Most new graduates in Earth and space sciences find satisfying work in their field


WASHINGTON - The vast majority of 2003 graduates in the Earth and space sciences found work in that field, earning salaries commensurate with or slightly higher than in 2001 and 2002. This was a key finding in the annual survey of recent Ph.D. recipients conducted by the American Geophysical Union and the American Geological Institute.

The study, reported in this week's issue of Eos, the AGU newspaper, covered 180 Earth and space science Ph.D. recipients who received degrees from U.S. universities in 2003. The survey asks graduates about their education and employment, their efforts to find their first job, and their experiences in graduate school.

Key results from the 2003 report include:

  • The vast majority (87%) of the 2003 graduates found work in the Earth and space sciences, earning salaries commensurate with or slightly higher than in 2001 and 2002. Most (64%) of them were employed in academia (including postdoctoral appointments), with the remainder in government (19%) , industry (10%), and other (7%) sectors. Most graduates were positive about their employment situation and found that their work was challenging, relevant, and appropriate for someone with a Ph.D.

  • The number of Ph.D. recipients accepting postdoctoral positions (58%) increased slightly from 2002. In contrast, the fields of physics and chemistry showed significant increases in postdoctoral appointments during the same period.

  • As in previous years, recipients of Ph.D.s in the Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences are slightly older (median age of 32.7 years) than Ph.D. recipients in most other natural sciences (except computer sciences), which is attributed to time taken off between undergraduate and graduate studies.

  • Women in the Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences earned 33% of Ph.D.s in the class of 2003, surpassing the percentage of Ph.D.s earned by women in chemistry (32%), computer sciences (20%), physics (19%), and engineering (17%). Participation of other underrepresented groups in the Earth, atmospheric, and ocean sciences remained extremely low.

The survey was conducted by the Statistical Research Center of the American Institute of Physics. The AGU/AGI report draws on results from eight prior AGU/AGI surveys of Ph.D. classes (1996-2003), as well as data from the National Science Foundation Survey of Earned Doctorates.

Source: Eurekalert & others

Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 21 Feb 2009
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