What Shortage? Engineering Degrees and Graduate School Enrollment Are at Record High Levels
There's a critical shortage of scientists and engineers in the United States, right? We hear that all the time, and that's what I thought. Until I checked the data.
According to Department of Education data, there was a record high number of engineering degrees granted in 2008 (most recent year available, see chart above), a total of 126,612 (83,853 bachelor's degrees, 34,592 master's, and 8,167 doctor's), which is an increase of more than 18 percent from 2002. Bachelor's degrees in engineering are down from the peak years of 1984-1987, when more than 90,000 students were graduating with undergraduate engineering degrees, but graduate degrees have increased dramatically - Master's degrees in engineering have doubled since 1981 and doctor's degrees have doubled since 1987.
Data for enrollment in graduate engineering programs show a similar upward trend, with a record high 131,676 graduate engineering students in 2007 (most recent year available, see chart). With record high graduate enrollment, there should be a continuation of the ongoing increases in engineering graduate degrees.
If you do a Google search for "shortage of engineers," the top links are for articles with titles like "There is NO Engineering Shortage," "What Shortage of Scientists and Engineers?", "Study: There is No Shortage of U.S. Engineers," and "Scientist Shortage? Maybe Not."
So I guess I'm coming late to the discussion here, but this is my contribution to the myth-busting about the mythical "engineering shortage."