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FIGURE TS-4B Work sector of PhDs by field, 2001.

SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Survey of Doctoral Recipients 2003. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2005.

students are increasingly turning away from S&E, especially during their undergraduate years.20 In the 1990s, surveys of science majors from top universities showed a striking decline of interest in S&E careers. Between 1984 and 1998, the percentage of college seniors planning to go to graduate school in the next fall in S&E fields dropped from 17 to 12%. Among those students with A or A- grade-point averages, the declines were comparably steep—from 25 to 18%.21

Between 1992 and 2000, the number of college seniors who scored highly on the Graduate Record Examination (GRE) and indicated that they intended to study S&E in graduate school fell by 8%. The number of these top students planning to go to graduate school in fields other than S&E grew by 7% (Figure TS-5). The greatest declines were in engineering (25%) and mathematics (19%). Among top GRE scorers, however, enrollment in biological sciences programs showed a 59% gain. When it came to careers outside S&E, the researchers found that the fields attracting the largest growth in top GRE scorers were short training programs in health profes-


W. Zumeta and J. S. Raveling. “Attracting the Best and the Brightest.” Issues in Science and Technology (Winter 2002):36-40.


E. I. Holmstrom, C. D. Gaddy, V. V. Van Horne, and C. M. Zimmerman. Best and Brightest: Education and Career Paths of Top S&E Students. Washington, DC: Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, 1997.

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