Geoscience Enrollments & Degrees Continue their Sharp Rise in 2009-2010

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During the 2009-2010 academic year, the number of geoscience undergraduates enrolled in U.S. institutions has continued to increase sharply, hitting its highest levels in a decade at 23,983 majors. This is a 7% increase over 2008-2009 enrollments, and a 24.8% increase since the 2006-2007 academic year. For the first time in 5 years, graduate geoscience enrollments increased, jumping 15.7% from the prior academic year. These increases in enrollments are likely linked to continued high prices in commodities and oil, improved recruitment of students to the geosciences, and, for graduate enrollments, the perception of a negative job market. This perception drives undergraduates into graduate programs, even though geoscience employment opportunities remain robust.

U.S. Geoscience Enrollments (1955-2010). Source: American Geological Institute, Directory of Geoscience Departments, April 2010.

The number of geoscience degrees being conferred by U.S. institutions in the 2009-2010 academic year has increased markedly. The number of Bachelor’s degrees conferred increased by 7% from the prior year, and the number of graduate degrees also increased (3% at the Master’s level and 6.2% at the Doctorate level). The increases in degree production are likely tied to prior growth in undergraduate enrollments and the poor state of the economy that is encouraging graduate students to complete their studies at a higher rate rather than seek employment prior to receiving their degree.

View an in-depth discussion of this information in the corresponding Geoscience Currents Discussion Webinar.

U.S. Geoscience Degrees Granted (1973-2010). Source: American Geological Institute, Directory of Geoscience Departments, April 2010.

Date updated: 2010-04-27
Data Brief 2010-004
Written by Christopher Keane for AGI, April 2010

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