US Graduate Enrollment in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Declines

By far the largest graduate engineering discipline is computer, electrical and electronic engineering, and in 2014, 71% of those enrolled were temporary residents. By 2018 though, full-time foreign nationals doing graduate degrees had declined to levels last seen in 2013.

Full-time graduate enrollment in electrical engineering and computer science programs at U.S. institutions has decreased substantially from its high in 2016, according to newly released annual data from the National Science Foundation (NSF). The new data from 2018 show total enrollees in these disciplines was 92,603, which was flat from the level in 2017 but down from the total of more than 101,000 in 2016.

One noticeable shift in the 2018 enrollment was the continued annual decrease in foreign national students, along with a noticeable uptick in U.S. citizens and permanent residents. In fact, the 2018 foreign nationals total of 68,361 was the smallest since 2013. The below table shows the five-year annual totals for full-time graduate students in electrical engineering and computer sciences at U.S. institutions, as well as the breakdown by U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.

While the increase in U.S. graduate students in electrical engineering and computer science programs at U.S. institutions is welcome, the decrease in overall students in these fields is concerning. To maintain global semiconductor industry leadership and ensure America wins the worldwide race to develop and implement the technologies of the future, the U.S. needs a highly skilled workforce, and that starts with attracting the best and the brightest, both in the U.S. and from abroad, to study electrical engineering and computer science. This is a key policy theme underscored in SIA’s policy Blueprint.

The new annual numbers are based on analysis of data in NSF’s annual Graduate Students and Postdoctorates in Science and Engineering Survey and specific data provided to SIA by NSF.

Source: Semiconductor Industry Association

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