis of Markets and Employment

  • John Bound
  • Sarah Turner
  • Patrick Walsh

The representation of a large number of students born outside the United States among the ranks of doctorate recipients from U.S. universities is one of the most significant transformations in U.S. graduate education and the international market for highly-trained workers in science and engineering in the last quarter century. Students from outside the U.S. accounted for 51% of PhD recipients in science and engineering fields in 2003, up from 27% in 1973. In the physical sciences, engineering and economics the representation of foreign students among PhD recipients is yet more striking; among doctorate recipients in 2003, those from outside the U.S. accounted for 50% of degrees in the physical sciences, 67% in engineering and 68% in economics. Our analysis highlights the important role of changes in demand among foreign born in explaining the growth and distribution of doctorates awarded in science and engineering. Expansion in undergraduate degree receipt in many countries has a direct effect on the demand for advanced training in the U.S. Changes in the supply side of the U.S. graduate education market may also differentially affect the representation of foreign students in U.S. universities. Supply shocks such as increases in federal support for the sciences will have relatively large effects on the representation in the U.S. of doctorate students from countries where demand is relatively elastic. Understanding the determinants -- and consequences -- of changes over time in the representation of foreign born students among doctorate recipients from U.S. universities informs the design of policies affecting the science and engineering workforce.

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This chapter was published in:
  • Richard B. Freeman & Daniel Goroff, 2009. "Science and Engineering Careers in the United States: An Analysis of Markets and Employment," NBER Books, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc, number free09-1, Abril.
  • This item is provided by National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc in its series NBER Chapters with number 11618.
    Handle: RePEc:nbr:nberch:11618
    Contact details of provider: Postal: National Bureau of Economic Research, 1050 Massachusetts Avenue Cambridge, MA 02138, U.S.A.
    Phone: 617-868-3900
    Web page: http://www.nber.org
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    1. Richard B. Freeman & Emily Jin & Chia-Yu Shen, 2004. "Where Do New US-Trained Science-Engineering PhDs come from?," NBER Working Papers 10554, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
    2. Richard B. Freeman & Tanwin Chang & Hanley Chiang, 2005. "Supporting "The Best and Brightest" in Science and Engineering: NSF Graduate Research Fellowships," NBER Working Papers 11623, National Bureau of Economic Research, Inc.
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