The number of women enrolled as undergraduate geoscience majors has leveled off, at least temporarily, at both graduate and undergraduate levels. Increased enrollment continues to be driven by growth in the number of men enrolling at both undergraduate and graduate levels. The shift in these gender-related trends is believed to be related to the rapid growth in the oil and gas industry with individuals seeking career opportunities to work in the field.
In AGI's and AAG's Geoscience Career Master's Preparation Survey, faculty were asked how prepared they feel their Master's students are regarding 28 non-technical competencies. Students were asked how much preparation they've received in their Master's programs for these non-technical competencies, and non-academic professionals were asked how important these are to employment in their current positions. Of the 28 competencies, the following graphs show trends in five selected non-technical competencies.
The Geoscience Career Master's Preparation Survey listed 22 different aspects about Geology and Geography Master's degree programs and asked how satisfied faculty and students are with these items. Overall, Geology and Geography students indicate they are "Satisfied" or "Very Satisfied" with faculty. This includes the amount of contact they have with professors (79% Geology and 74% Geography), as well as students being satisfied with the overall quality of instruction (66% and 72%, respectively).
AGI's and AAG's survey asked faculty how often their Master's advisees in Geology or Geography programs secure different types of positions post graduation. Students were asked how likely they were to consider these career choices . Non-academic professionals, whose highest degrees are Master's, were asked which best describes their current positions. Academia includes employment within K-12, 2-Year colleges or 4-year institutions, government positions include local, state, tribal or federal and the private sector includes industry or self-employment.
The Geoscience Career Master’s Preparation Survey by AGI and AAG inquired about Master’s students‘ career goals and what influenced those goals. Looking across Geology programs, some students’ most common career goals include working in the private sector, in teaching, education or diversity, and aspiring towards management positions. In Geography departments, Master’s students are looking to pursue teaching or education careers, work in the GIS field, or pursue industry careers in general.
The American Geosciences Institute (AGI) and the Association of American Geographers (AAG) received funding from the National Science Foundation (NSF) to investigate non-doctoral preparatory Master’s programs in Geology and physical Geography. The graph below depicts eight commonly identified reasons why students decide to enroll in a Master’s program.
Enrollments in U.S. geoscience programs remained robust during the 2013-2014 academic year. Enrollments continued its long-term growth trend with 6% and 4.5% increases for undergraduate and graduate enrollments, respectively. The continued growth likely reflects the strong employment outlook for the geosciences relative to the continued weak U.S. job market, though the drop in oil prices in late 2014 may impede some of that near-term growth.
Recent discussions have focused on the current and future job market for science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) graduates, and AGI has received multiple requests for comparisons between the geoscience workforce and the STEM workforce.
Recent geoscience graduates were asked to describe their greatest challenge to completing their degree. The table highlights the most cited challenges by students, along with the percentage of graduates that faced the challenge and example comments from students. Thirteen percent of graduates either did not respond to the question or did not feel they faced a major obstacle while working towards their degree.