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Women Earning More Doctoral Degrees Than Men in U.S.

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For the first time, women have earned the majority of doctoral degrees awarded in the United States, according to the annual survey of U.S. graduate enrollment and degrees conducted by the Council of Graduate Schools.

In the 2008-9 academic year, 50.4 percent of doctoral degrees were awarded to women, a finding that the survey said reflected larger trends in higher education. Over the past 10 years, the annual rate of increase for doctoral and master’s degrees awarded to women has been consistently greater than that for men.

In addition, women earned 60 percent of all master’s degrees awarded in the 2008-9 academic year, continuing to lead in that category.

The majority is not consistent across all doctoral disciplines: women earned only 22 percent of degrees in engineering, and only 27 percent of math and computer science doctorates. However, women represented 60 percent in the social and behavioral sciences, 67 percent in education, and a full 70 percent of doctoral recipients in the health sciences — the field which also showed the greatest one-year increase in applications overall. It is also the first year in which women earned the majority of doctoral degrees in the biological and agricultural sciences.

At the same time, the rate of increase in graduate enrollment was greater for men (5.2 percent) than for women (4.4 percent), breaking a long-term trend. But those numbers are not a harbinger of a larger trend, said Nathan Bell, director of research and policy analysis at the council. They indicate simply that “men are not abandoning graduate education,” he said.

The economy likely played a role in last years’ results, Mr. Bell said, with the recession having a particularly significant impact on men’s decision to pursue graduate education. Ultimately, “it really wasn’t a surprise” to see women earn more doctoral degrees than men this year, Mr. Bell said: looking at the data over the past decade, “it was bound to happen.” While the rate of increase may perhaps not be as steep as in the past, Mr. Bell predicts that “women will continue to earn the majority of doctorates” in the coming years.

Overall for graduate programs in 2008-2009, first-time enrollment was up 5.5 percent, while total enrollment was up 4.7 percent. Internationally, however, first-time enrollment fell to 16.5 percent from 18 percent.


New school at Oxfordaims to train future leaders

Politically speaking, it has been a good year for the University of Oxford. After the British elections in May, the university saw nine of its alumni enter the cabinet — including the prime minister, David Cameron — and at least 117 take up their seats as members of Parliament. But now Oxford is hoping to expand on its reputation as a boot camp for British politicians by introducing its new Blavatnik School of Government.

Supported by a donation of £75 million, or $118 million, from the industrialist Leonard Blavatnik, the school will be the first major institution of its kind in Europe and aims to “become the world’s leading center for the training of future leaders in government and public policy,” the university’s chancellor, Chris Patten, said in a statement.

The institute will be accepting its first students in 2012, and those on the course can expect a program that covers everything from law and democracy to public health and the environment.

The project, which is being launched Monday, is intended to appeal to a deliberately global market as it looks to challenge American dominance in the realm of political training. — EMMA CRAIG


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