The Price of a Science Ph.D.
Variations in Student Debt Levels Across Disciplines and Race/Ethnicity
A recent report from AIR's Center for STEM Education & Innovation found that financing a Ph.D. in a science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) field or in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences (SBE) results in high levels of debt. This was particularly true for SBE Ph.D. recipients and for underrepresented minorities. Among recipients in both the SBE and STEM fields, African American females were the subgroup that was most likely to accrue this extreme level of graduate student debt when examining the intersection of race/ethnicity and gender.
The findings emphasize the need to effectively communicate to students the various options for financing graduate school studies so they can make informed decisions when they receive offers from graduate programs. The authors conclude that if increasing the numbers of STEM and SBE PhDs, and particularly broadening participation among underrepresented minorities, is to remain a national priority, the policies and practices that aim to support students in financing their education need to be examined.