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Undergraduate, Graduate, and Postgraduate Education in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics

SUMMARY

As educators of the nation’s future scientists, engineers, mathematicians, and K–12 teachers, US 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities are the central institutions in building the human resources needed for scientific and technological leadership.

However, these institutions face a number of challenges in producing knowledgeable graduates and trained professionals. Today, the United States ranks 17th globally in the proportion of its college-age population that earns science and engineering (S&E) degrees, down from third several decades ago.1 Many other nations now have a higher fraction of 24-year-olds with S&E degrees (see Figure HE-1). And even though the proportion of its population who attends graduate school is small, because of its large population China graduates three times as many engineers from its colleges as does the United States.

In the past, the United States has relied on international students and scientific and engineering professionals to maintain its base of human resources in these fields. But global competition for S&E talent is intensifying, and enrolling higher percentages of US students in these programs would have many benefits.

This paper summarizes findings and recommendations from a variety of recently published reports and papers as input to the deliberations of the Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century. Statements in this paper should not be seen as the conclusions of the National Academies or the committee.

1

Council on Competitiveness. Innovate America. Washington, DC: Council on Competitiveness, 2004.



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Undergraduate, Graduate, and Postgraduate Education in Science, Engineering, and Mathematics SUMMARY As educators of the nation’s future scientists, engineers, mathemati- cians, and K–12 teachers, US 2-year and 4-year colleges and universities are the central institutions in building the human resources needed for scientific and technological leadership. However, these institutions face a number of challenges in producing knowledgeable graduates and trained professionals. Today, the United States ranks 17th globally in the proportion of its college-age population that earns science and engineering (S&E) degrees, down from third several decades ago.1 Many other nations now have a higher fraction of 24-year- olds with S&E degrees (see Figure HE-1). And even though the proportion of its population who attends graduate school is small, because of its large population China graduates three times as many engineers from its colleges as does the United States. In the past, the United States has relied on international students and scientific and engineering professionals to maintain its base of human re- sources in these fields. But global competition for S&E talent is intensify- ing, and enrolling higher percentages of US students in these programs would have many benefits. This paper summarizes findings and recommendations from a variety of recently published reports and papers as input to the deliberations of the Committee on Prospering in the Global Economy of the 21st Century. Statements in this paper should not be seen as the conclusions of the National Academies or the committee. 1Council on Competitiveness. Innovate America. Washington, DC: Council on Competi- tiveness, 2004. 342

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343 APPENDIX D FIGURE HE-1 S&E bachelor’s degrees, by field: selected years, 1977-2000. NOTE: Geosciences include earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences. SOURCE: National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. NSB 04-01. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004. Figure 2-11. To meet this goal, many believe that the United States will need to attract S&E students from all demographic groups. Today, Blacks, Hispan- ics, and other underrepresented minority groups are about a quarter of the US population but make up only 17.9% of the undergraduate population, 2.5% of the these majors, and 6% of the S&E workforce (see Table HE-1 and Figure HE-2). Only a quarter of this workforce consists of women, though women are almost half the total US workforce. By 2020, more than

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TABLE HE-1 Ratio of Bachelor’s Degree to the 24-Year-Old Population, by 344 Selected Fields, Sex, and Race/Ethnicity: 1990 and 2000 aNS&E degrees include natural (physical, biological, earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences), agricul- tural, and computer sciences; mathematics, and engineering. bNumber of degrees per 100 24-year-olds. NOTE: NS&E = natural sciences and engineering. SOURCE: National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. NSB 04-01. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004. Table 2-8. This table was based on US Department of Edu- cation, Completions Survey; National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics, WebCASPAR database system, available at: http://caspar.nsf.gov/; and US Bureau of the Census, Population Division.

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345 APPENDIX D FIGURE HE-2 Minority share of S&E bachelor’s degrees, by race/ethnicity: selected years, 1977-2000. SOURCE: National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. NSB 04-01. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004. Figure 2-13. 40% of the US college-age population will be members of currently under- represented minorities. The federal government has a key role in establishing workforce poli- cies that address national needs and opportunities. Given how many years of education and training are required for someone to become a scientist, engineer, or mathematician, policies may need to focus on long-term op- portunities that may help to smooth short-term labor-market dynamics. Among the federal actions that organizations have recommended are the following:

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346 RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM Undergraduate Education • Provide incentives for all institutions of higher education to provide diverse internship opportunities for all undergraduates to study science, mathematics, engineering, and technology as early in their academic careers as possible. • Expand funding for programs at 2-year and 4-year colleges that suc- ceed in attracting and retaining women and members of minority groups underrepresented in science, mathematics, and engineering. Graduate Education • Establish education and traineeship grants to institutions focused on frontier research areas and multidisciplinary or innovation-oriented studies. • Require institutions applying for federal grants to report on the size, scope, and performance (student completion rates and career outcomes) of their graduate programs to determine whether these programs are meeting the interests of students in preparing them for diverse careers in academe, industry, government, and the nonprofit sector. Postdoctoral Training • Develop federal policies and standards for postdoctoral fellows sup- ported on federal research grants, including letters of appointment, perfor- mance evaluations, benefits and leave, and stipend support. • Help develop creative solutions to the problems faced by dual-career couples so that more US students opt to pursue research careers. • Create standards for and require the submission of demographic in- formation on postdoctoral scholars supported on federal research grants by investigators awarded such grants. Collect data on postdoctoral working conditions, prospects, and careers. The following discusses these issues in greater depth. UNDERGRADUATE EDUCATION The undergraduate years have a profound influence both on future pro- fessionals in science and mathematics and on broader public support of those fields. Undergraduate education acts as a springboard for students who choose to major in and then pursue graduate work in science and mathematics. Undergraduate institutions and community colleges train the technical support personnel who will keep our technological society func- tioning smoothly in the years ahead. And colleges and universities prepare

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347 APPENDIX D the elementary and secondary teachers who impart lifelong knowledge and attitudes about science and mathematics to their students. For many, the undergraduate years are the last opportunity for rigorous academic study of these subjects. Precollege education needs to include quality instruction in standards- based classrooms and a clear awareness that achievement in science and mathematics will be expected for admission to college. In addition, faculty in these disciplines should assume greater responsibility for the pre-service and in-service education of K–12 teachers. Many introductory undergraduate courses in science and mathematics fields have been taught to select out the best, most committed students and discard the rest. This strategy is being questioned: Are introductory courses the appropriate place and time for such filtering? Are the students being turned away any less good than those who stay? Evidence indicates that undergraduates who opt out of S&E programs are among the most highly qualified college entrants.2 Can the United States afford to turn away tal- ented students interested in these fields? Some argue more broadly that all college students should gain an aware- ness, understanding, and appreciation of the natural and human-constructed worlds and have at least one laboratory experience. Therefore, introduc- tory science and mathematics courses must find ways to provide students both with a broad education in these fields and with the specific skills they need to continue studying these subjects, as is the case with most other introductory courses in colleges. Students who decide to pursue non-S&E majors would then have the background and education to make informed decisions about S&E in their personal lives and professional careers. To serve these multiple objectives, many introductory and lower-level courses and programs would need to be designed to encourage students to continue, rather than end, their study of S&E subjects. Institutions should continually and systematically evaluate the efficacy of courses in these sub- jects for promoting student learning. Many of these issues are also highly relevant to students who enter 2-year colleges after graduating from high school. For example, about a quarter of the students who earn bachelor’s degrees in engineering have taken a substantial number of their lower-level courses at a community college, and nearly half have taken at least one community college course. 2S. Tobias. They’re Not Dumb, They’re Different. Stalking the Second Tier. Tucson, AZ: Research Corporation, 1990; E. Seymour and N. Hewitt. Talking About Leaving: Why Un- dergraduates Leave the Sciences. Boulder, CO: Westview Press, 1997; M. W. Ohland, G. Zhang, B. Thorndyke, and T. J. Anderson. “Grade-Point Average, Changes of Major, and Majors Selected by Students Leaving Engineering.” 34th ASEE/IEEE Frontiers in Education Conference, 2004. Session T1G:12-17.

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348 RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM As more students make community colleges their point of entry to post- secondary education, the quality of the S&E education they receive in 2-year institutions becomes increasingly important. Community college stu- dents need access to the kinds of lower-division courses that can prepare them for upper-division coursework in science, mathematics, and engineer- ing, either at their own institutions or through partnerships between institu- tions, distance learning, or other means. Two-year colleges need to provide students with access to the kinds of equipment, laboratories, and other in- frastructure they need to succeed. The federal government can help promote these institutional changes through the following actions: • Provide incentives for all institutions of higher education to provide diverse internship opportunities for all undergraduates to study science, mathematics, engineering, and technology as early in their academic careers as possible.3 Introductory courses should be integral parts of the standard curriculum, and all colleges should routinely evaluate the success of these courses. • Encourage science, mathematics, and engineering departments to work with education departments and surrounding school districts to im- prove the preparation of K–12 students. • Expand funding for science, mathematics, and engineering programs at 2-year and 4-year colleges that succeed in attracting and retaining women and members of minority groups underrepresented in these programs.4 MASTER’S AND PROFESSIONAL EDUCATION The baccalaureate has been the entry-level degree for many professional positions over the last century, but many employers in our increasingly complex economy now recognize the value of employees who have ad- vanced training (see Figure HE-3). Master’s degree programs provide stu- dents with S&E knowledge that is more in-depth than that provided in baccalaureate programs and supplements this knowledge with skills that have application in business, government, and nonprofit settings. Master’s degree programs also can provide the interdisciplinary training necessary for real-world jobs and can be structured to provide job-relevant skills in teamwork, project management, business administration, communication, statistics, and informatics. Moreover, master’s programs have the potential 3National Research Council. Transforming Undergraduate Education in Science, Mathemat- ics, Engineering, and Technology. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 1999. 4National Science Foundation, National Science Board. The Science and Engineering Workforce: Realizing America’s Potential. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2003.

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349 APPENDIX D FIGURE HE-3 Master’s degree in S&E fields earned by selected groups, 1977-2000. SOURCE: National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. NSB 04-01. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004. Figure 2-17. to attract greater numbers of women and minority-group members than do doctoral programs. A number of reports since the mid-1990s have argued that master’s degree programs for students in S&E with appropriate career aspirations can develop a cadre of professionals who meet employer needs. These reports have called for changes in master’s education to make these pro- grams more appropriate, cost effective, and attractive to students. In engi- neering, for example, the emphasis on increased skill in communications, business, the social sciences, cross-cultural studies, and important tech- nologies has meant that the first professional degree should not be at the baccalaureate but at the master’s level, as is the case in business, law, and medicine. Options for the federal government include the following: • Direct the National Science Foundation to fund professional science master’s programs at institutions that demonstrate innovative approaches

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350 RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM to orienting master’s-level degree programs toward scientific or technical skills needed in the US workforce. GRADUATE EDUCATION Graduate education in the United States is widely seen as the best in the world. America’s universities produce most of the scientists, engineers, and mathematicians who will maintain our preeminence in science and technol- ogy (see Figure HE-4). They educate the college faculty and K–12 teachers who will critically influence public support for scientific and technological endeavors And the intensive research experiences that are at the heart of graduate education at the doctoral level produce much of the new knowl- edge that drives scientific and technological progress. Students from many nations travel to the United States to enroll in science, engineering, and mathematics graduate programs and to serve as postdoctoral fellows. For example, international students account for nearly half of all graduate enrollments in engineering and computer science. The presence of large numbers of international students in US graduate schools has both positive and negative consequences.5 These students enhance the intellectual and cultural environments of the programs in which they are enrolled. Many remain in the United States after their training is finished and contribute substantially to our scientific and technological enterprise. However, the large numbers of foreign students in US graduate schools may have the effect of discouraging US students from pursuing this educational pathway because the rapidly increasing number of students has diminished the relative rewards of becoming a scientist or engineer.6 US colleges and universities have an important role to play in encouraging more US students to pursue graduate education in science, engineering, and mathematics. The federal government helps support graduate education through re- search assistantships funded through federal research project grants, fel- lowship and traineeship programs, and student loans (see Figure HE-5). The availability, level, and timing of this funding have implications for de- termining who can pursue a graduate education and how long it will take to complete that education. Also, the type of support—whether a research assistantship, teaching assistantship, traineeship, or fellowship—affects the content of graduate education and the kinds of skills one learns during graduate school. 5NAS/NAE/IOM. Reshaping the Graduate Education of Scientists and Engineers. Washing- ton, DC: National Academy Press, 1995. 6R. E. Gomory and H. T. Shapiro. “Globalization: Causes and Effects.” Issues in Science and Technology (Summer 2003):18-20.

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351 APPENDIX D FIGURE HE-4 S&E doctoral degrees earned in US universities, by field and under- represented minority S&E doctoral degrees, by race/ethnicity: selected years, 1977- 2001. SOURCE: National Science Board. Science and Engineering Indicators 2004. NSB 04-01. Arlington, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004. Figures 2-19 and 2-21. In the 1990s, several events led to a national discussion of the content and process of doctoral education that continues today. In the late 1980s, labor-market forces pointed toward an impending shortage of PhDs in the arts and sciences in the early to mid-1990s. When the end of the Cold War, a national recession, state budget cuts, and the end of mandatory retirement for college faculty led instead to disappointing job prospects for new PhDs in the early 1990s, a national debate on the doctorate and the job prospects of PhD recipients ensued. Also, in the 1990s, for the first time, more than half of PhDs in science and engineering reported that they held positions outside academe (see Fig- ure HE-6). This trend has generated interest in providing graduate students with more information about their career options, including whether they should pursue a master’s or doctoral degree and whether they should seek opportunities in government, industry, or nonprofit organizations as well as academe. In turn, this trend has focused attention on the need for train- ing that provides the practical career skills needed in the workplace: pedagogic skills, technological proficiency, the ability to communicate well in writing or oral presentations, experience working in teams, and facility in grant writing and project management. One great problem in discussions of workforce issues is the paucity of reliable, representative, and timely data. Often policy-makers are making decisions about the future based on data that are 2-3 years old.

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352 RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM Citizens and Permanent Residents 20,000 18,000 Number of PhD Candidates 16,000 Other 14,000 Supported 12,000 Fellow/Trainee 10,000 RA 8,000 TA 6,000 4,000 2,000 0 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 Year Degree Awarded Temporary Residents 9,000 Number of PhD Candidates 8,000 7,000 Other 6,000 Supported Fellow/Trainee 5,000 4,000 RA 3,000 TA 2,000 1,000 0 1982 1984 1986 1988 1990 1992 1994 1996 1998 2000 2002 Year Degree Awarded FIGURE HE-5 Number of PhD candidates supported, by support mechanism and citizenship status, 1982-2003. NOTES: Other: Support from the student’s or scholar’s institution of higher education, state and local government, foreign sources, nonprofit institutions, or private industry; traineeships: educational awards given to students selected by the institution or by a federal agency; research assistantships: support for students whose assigned duties are primarily in research; teaching assistantships: support for students whose assigned duties are primarily in teaching. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Survey of Earned Doctorates 2003. Arling- ton, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004.

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353 APPENDIX D Employment Status of All S&E Doctorates 300,000 Doctorates Employed in Sector 250,000 Academic 200,000 Industry Government 150,000 Other Sectors 100,000 50,000 0 73 77 81 85 89 93 97 01 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 Percent of S&E Doctorates Employed per Sector 70 Doctorates Employed in Sector 60 Academic 50 Industry 40 Government 30 Other 20 Sectors 10 0 73 77 81 85 89 93 97 01 19 19 19 19 19 19 19 20 FIGURE HE-6 Number and percent of employment status of S&E doctorates, by sector, 1973-2001. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Survey of Doctoral Recipients 2003. Arling- ton, VA: National Science Foundation, 2005. Options for the federal government include these: • Establish education and traineeship grants to institutions focused on frontier research areas and multidisciplinary or innovation-oriented studies.7 • Eliminate the employer-employee stipulation in Office of Manage- ment Budget Circular A-21 to encourage the dual benefits to research and education of having graduate students serve as research assistants.8 7Ibid. 8Association of American Universities, Committee on Graduate Education. Graduate Edu- cation. Washington, DC: Association of American Universities, 1998.

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354 RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM To what extent do you agree with the following statement? “My postdoctoral position is preparing me to be an independent researcher.” Percent of Rrespondents 1 = Strongly Agree 100 80 2 = Agree 60 40 3 = Neither Agree Nor Disagree 20 0 Citizen and Citizen and Temporary Temporary 4 = Disagree Permanent Permanent Citizen, US Citizen, Non- Resident, US Resident, Degree US Degree 5 = Strongly Disagree Degree Non-US Degree FIGURE HE-7 Response to postdoctoral survey question on preparation for independent research, by citizenship status and country of degree. NOTE: 22,178 postdoctoral scholars at 46 institutions were contacted, including 18 of the 20 largest academic employers of postdoctoral scholars and National Institutes of Health. Postdoctoral status was confirmed by the institution. 8,392 (38%) responded; 6,775 (31%) of the respondents completed the entire survey, which included over 100 questions. SOURCE: G. Davis. “Doctors Without Orders: Highlights of the Sigma Xi Postdoc Survey.” American Scientist 93(3, supplement)(May-June 2005). Available at: http: //postdoc.sigmaxi.org/results/. • Require institutions applying for federal grants to report on the size, scope, and performance (student completion rates and career outcomes) of their graduate programs to determine whether these programs are meeting the interests of students in preparing them for diverse careers in academe, industry, government, and the nonprofit sector.9 • Provide graduate student stipends competitive with opportunities in other venues.10 • Direct the National Science Foundation to expand its data collection on S&E careers and its research into national and international workforce dynamics.11 Postdoctoral Training For more than 2 decades, an increasing percentage of new PhD recipi- ents have been pursuing postdoctoral study instead of employment after graduation. These experiences broaden and deepen the research and other skills that scientists and other highly trained professionals need to make major contributions to society (see Figure HE-7). Most postdoctoral schol- 9Ibid. 10National Science Foundation, National Science Board, 2003. 11NAS/NAE/IOM, 1995.

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355 APPENDIX D ars are funded by federal research grants (see Figure HE-8) and on average have stipends of under $35,000 per year. However, mentors, institutions, and funding organizations have some- times been slow to give postdoctoral fellows the status, recognition, and 50,000 Number of Postdoctoral Scholars 40,000 Non-Federal Sources 30,000 Research Grants Traineeships 20,000 Fellowships 10,000 0 1983 1985 1987 1989 1991 1993 1995 1997 1999 2001 100 Percent Postdoctoral Scholars 90 80 70 Non-Federal Sources 60 Research Grants 50 Traineeships 40 Fellowships 30 20 10 0 Sciences Sciences Sciences Life Engineering All S&E Social Physical Field FIGURE HE-8 Number and percent of postdoctoral scholars, by funding mechanism and field, 1983-2002. NOTE: Non-federal support: support may be from the institution of higher education, state, and local government, foreign sources, nonprofit institutions, or private industry; research grants: support from federal agencies to a principal investigator, under whom postdoctoral scholars work; traineeships: educational awards given to scholars selected by the institution or by a federal agency; fellowships: competitive awards given directly to scholars for financial support of their graduate or postdoctoral studies. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Survey of Earned Doctorates 2002. Arling- ton, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004.

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356 RISING ABOVE THE GATHERING STORM 36 (thousands of dollars) 34 Median Salaries Citizens and Permanent Residents 32 Temporary Residents 30 28 Life Sciences Science and Physical Sciences and Engineering Mathematics FIGURE HE-9 Median postdoctoral stipend, by field and citizenship status, 2001. SOURCE: National Science Foundation. Survey of Earned Doctorates 2002. Arling- ton, VA: National Science Foundation, 2004. compensation that are commensurate with their skills and contributions to research (see Figure HE-9). Many postdoctoral scholars make substantial economic and familial sacrifices to pursue advanced training, yet they often do not have clearly defined rights, responsibilities, pay scales, access to ben- efits, or procedures for consideration of grievances. To ensure a healthy research enterprise, the postdoctoral experience needs to be improved. The federal government should: • Develop federal policies and standards for postdoctoral fellows supported on federal research grants, including letters of appointment, performance evaluations, benefits and leave, and stipend support. All postdoctoral scholars should have access to health insurance and to insti- tutional services.12 • Help develop creative solutions to the problems faced by dual-career couples so that more US students opt to pursue research careers. • Improve the quality and quantity of the data on postdoctoral work- ing conditions, prospects, and careers.13 Create standards for and require the submission of demographic information on postdoctoral scholars sup- ported on federal research grants by investigators awarded such grants. 12NAS/NAE/IOM. Enhancing the Postdoctorial Experience for Scientists and Engineers. Washington, DC: National Academy Press, 2000. 13Ibid.