A 2015 report card that tallies up the number of graduate students and postdoctoral appointees (postdocs) in science and engineering fields in the U.S. was released this month.
The annual survey by the National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics reports that while the total number of postdocs remained steady in 2015, there were significant shifts in the composition of postdocs in science and engineering sub-fields. Most notably, there has been a significant decline in biological science postdocs (13.7 percent) from 2010-2015 that have been offset by increasing numbers in other fields including earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences which grew by 18 percent (389 postdocs). The report also shows that the total number of science and engineering graduate students at U.S. academic institutions continued a decade-long growth trend with a 2.7 percent total increase, much of which comes from foreign students on temporary visas (nearly 5 percent increase last year). In contrast to postdoc trends, the number of graduate students in earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences decreased by 1.7 percent in 2015 and 1.5 percent decrease from 2010 to 2015.