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dents to continue, but in so doing they also can discourage highly qualified students who could succeed if they were given enough support in the early days of their undergraduate experience.

Beyond the prospect of difficult and lengthy undergraduate and graduate study and postdoctoral requirements, career prospects can be tenuous. At a general level, news about companies that send jobs overseas can foster doubt about the domestic science and engineering job market. Graduate students are sometimes discouraged by a perceived mismatch between education and employment prospects in the academic sector. The number of tenured academic positions is decreasing, and an increasing majority of those with doctorates in science or engineering now work outside of academia. Doctoral training, however, still typically assumes students will work in universities and often does not prepare graduates for other careers.61 Finally, it is harder to stay current in science and engineering than it is to keep up with developments in many other fields. Addressing the issues of effective lifelong training, time-to-degree, attractive career options, and appropriate type and amount of financial support are all critical to recruiting and retaining students at all levels.

Where are the top US students going, if not into science and engineering? They do not appear to be headed in large numbers to law school or medical school, where enrollments also have been flat or declining. Some seem attracted to MBA programs, which grew by about one-third during the 1990s. In the 1990s, many science and engineering graduates entered the workforce directly after college, lured by the booming economy. Then, as the bubble deflated in the early part of the present decade, some returned to graduate school. A larger portion of the current crop of science and engineering graduates seems to be interested in graduate school.62 In 2003, enrollment in graduate science and engineering programs reached an all-time high, gaining 4% over 2002 and 9% over 1993, the previous peak year. Increasingly, the new graduate students are US citizens or permanent residents—67% in 2003 compared with 60% in 200063—and their prospects seem good: In 2001, the share of top US citizen scorers on the Gradu-


NAS/NAE/IOM. Reshaping Graduate Education. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1995; National Research Council. Assessing Research-Doctorate Programs: A Methodology Study. Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2003.


W. Zumeta and J. S. Raveling. The Best and the Brightest for Science: Is There a Problem Here? In M. P. Feldman and A. N. Link, eds. Innovation Policy in the Knowledge-Based Economy. Boston: Klewer Academic Publishers, 2001. Pp. 121-161.


National Science Foundation. Graduate Enrollment in Science and Engineering Programs Up in 2003, but Declines for First-Time Foreign Students. NSF 05-317. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2005.

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