1. 1 Most of the detailed data presented in this report are from the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG). Individuals with associate’s degrees as their highest degrees are not included in the NSCG survey sample. Therefore, they are not included in references to “degrees” or “degree holders” in the context of this report, unless otherwise specified.

  2. 2 Many comparisons using Census Bureau data on occupations are limited to looking at all S&E occupations except postsecondary teachers because the Census Bureau aggregates all postsecondary teachers into one occupation code. National Science Foundation (NSF) surveys of scientists and engineers and some BLS surveys collect data on postsecondary teachers by field.

  3. 3 The data on self-employment from the National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG) include those who report being self-employed or employed by a business owner in an unincorporated or incorporated business, professional practice, or farm. As a result, the data may capture self-employed individuals in their own businesses and those whose principal employer is a business owner. This is a major reason why the NSCG estimate of self-employed workers in S&E occupations is higher than those from other surveys (e.g., the Census Bureau’s ACS).

  4. 4 Those with faculty rank may conduct research (e.g., research faculty, scientist, associate, fellow, postdoc) and hold an administrative position (e.g., president, provost, chancellor) or teach (e.g., teaching and adjunct faculty).

  5. 5 From Frascati Manual 2015: Guidelines for Collecting and Reporting Data on Research and Experimental Development (, accessed 19 February 2019), the term R&D covers three types of activities: basic research, applied research, and experimental development. Here the term R&D includes the activity of design.

  6. 6 The other 10 activities are used to define 4 additional broad categories of primary or secondary work activities: teaching; management and administration; computer applications; and professional services, production workers, or other work activities not specified.

  7. 7 The unemployment rate for scientists and engineers was estimated using data from the NCSES National Survey of College Graduates. The BLS civilian unemployment rate for people ages 16 years or older, not seasonally adjusted, is available at (accessed 15 November 2018). Seasonally adjusted rates are available at (accessed 22 July 2019).

  8. 8 The Current Population Survey is the source of the official U.S. unemployment rate.

  9. 9 At the doctorate level, 2015 and 2017 differed from earlier years shown here. The SESTAT data incorporated data from the SDR, which correspond to the doctor’s research/scholarship degree level and are research-focused degrees. The NSCG data used for 2015 and 2017 cover all doctorates regardless of type

  10. 10 All earnings reported are in current dollars.

  11. 11 Although the formal job title is often postdoc fellowship or research associate, titles vary among organizations. This report generally uses the shorter, more commonly used, and best-understood name: postdoc. A postdoc is generally considered a temporary position that individuals take primarily for additional training—a period of advanced professional apprenticeship—after completion of a doctorate.

  12. 12 Three NSF surveys—the Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR), the Survey of Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering (GSS), and the Early Career Doctorates Survey (ECDS)—include data related to the number of postdocs in the United States. The three surveys overlap in some populations (such as U.S.-trained doctorate holders and those working in academia) but differ in others. For instance, the SDR covers U.S.-trained postdocs in all sectors—academia, industry, and government—whereas the GSS and the ECDS cover both U.S.- and foreign-trained doctorate holders in academia and federally funded research and development centers, which may be run by for-profit or nonprofit businesses, and the National Institutes of Health (NIH) Intramural Research Program, which is in the government sector. Therefore, postdocs in the industry and government sectors may be missed. In addition, the titles of postdoc researchers vary across organizations and often change as individuals advance through their postdoc appointments; both factors further complicate the data collection process (NIH 2012). Because the SDR covers only U.S.-trained individuals, it substantially undercounts postdoctoral researchers, most of whom were trained outside the United States. To present more complete counts of postdoctoral researchers, this report uses counts from the GSS, which include foreign-trained postdocs employed in U.S. higher education institutions.

  13. 13 These data are from the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), which is administered to individuals receiving research doctoral degrees from all accredited U.S. institutions.

  14. 14 See the Technical Appendix for more information on the methods used to define these additional occupations and the total list of occupations included in the STW.

  15. 15 The U.S. Office of Management and Budget (OMB) set standards for the collection of data on race and ethnicity. NCSES uses the OMB standards and guidelines to define Asians and Native Hawaiians or Other Pacific Islanders. These are two distinct racial groups, and the report analyzes them separately. OMB defines “Asian” as A person having origins in any of the original peoples of the Far East, Southeast Asia, or the Indian Subcontinent, including, for example, Cambodia, China, India, Japan, Korea, Malaysia, Pakistan, the Philippine Islands, Thailand, and Vietnam and “Native Hawaiian or Other Pacific Islander” as A person having origins in any of the original peoples of Hawaii, Guam, Samoa, or other Pacific Islands. For more information on how NCSES defines racial and ethnic groups according to OMB guidelines, see (accessed 23 May 2019).

  16. 16 Minority-serving institutions (MSIs) play a prominent role in training black and Hispanic scientists and engineers. In 2016, approximately 15% and 46% of S&E bachelor’s degrees earned by blacks and Hispanics, respectively, are from historically black colleges and universities and high Hispanic enrollment institutions (NCSES WMPD 2019Table 5-8 and 5-9). Between 2013 and 2017, about 37% of Hispanic doctoral graduates earned their bachelor’s degree from high-Hispanic enrollment institutions, and a quarter of blacks earned their bachelor’s degree from historically black colleges and universities.

  17. 17 Salary differences represent estimated percentage differences in women’s reported full-time annual salary relative to men’s reported full-time annual salary as of February 2017 and in whites and Asians relative to all other races and ethnicities, respectively. Coefficients are estimated in an ordinary least squares regression model using a natural log of full-time annual salary as the dependent variable. This estimated percentage difference in earnings differs slightly from the observed difference in median earnings by gender and race and ethnicity because the former addresses differences in mean earnings rather than median earnings.

  18. 18 Included are 20 NCSES-classified field-of-degree categories (out of 21 S&E fields), 38 NCSES-classified occupational categories (out of 39 categories), 6 NCSES-classified employment sector categories (out of 7 categories), years since highest degree, and years since highest degree squared.

  19. 19 The estimates for doctoral degrees in the “controlling for education and employment” category and for doctoral degrees and master’s degrees in the “plus demographics and other characteristics” category are not statistically significant at the 90% confidence level

  20. 20 For example, marital status, the presence of children, parental education, and other personal characteristics are often associated with salary differences. These differences reflect a wide range of issues, including (but not limited to) factors affecting individual career- and education-related decisions, differences in how individuals balance family obligations and career aspirations, and productivity and human capital differences among workers that surveys do not measure.

  21. 21 In addition to the education- and employment-related variables, the following indicators are included in wage regression models: nativity and citizenship, marital status, disability, number of children living in the household, geographic region (classified into nine Census Bureau divisions), and whether either parent holds a bachelor’s or higher-level degree. The gender regression controls for racial and ethnic minority status, and the race and ethnicity regression controls for gender.

  22. 22 The estimates for doctoral degrees in the “controlling for education and employment” category and for doctoral degrees and master’s degrees in the “plus demographics and other characteristics” category are not statistically significant at the 90% confidence level.

  23. 23 Foreign born is a broad category, ranging from long-term U.S. residents with strong roots in the United States to recent immigrants who compete in global job markets and whose main social, educational, and economic ties are in their places of birth. When interpreting data on foreign-born workers, the range of individuals in this category should be kept in mind.

  24. 24 All college graduates and overall population data are for employed individuals ages 25 or older from NCSES calculations using ACS 2017 Public Use Microdata Sample data.

  25. 25 For all types of temporary work visas, the actual number of individuals using them is less than the number issued. For example, some individuals may have job offers from employers in more than one country and may choose not to foreclose any options until a visa is certain.

  26. 26 The J-1 exchange visitor visa is used for many different skill levels.

  27. 27 The H-1B program allows companies in the United States to temporarily employ foreign workers in occupations that require the theoretical and practical application of a body of highly specialized knowledge and a bachelor’s degree or higher (or its equivalent) in the specific specialty. H-1B specialty occupations may include such fields as science, engineering, and information technology.

  28. 28 However, precise counts of H-1B visas issued to individuals in these occupations cannot be obtained because the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services does not classify occupations with the same taxonomy used by NSF.

  29. 29 For a particular graduating cohort of foreign-born noncitizen S&E doctorate recipients, the proportion of that cohort who report living in the United States a given number of years after receiving their degrees is an indicator of the cohort’s stay rate. For example, 10-year and 5-year stay rates in 2017 refer to the proportion of 2007 and 2012 graduating cohorts, respectively, who reported living in the United States in 2017. To reduce the standard error of the estimates, a 3-year average was used to calculate the long-term stay rates. For example, the 10-year stay rate was based on the pooled proportion of the 2006, 2007, and 2008 cohorts who reported living in the United States in 2017.

  30. 30 Stay rates from 2001 to 2011 are from Finn (2014) and are based on data obtained from the U.S. Social Security Administration. Stay rates for 2013, 2015, and 2017 are calculated using data from the Survey of Doctorate Recipients. They are based on an average from 3-year cohorts to reduce the error of the estimates.

  31. 31 This question is part of the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED), which is administered to individuals receiving research doctoral degrees from all accredited U.S. institutions. For information on the SED, see The information on plans to stay or definite commitments to stay reflects intentions in the year after graduation as reported by the doctorate recipients around their graduation date. Therefore, any changes in intentions after survey completion are not captured.