The National Science Foundation (NSF) produces the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) which is designed to obtain data on the number and characteristics of individuals receiving research doctoral degrees from U.S. institutions. The results of the survey are used to assess trends in Ph.D. production. Educational and labor force planners within the Federal Government and in academia use this information frequently. As a relatively new sponsor of the SED, the USDA has developed an active program for the utilization of data from the SED in its planning and information dissemination activities. The USDA has developed a list of discipline areas in which it has particular concern, analogous to the subsets developed by the National Science Foundation and the other sponsors, and has requested trend tabulations on doctorate recipients in these fields. Data collected in the SED is used to evaluate how widespread these programs and fields are in the United States. Data is also used in the evaluation and planning of 1890 Land Grant and Tribal College programs.

Subject Areas

This extract of the SED covers fields of specialties that were identified as relevant to the agricultural scope of Higher Education Programs. The data covers doctorate completion dates of fiscal years 1985-2005.

Data Collection

The population for the SED consisted of all individuals receiving a first research doctorate (second doctorates are not included) from a U.S. academic institution in a 12-month period. Survey instruments were mailed to institutional coordinators in the graduate schools who distributed the survey forms to individuals receiving a research doctorate. The institutional coordinators also collected the forms and returned them to the contractor for editing/processing. Follow-up of missing critical items and forms is also conducted. Since the survey collects a complete college education history, coding of institutions is very important. Because one-third of doctorate recipients from U.S. universities are from foreign countries, a coding manual for foreign institutions of higher education was developed by the U.S. Department of Education. Since this is a census, no estimation techniques, are used. Also, there is no sampling and consequently no sampling variability.

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