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More people study chemistry, NSF finds

September 11, 2006 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 84, Issue 37

NSF has released a statistical report on the number of graduate students and postdocs in science and engineering fields. The 54 tables include historical data from 1975 to 2004 and represent estimated enrollment numbers in science, engineering, and health-related programs in 12,240 graduate departments at 589 institutions in the U.S. and outlying areas. According to the report, the number of graduate students in the physical sciences grew by 36% since 1975, which includes gains of 46% and 44% in chemical engineering and biological fields, respectively. The data also show increasing numbers for field-specific, full-time graduate student enrollment in chemistry-related fields at doctorate-granting institutions from 1997 to 2004. For chemistry, the number grew by 15% to 18,000; for biochemistry, the growth was 10% to 5,279; and for chemical engineering, the growth was 10% to 6,346. The number of postdoc appointees at doctorate-granting institutions was also up in 2004 from 1997. In chemistry, the number of postdocs rose by 10% to 4,100, of whom 2,771 are foreign students holding temporary visas. Chemical engineering postdocs grew by 8% to 688, with 466 being temporary visa holders. And for biochemistry, the number of postdocs rose 4% from 1997 to 2,426, including 1,488 temporary visa holders.


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