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February 10, 2003
Volume 81, Number 6
CENEAR 81 6 pp. 31-42
ISSN 0009-2347


Between July 1, 1999, and June 30, 2000, a total of 1,052 institutions of higher learning in the U.S. and Puerto Rico graduated 14,289 new chemists—10,390 with bachelor’s degrees, 1,909 with master’s, and 1,990 with Ph.D.s.

All of these totals are reasonably high by historical standards. However, they all represent continuation of a downward drift over the previous several years. And all are substantially below their all-time highs.

Of the 1,041 institutions producing bachelor’s degree chemists, the University of California, San Diego, had the most, with 108 graduates. Of 293 schools granting master’s degrees in chemistry, Harvard University was the most prolific, with 36 graduates. And with 51 graduates, the University of California, Berkeley, topped the ranking of 197 Ph.D.-producing schools.

These are the basic findings about chemistry from the latest versions of two annual surveys of degrees awarded in all disciplines by postsecondary institutions in the U.S. The data on bachelor’s and master’s graduates are from the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) of the Department of Education. The data on Ph.D. degrees are from the National Science Foundation.

Among other things, the two surveys also quantify the striking progress by women in recent years, not only in chemistry—where they account for 47% of 1999–2000 bachelor’s graduates, 43% of master’s, and 31% of Ph.D.s—but also in all disciplines, including the sciences in general.

For example, the number of women bachelor’s graduates in the physical sciences rose from 5,208 for the 1990–91 class to 7,607 for the 1999–2000 class. Over the same period, the number of male graduates actually fell slightly, from 11,199 to 11,020. Overall, women accounted for 80% of the 1990–91 to 1999–2000 increases in the numbers of bachelor’s degrees awarded both in all disciplines and in all sciences.

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