According to NSF’s Survey of Federal Funds for Research and Development, in 2010, the federal government spent $3.3 billion on grants for basic and applied research in geoscience. The majority of this investment was spent on projects in the environmental sciences.
In 2013, there were 10,265 geoscience faculty and researchers employed at U.S. four-year universities, compared to 10,213 in 2011 and 10,051 in 2008. Approximately 72% of the geoscience faculty are tenured and 14% are untenured but in tenure-track positions. The other 14% are the researcher scientists, adjunct professors, and lecturers working at four-year universities.
According to the U.S. Department of Education, in 2011, enrollments at two-year colleges were 16% African American, 19% Hispanic, and 2% Native American/Native Alaskan, whereas enrollments at four-year institutions were 14% African American, 10% Hispanic, and 1% Native American/NativeAlaskan. While total enrollments are higher at four-year institutions compared to two-year colleges, many underrepresented minorities start their post-secondary education at two-year colleges.
The number of degrees being awarded to women has generally continued to increase through time. The percentage of degrees awarded to women has not declined like enrollment, and the total number of degrees are rising at all levels.
The number of women enrolled as undergraduate geoscience majors continued to increase, and at the graduate level remained largely steady. Given the recent trend of lower percentages of female participation, we decided to present the data to see if the absolute number of females was also decreasing.
Enrollments in U.S. geoscience programs remained robust during the 2012-2013 academic year. Though total enrollments retreated from their 2011-2012 highs, the drop in enrollments was less than 3%. The current enrollment trend likely reflects the strong employment outlook for geosciences relative to the continued weak U.S. job market.
Accurate data on the enrollments and completions of underrepresented minorities in geoscience degree programs can be difficult to acquire. The most commonly used source is data provided by the Department of Education through their Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).
Attendance at U.S. field camps reached 2,973 students in 2013, which was a 5% increase from 2012. Attendance was reported by 102 of the existing 124 field camps, however, not every camp is held every year and data many not be reported on a regular basis.
AGI’s National Geoscience Student Exit Survey measures the relevant experiences in school and the immediate career plans upon graduation of recent geoscience degree recipients. In spring 2013, AGI distributed this survey nationally and received 428 responses from 71 geoscience departments. This Currents examines the results from questions focused on the information about students’ employment in the geosciences.