The American University: National Treasure or Endangered Species?

By Ronald G. Ehrenberg | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 4
Graduate Students:
Too Many and Too Narrow?

Marye Anne Fox

DISCUSSIONS CONCERNING WHAT constitutes the optimal number of students in a graduate program are usually raised in the context of economic stress and the difficulties that new science, mathematics, and engineering graduates with advanced degrees now face in finding suitable employment. This situation has prompted high-level officials in the Clinton administration to characterize the underemployment of people with Ph.Ds as one of the biggest social problems in the United States.

Although unemployment was low—about 1.6 percent— among 1993 science, mathematics, and engineering graduates six months after receiving their degrees, according to the most recent survey of doctoral recipients, 1 even this figure was much higher than the average in the previous decade. The same survey also cites the rather stunning statistic that 50 percent of recent graduates with bachelor's of science degrees in science and engineering are employed outside their fields and 24 percent of the

____________________
1
Science and Engineering Indicators ( Washington, D.C.: National Science Foundation, 1996).

-100-

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