Issue Date: February 26, 2018
By the numbers: Who’s going to grad school in chemistry and chemical engineering
The Council of Graduate Schools every two years releases data analyzing the previous decade of graduate school enrollment and degree awards. The department-specific data, which is not publicly available, can help disciplines see trends in first-time and total enrollment, as well as specific demographic changes. The newest survey looks at data from the years 2006–16.
In chemistry, enrollment over the past decade was down slightly, with an average annual decrease of more than 1%. The previous report, with data from the years 2004–14, showed almost flat enrollment for chemistry. The 2006–16 data also showed that enrollment was down more for women than men. The percentage of degrees awarded is up, which indicates increased student retention. First-time enrollment of Hispanic students was particularly strong, up an average of 10% each year.
Chemical engineering had higher average annual enrollment across the board, including average annual increases of almost 5% for total enrollment of women. Degrees awarded were also strong for women, especially for those receiving a master’s. Asian Americans and Pacific Islander students had the largest enrollment increases, up an average of 10% a year. They made up 19% of U.S. citizens and permanent residents entering chemical engineering graduate school in 2016, as opposed to 9% in chemistry.
How has enrollment changed over the past decade?
First-time enrollment for Hispanic chemistry students grew an average of 10% a year, while the proportion of women initially enrolling was down. Average annual change in first-time enrollment in chemical engineering programs was greatest for Asian students.
Who is going to graduate school?
White students were still the vast majority of U.S. citizens and permanent residents who enrolled for the first time in chemistry and chemical engineering graduate programs in 2016.
Who is graduating?
While average enrollment in chemistry programs was down, the average annual per- centage of degrees awarded increased. In chemical engineering, the average annual percentage of women graduating increased the most.