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Women Edge Past Men in Getting Doctorates

Women are outnumbering men in doctorate degrees
Women are outnumbering men in doctorate degrees

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In the United States, about six out of ten students in graduate schools are women. The same is true of today’s young adults who already have a degree beyond college. As a result, the Census Bureau expects that more women than men will hold professions such as doctors, lawyers and professors.

Men had faster growth rates than women in going to graduate school in 2009. Still, women earned 60% of the master’s degrees. That was the level of about 90% of all the graduate degrees awarded.

But a new report says the 2008-2009 academic year marked a change. Women also earned 50.4% of the doctorate degrees. The Council of Graduate Schools says this was the first year ever that women earned more doctorates than men.

The largest share of all doctorates that year - 42% – were in education, engineering, and biological and agricultural sciences. But the report says between 1999 and 2009, graduate enrollment increased in all subjects. The fastest growth was in health sciences, business and engineering.

In 2009, graduate schools reported strong growth of 6% in first-time students from the United States. But enrollment of new international students decreased by about 2% -- the first drop since 2004. The share of foreign new students in graduate schools fell from 18% to 16.5%.