August 6, 2004 4:00 AM PDT

Brain drain in tech's future?

John Miano's career course is the sort of thing to make tech industry leaders wince and worry about their future work force.

Miano was a programmer who tried for years to get into computer science doctoral programs. Despite earning a "B" average in college and publishing two technical books, he never was accepted. So he took the law school admission test and promptly won a full scholarship to Seton Hall. The result: one less computer scientist, one more lawyer.


What's new:
Every year, fewer people are earning doctoral degrees in science and engineering at U.S. schools. Will American innovation cease? Will foreigners take over? Is the sky falling?

Bottom line:
It might not be a crisis--so far--but some analysts say more Ph.D.s would help keep the country on top. Paying scientists better would be one way to jump-start those doctoral admissions.

Discussion about technology's future in the United States often centers on problems that eighth graders have in algebra. But there also are concerns that the country's universities are churning out fewer tech-related doctorates, and that the numbers may decline further thanks to fewer foreign doctoral degree candidates--who earn a large portion of science and engineering doctorates at U.S. schools.

Two years ago, 24,550 science and engineering doctorates were earned by students attending U.S. universities. That was down from slightly more than 25,500 in 2001 and from a peak of 27,300 in 1998, according to data from the National Science Foundation. More recently, a survey by the Council of Graduate Schools found a 32 percent decrease in applications from international students to U.S. graduate schools for the fall.

Analysts offer different explanations for the drop, ranging from declining interest in the sciences among Americans to a temporary shift in the labor market and to financial disincentives to pursue doctorates in science and engineering.

The trend doesn't worry everyone. Some observers argue that the country already has plenty of Ph.D.s and that a drop in foreign doctorate students isn't cause for alarm. In fact, some view the influx of foreigners as a source of trouble--such as low salaries for scientists and fewer grad school openings for Americans.

But others, including computer industry leaders, defend the use of foreign talent and suggest the drop in doctoral degrees is a sign the country's tech leadership may be in jeopardy. Intel CEO Craig Barrett has weighed in on the issue to say that "the U.S. is basically complacent" about education and research.

The National Science Board, an independent body that advises Congress and oversees the NSF, recently warned of a "troubling decline" in the number of U.S. citizens studying to become scientists and engineers, even as the number of jobs requiring science and engineering training grows.

"These trends threaten the economic welfare and security of our country," the board concluded.

James Foley, chairman of the Computing Research Association and a professor at the Georgia Institute of Technology's College of Computing, sees the drop in doctorates as one of several red flags in the U.S. research system. "We have potentially big problems ahead of us if we don't pay attention," he said.

Not only is Foley concerned about doctoral degree production, he wants an increase in the amount of federal money spent on computer science research. According to a recent analysis by the American Association for the Advancement of Science, all research and development funding agencies in the federal government apart from the Defense and Homeland Security departments face flat funding overall for next year.

History lessons
The idea that the United States isn't preparing enough tech-related doctorates isn't new. In 1989, the NSF warned of a coming shortfall in both Ph.D.s and bachelor's degrees in the natural sciences and engineering.

But critics have dismissed such forecasts as off the mark. "Despite recurring concerns about potential shortages of (scientific, technical, engineering and mathematics) personnel in the U.S. work force, particularly in engineering and information technology, we did not find evidence that such shortages have existed at least since 1990, nor that they are on the horizon," concludes a recent report from the Rand think tank.

Even so, no one disputes the NSF's latest numbers about science and engineering doctorates. Between 1998 and 2002, the number of science and engineering doctoral degrees awarded to U.S. citizens at U.S. institutions fell 11.9 percent to 14,313, according to the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology, a nonprofit research group.

"If we're not leading the charge or at least creating innovation here, we're going to really be up the creek."
--James Foley, professor, Georgia Institute of Technology
The number of doctoral degrees conferred in most other fields remained roughly the same in 2002, and has hovered around 15,400 annually since 1998, the NSF said.

The United States has become more dependent on foreigners for its most-educated positions in science and engineering. Between 1990 and 2000, the proportion of foreign-born people with Ph.D.s in the science and engineering labor force rose from 24 percent to 38 percent, according to the NSF. However, the pipeline of foreign talent has been shrinking. The U.S. State Department issued 20 percent fewer visas for foreign students in 2001 than in 2000, and the rate fell further between 2001 and 2002, according to the National Science Board.

According to the National Science Board, other countries are doing more to attract the best brains to their universities. The board also said increased security restrictions are partly behind a slower pace of visas given to students and science and engineering workers since Sept. 11, 2001. Norm Matloff, professor of computer science at the University of California at Davis, says students from abroad are less drawn to America because the country's job opportunities in technology have withered.

"The overriding reason most foreign students in science and engineering have come to U.S. graduate programs is not the education, but rather the fact that that U.S. education would lead to a U.S. green card, which in turn would lead to a good U.S. job and a nice material living," Matloff said in an e-mail. "In other words, no tech job market, no foreign students."

Is it the money, smarty?
As for why U.S. students aren't going after doctorates as they used to, one need merely follow the money, suggests Eric Weinstein, who has analyzed the issue of high-tech labor for the National Bureau of Economic Research. He says Americans are shunning technology-related doctoral programs because of low wages and poor career prospects. Graduate students in science and engineering can spend five to 10 years earning their doctorates, all the time scraping by on $15,000 to $20,000 annually, he said. Many who earn their degree then end up in postdoctorate research fellowships, which may mean a salary of $30,000.

According to Weinstein, the NSF's own data and analysis indicate that wages for graduate students and doctoratal students have been kept artificially low through immigration rules that allowed for a deliberate "glutting" of the scientific labor force. He estimates that a true market wage for graduate students who teach or do research would be $40,000 to $60,000 per year, while many newly minted doctorates should be earning as much as $100,000.

Weinstein isn't alone in suspecting financial reasons behind Americans' aversion to doctoral programs. A 2000 study from the nonprofit National Research Council found disincentives to pursuing advanced degrees in computer science for U.S. students, at least in the short term. The study concluded that someone taking five years to earn a doctorate in computer science--without having to pay tuition or fees--would need about 50 years to catch up in career earnings with someone who goes to work immediately with a bachelor's degree in the field.

Not everyone agrees that Americans are turning away from science to snag more dough. People "don't go into science and engineering to make a lot of money," said Eleanor Babco, executive director of the Commission on Professionals in Science and Technology. "They go in because they love science and engineering."

Another school of thought holds that overall U.S. doctoral production is related to swings in the economy. According to this view, the recent drop in doctorates may stem from the economic boom of the 1990s, with people choosing better-paying jobs in the private sector over graduate study. Rand analyst Donna Fossum suggested the downturn around 2000 may have prodded would-be workers back into doctorate programs in a similar fashion.

Indeed, NSF data shows that graduate enrollment in science and engineering programs reached a record of nearly 455,400 students in fall 2002, up 6 percent from 2001. Graduate enrollment includes both master's and doctoral students, but the statistic could signal that doctoral production is about to rise, Fossum said. "Were they people that got laid off by AOL and decided to go back to school?"

What's up, docs?
There's also debate about how important those credentials are to the country's future.

Breakthroughs in computing lead to economic growth, said Georgia Tech's Foley. He noted that doctoral students at Georgia Tech are working on problems in information security and the interface between humans and computers. "If we're not leading the charge or at least creating innovation here, we're going to really be up the creek," Foley said.

Industry leaders also proclaim the importance of the doctoral degree. Computer maker Hewlett-Packard, for example, runs a summer intern program that includes about 50 doctorates and doctoral students. The company continues to hire doctorates, especially in its HP Labs research division, said Wayne Johnson, the company's executive director of university relations.

"It's not clear to me that just looking at production of Ph.D.s is a good way of assessing innovation."
--Ron Hira, professor, Rochester Institute of Technology

Some critics, though, doubt the country needs more PhDs. Much of the important work in technology companies can be handled with people with less training, the argument goes, and there are plenty of still-unemployed techies in the U.S. work force. What's more, the annual output of science and engineering bachelor's degrees rose steadily from 303,800 in the mid-1970s to 398,600 in 2000, according to NSF. "It's not clear to me that just looking at production of Ph.D.s is a good way of assessing innovation," said Rochester Institute of Technology public policy professor Ron Hira.

Not surprisingly, what to do about the declining doctoral numbers depends on who's talking. The National Science Board, in its recent report, called for making a priority of high-quality education in math and science.

A number of organizations have called for visa reforms to better welcome foreign students, scientists and scholars. A coalition that includes businesses and trade associations has asked Congress to reform the H-1B visa program, arguing that foreign nationals who have earned master's and doctorate degrees from U.S. universities should be exempt from the program's annual cap.

Hira, though, says H-1B visas have fueled the shift of technology work overseas. He suspects anxiety over science and engineering doctorates is a diversion from the offshoring trend of shifting work overseas. "There's a perception we're in a competitive crisis," he said. "The competitive and innovation (argument) has been introduced by companies that want to take offshore outsourcing off the table."

Programmer-turned-law-student Miano has a radical idea for what to do about computer science doctoral programs: Limit the ability of foreign students to attend programs in the first place. Miano, who founded the Programmers Guild activist group, argues that no more than 5 percent of students in U.S. computer science doctoral programs ought to be foreigners.

"The universities are the creators of this problem," Miano said. "They have preferred foreign students over American students."

Georgia Tech's Foley, however, argued that American students applying to computer science graduate programs aren't making the grade. "There's just not enough well-qualified U.S. students wanting to go to graduate school (in computer science)," he said.

To Weinstein, the key to convincing larger numbers of U.S. students to pursue science and engineering doctorates rather than law or business careers is better pay and career prospects. His own career follows this logic. After earning a doctorate in mathematics from Harvard and a fellowship at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, he went on to a more lucrative job as the director of quantitative research at a financial services firm, Strativarius Capital Management.

Weinstein would boost wages for graduate students and scientists funded by national research institutions such as the National Institutes of Health and National Science Foundation--positions that are likely to be protected from the shift of tech work overseas.

"Pay scientists the six-figure salaries the market is demanding," Weinstein said, "and you will watch people come out of the woodwork in droves."


Join the conversation!
Add your comment
What did they think would happen?
What on earth are these people thinking about? Who's going to work for a master's or doctorate when carpenters and plumbers make far more money then former technology workers.

I don't care if corporations go down the drain they created this mess with all the visas. I'm the vindictive type.

I say let America become a 2nd-3rd tier economy. (If it is not already.)
Posted by waynehapp (52 comments )
Reply Link Flag
There's only one problem...
I agree that the short sighted pursuit of profit
by multinationals that are hollowing out the
United States industrial and engineering
infrastructure is a problem. And very ugly.
But multi-nationals by their nature cross
national boundaries. They don't bear any
particular allegiance to any one country. So
they can harm the country that allowed them
to exist and then move much of their operations
offshore. This has already happened. Over
half of IBM's profits are earned overseas.
We, the workers in the US are left holding the
Posted by (7 comments )
Link Flag
Why would any one want a Ph D in computer science?
Eric Sink writes in a article for MSDN titled Hazards of Hiring - On the other hand, when I see a Ph.D. in computer science, I believe the probability [of a good hire] goes down.

When a Ph D in computer science not only does not give you a salary boost but also significantly REDUCES employment opportunities, is it any wonder people are not obtaining a Ph D?

My best advice for anyone with a Ph D in computer science is to leave it OFF the resume.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
As someone with a PhD in CSC and a former professor, I think it is more useful to get an undergraduate degree in math/CSCS, study some good books (Brooks, Bentley, Stevens, Cormen/Leisersen/Rivest/Stein), and get some experience writing good code to solve real problems.
Posted by (45 comments )
Link Flag
More PhDs
PhD level perhaps a good idea for research. Personnaly
believe that a "professional masters" (2 years beyond BS)
would be more appropriate for industry. Especially in
engineering, comp sci.
Posted by nick fortis (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
WHo can make a living in IT anymore when corporations are dumping jobs overseas as fast as possible?

People go where the money is. It's not in IT anymore. While companies can get good, skilled workers overseas, it is only shifting what people here in america are willing to do.

Some indian might be happy with $8900 / year. But tell me...what american is going to invest heavily in an IT education that results in NO JOB or a very low paying one?

YOu seem to disparage the IT/Programmer who switched to a legal career. I say...GREAT FOR HIM! He's the smart one.

Those of us left in the IT Field, hoping for a turnaround in demand, are the stupid ones. Have you seen the dumping of professional american programmers to there overseas counterparts?

What i wish is for CEOs/board members to have there jobs dumped overseas. Why can't an indian perform those duties?

It all comes down to the golden rule. He who has the gold, rules. And for the rest of us, we're not so stupid as to be willing to invest significant $ in our IT educations only to have no opportunity to earn a decent living.

Maybe that indian is happy with $8900. But i for one cannot afford to pay for my American home, college, and living expenses on $8900.

Over time, as their prosperity rises, the wages will only raise up. One day an equilibrium will be achieved. Perhaps then, investing in an IT Education for an IT career might be worthwhile.

For now, if you are trying to make a career in IT in America, It's a fools errand.
Posted by bubbawny (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
More PhDs
...and perhaps I should learn how to spell! :) naf
Posted by nick fortis (16 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Exactly Right
I have to agree with other commenters: who in their right mind is going to spend 6+ years of their young lives getting ANY kind of degree in science, or especially a computer field, when all the greedy U.S. corporations want to do is ship the jobs offshore? I'll tell you one thing, they sure don't seem to worry that much about money when it comes to PAYING their top executives!
Posted by peartree (10 comments )
Reply Link Flag
What a crock!
"Pay scientists the six-figure salaries the market is demanding," Weinstein said, "and you will watch people come out of the woodwork in droves."

It should read as follows:

"Pay scientists the six figure salaries and you will watch PhD jobs move move to China and India faster than you can say 'PhD'"
Posted by yensoy (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Get a Professional Degree, not a Ph.D.
I am a NASA Engineer. I have a Masters degree in Mechanical Engineering. I cannot see any reason for a person to directly get a Ph.D. There is no financial benefit. (However, I am pursuing one part time, for the hell of it.)
Why is a Ph.D so important with lifelong learning? What ever happened to getting the job done. Wasn't the world's largest software company started by a college drop out?
One another note, I don't this money from the NSF should be allowed to pay foreign graduate students. If the universitied want them, they can pay them without my tax money. This idea is much better than the H1-B cap. (No tax dollars for non citizens.)
The NSF is trying to preserve their little feudal system.
Posted by Tony_I (5 comments )
Reply Link Flag
No Tax Dollars for Noncitizens?
If no tax dollars are to be spent on noncitizens then noncitizens should not be taxed either. But they are. They even have to pay social security taxes even though they have none, and they cannot vote. No wonder some choose to take themselves and their paycheck home overseas.

According to my politics, there should be massive cutailing of funds diverted to the essentially bankrupt public education system. I should not have to pay for somebody's kids' education especially when their parents pay less than I do for it.

All this conversation about declining PhD's in information technology field is nonsense. It is much more appropriate to take this market phenomenon as a STARTING POINT and ask why the value of a PhD in IT has declined. Is it that the product has declined in effectiveness? Is it the market that has changed? Maybe the world has just awakened to the fact that most PhD's just aren't of good quality to begin with.
Posted by Erkut (7 comments )
Link Flag
If there is anyone who really thinks that a corporation will give a working person anything without a fight then they should see me as I have some shares in a dot-com that I could sell them. In the mind of most CEO's the corporation exists for their personal aggrandizement and they will pay workers (janitors or engineers) as little as they can get away with. Carpenters and plumbers realized this long ago. There is only one way to insure any sort of fairness in salaries, a strong union. Until science and engineering professionals realize this, they will continue to be exploited by those "Business Majors" that are running the show.
Posted by Mister C (423 comments )
Reply Link Flag
The problem with all these replies
The problem, is that people are arguing that the salary boost from a Phd is not worthwhile.

Can I just say... DUH!

If you want to make good money, get a job. The PHd is designed to prepare students for a life of research, not productivity. Students with a "B" average should not have an easy entrance into a doctorial program, because we want to promote only the very brightest individuals into positions where they receive government grants (read: public funding) to pursue their ideas.

Personally, I would be very angry to find that my tax dollars are being awarded to sub-standard phd students who are only pursuing a degree for the money.

phd != money in this field. Never has. Never should.
Posted by David Arbogast (1709 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Today is not your lucky day
You must be very angry, then. Most research funding goes to projects with little or no impact. Except to train students (mostly foreign) and pump out several papers about the same topic. There is very little innovation that comes from academia, if at all.

I left academia because I didn't want to be part of this process. Idiots get hundreds of thousands of dollars to implement toy programs of ideas developed 20 years ago. I happens all over, good schools and bad.
Posted by (45 comments )
Link Flag
think about this
myself; male u.s. citizen with a ph.D. in sciences.

most people in the u.s. never realize this but, the average american is no smarter than the average person from china or india. so why or how does he/she command a salary 10X higher? it is because of the very few and very talented inovators (often with ph.D.s) that create new companies and new products that have a high enough margin to pay these high american salaries. these great inovators create companies with great value and they are the ones who should be rewarded. does the average american really think he/she brings such productivity or value to a company to command a 10X salary over his/her rival in a different country? why or how are you able to go to work 9-5 and bring home a large salary (as compared to others in the world)? you just applied for a job sitting in front of a computer and they pay you more than people in china. take google for example: 2 standford ph.D. students create a new company, but with great value. do you think all 2000 jobs created paying $100-200k would be there without them? as soon as america reduces the great influx of gifted entrepreneurs and talent, is the day we begin are slow march to startdard salaries we see throughout the world. i will take a gifted foreign ph.D. who has trouble speaking english, but who creates billions in value for a company versus 1000 average (trained) americans who only know how to apply for a job and do the task in front of their face. these ph.D. often bring new products or services which command huge margins to pay your very high american salaries. think about that.
Posted by phdtriet (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Google is not a great company. It is a great search engine. It is the current darling, but Google won't last.

Besides, I don't think it's founders have PhDs. In fact, name a leading tech company founded by a PhD? Sun? HP? Apple? Microsoft? IBM? PhDs in science and engineering are way overrated in the business world. America produces too many in a fitful dream that they will automagically produce all of this innovation. But America's truly innovators, like Edison and Ford, didn't have PhDs. Simply put, you're incorrect.

For the record, I have a PhD. Sometimes I wonder why I wasted my time.
Posted by (45 comments )
Link Flag
US Vs World
I am somewhat surprised with your level of education and the comments you made.

You are right. Americans are no "smarter" than Chinese, British, Canadians, or put whatever nationality you wish here. To imply such would imply that the Chinese have a different physiological/social makeup than Americans. As far as I know, we are all human and all have the capacity to learn.

I sense a bit of jealousy from some non-US posts. I noticed one that made reference to the US being a "second or third tier economy". It takes an entire European Union and it still doesn't generate as much as the US economy. I can't comprehend how that is a "third tier" economy.

As for Americans and their ability to generate 10x as much as others... well, that's a complex mix. It's the sum of the parts that makes America strong. It's not just about innovation. It's about efficiency too -- such as efficiency to move up and down the supply chain both physically and logically. American's clearly aren't special -- however they do take advantage of productivity improvements set into motion generations ago. They are also motivated and lucky in some respects. American's get paid 10x more because they use capital as a lever to gain efficiency (profits) over their competitors. One person does not make a company and to imply a president or CEO gives thousands of Americans 10x more pay is ignorant of how or why aggregate businesses operates.

As for some posts complaining about science and engineering.... I have a degree in Aeronautical Engineering. It didn't make me rich. It did challenge me and opened doors to other career paths including opening up of an Internet business, a merger, a ten a subsequent change into a totally new job as a manager.

Science and engineering is where the money is. Finance, IT, marketing, etc. fields are all looking for good people with math skills: engineering students have that -- along with the ability to learn.
Posted by EngineeringOps (16 comments )
Link Flag
concerning outsourcing
concerning outsourcing to other nations;

the people who want to end outsourcing are very short sighted. if these same people would be promoted to executive positions the outcome would likely be as follows. great company internal morale in the short term. then, a competitor company opens office next door. this competitor offers the same products or services for exactly 50% of your price. customer chooses competitor company (only logical) and this great short sighted individual with high company morale must start layoff to bring down costs. still insisting to not hire foreign workers, this high morale company eventually closes down business due to lack of profits.

realize the executives of these american companies are greedy, but this is a good thing. their greed is what will make and keep a healthy american company as foreign competition arrives. you may see short term pains as they offshore a small number of jobs (not small if it is your job, i know). but, if they did not do this, in 10 years there may be no company to report to at all. perhaps some american companies are taking offshoring to the extreme, but let the market balance this out, not government reform. never has the government been as efficient as the market. this about that.
Posted by phdtriet (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Oh yeah
I was laid off and had a hard time finding job.
I see many job postings for American companies on craiglist that say "Piority to Visa transfer candidate") or ITT graduates with 'anykind' of degree is preferred")
Where is the fairness to the product of American education system?
Posted by (2 comments )
Link Flag
I love the people that defend off-shoring
I don't see why any american would defend off-shoring. I am an employed NOC employee. But even as being employed I would never support off-shoring. There is always a way to be competitive without off-shoring.

Posted by cpudrewfl (56 comments )
Link Flag
Too far behind
The simple fact is that 1) all the easy research has been done, and redone, the universities are littered with inept people researching the wheel; 2) the university/college world is now so insular that they are at least 10 years behind the industry; 3) They have lost the monopoly on information. No longer do people have to sit for hours in a plodding classroom, forced to buy some over priced, poorly written book of the professor's own dribble. We can now get what info we need, apply it and move on. Why would anyone with half a brain, spend so much time and money to listen to these out of touch bags of wind?
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Work first, then get a doctorate
I have a passion for technology. I have been writing code for over 15 years. I started when I was 10. I missed out on school becuase I was reading programming books and writing code. I was always told I had a gift and I didn't need to go to school. Now I realize that what I really want to do is R&D. But I also want to be able to provide a wonderful life for my family when I have one. I don't want to worry about money issues. I want to be free to focus on what I love.

I'll be enrolling soon. Its easy for people like me to make lots of money very quickly. I've done it before and I'll do it again. This time I know what I really want.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
for those making comments about ph.D.
for those making comments about ph.D.s

silly comments and words to criticize the ph.D.s and perhaps the american university systems are fine, but most people think they understand something about the university systems when they do not. go through one of these programs, finish one of these programs, and then you will understand what you get out of it. silly comments about expensive books just shows you lack the 3D image of an advanced education.

literally close your eyes for a minute ...
and try to explain only in words the color of red to me. now you understand how it is for me to explain this idea to you if you have not seen it before. think about that.
Posted by phdtriet (6 comments )
Reply Link Flag
I have a PhD in computer science, worked at a university research lab, moved to a tenured-track position in an accredited computer science department, got big grants, worked hard (real hard), saw idiots get big grants and not work at all, and left out of disgust for the University system. I contend that little or no innovation in technology comes from academia. Academics are too far removed from the real world to understand real problems. Example, in the world of computer security, many threats originate as buffer overflow vulnerabilities, a problem with a decades old solution. Now, scan the security literature and see how much of it is relevant. People like those in the OpenBSD project are doing something real and meaningful.
Posted by (45 comments )
Link Flag
Who wants a Ph.D. in Computer Science
Lost in the discussion of the need for the Ph.D. in Computer Science [and science and engineering] is the simple fact that Universities need such individuals to educate the BS and MS graduates who will then go out and provide the professional staff for many companies that need talent.

While the top Universities can use graduate students to teach the undergraduates and allow the senior staff to concentrate on research, many of the smaller universities still try to have senior faculty teach undergraduates. To get there you have to compete with peers in other fields who typically have the Ph.D and expect scholarship to be part of the role for faculty.

While individualhold the BS/MS may be at the bleeding edge of the Industry, they are not providing the next generation of talent.
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
Drop the recommendation requirements..
I had a 3.6 GPA from UC Berkeley, wanted to go apply to a PhD program but could not find 3 letters of recommendation from professors. I should have gone to a private / smaller school. I think foreign students have easier time getting into graduate school b/c of higher - translated -GPA and "closer" relationship with their professors to get good recommendation.
Posted by (2 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Why the crazy GPA requirement?
Isn't a Ph.D a research degree? Who says a person who has a C average in college is not smart enough 10 years after graduation. People mature at different rates. Can you say cast system?
By the way. The Ph.D teaching think only happened after Spunik. Before this, you could just have a Bachelor Degree to teach college. This was meant to copy the Russian system of educations. However, most people do not realize that having a Ph.D in Russia and being called "Doctor" in a technical field do not go hand in hand. A Doctor in Russia has ten years of relavent experience in Academic and Industrial problem - Both.
I know exactly what I am talking about. Innnovation is statistically independent of what "higher education level" you have. Usually, the only common attribute is that most have a Bachelor's degree. (But not always.)
If true market dynamics were in play, the price of college would be much lower, because there is a glut of Ph.D's.

Posted by Tony_I (5 comments )
Link Flag
PhD graduates can't find work in US any more
My daughter got a PhD in pure science a year ago and most of her friends who graduated at the same time are still looking for work.

This government has slashed funding for pure research (except, of course, for military applications) and that has left colleges and research organizations unable to hire or even to maintain some existing projects.

Foreign PhD students are finding the continual harassment from government agencies frightening and are electing to pursue their studies back in their home countries. Foreign PhD students aleady in the US are more inclined to return to their home countries to teach. And so it goes round and round.

It is also pure ignorance to place computer science PhDs in the same category as pure science graduates. Technology has its own set of problems which include the decimation of the high technology industry in the US. If youre smart enough to pursue a doctoral program, youre smart enough to avoid a dying field.
Posted by furl12 (50 comments )
Reply Link Flag
Shortage of doctorates - more cash
Any recruitment ploys other than greener fields is nonsense. Of course the Republicans must be dumped first because they want to offshore US technology, thereby strengthening their hold on the US. (No bright people with jobs, no competition for the cash and power)
Posted by (1 comment )
Reply Link Flag
"Why a PhD?" as I understand it
I'm finishing a MS degree in CSC. I'm American also. I'm in a fellowship program that's paying for me to receive that degree and requires that I enter a PhD program as soon as I finish the MS program. This is what I wanted to do anyway.

I decided I wanted to go to grad school because after my 1st internship at a Nat'l Lab, I was exposed to R&D. This was something that I thought I would really love, the ability to choose problems to solves and work on them with resouces to back you and the opportunity to produce things that were useful and not just sit in a journal somewhere. I wanted to work in R&D, I wanted to have my own R&D firm or lab. So I decided that I would need training and I asked myself where could I get this training? Where could I support myself and have available resources while I worked on developing my own ideas. And grad school was the place for that, and here I am. I also see a need in IT and engineering education. My main interests for getting a PhD was industry, but I wanted the option of going into education and training. I would like to be an adjunct while working in the industry. Even though cutting edge research is being carried on in academia, I think students can benefit from someone in industry who can help make all those abstract concepts relevant and more concrete.

An advance degree can and most often times means more options. I can work at national labs, we need more US citizens b/c there aren't many labs that can employ non-citizens esp. in the DOE and DOD. I can go into industry, more than PhD's go into industry than into academia( can't remember the actual number ). And then there's academia. With a PhD, I'm qualified to be instructor at virtually any level. As said earlier, PhD's are important because they help produce people with more AA's, BS's, MS's, and PhD degrees. Not to mention all the managerial and administrative positions that need to be filled by scientists. We need scientists in law, politics, and positions of diplomacy.
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You have never been able to cost-justify a US PhD in industry
>>My main interests for getting a PhD was industry,
>>but I wanted the option of going into education and training.

You seem to be confused by the difference between an MS and a PhD. A PhD is not simply a bigger and better MS or BS. It is designed for an entirely different type of career.

Industry consumes very few PhDs. Business requires mostly associate degrees, BSs and a limited number of MSs and MBAs. For the kind of work done by corporations, a PhD is overkill: Youll never justify the cost in either dollars or years. (This is slightly different from Europe, where a doctorate takes fewer years and is consequently nearer to an American MS.)

Universities and other research organizations require few  and a steadily decreasing number  of PhD graduates. That is a measure of the maturity of the field. We no longer need armies of researchers working on faster chips or cleverer programming languages  either in North America or Europe or Asia.

Its always been true that people going on to take PhD have been at the mercy of fluctuating government funding. An American PhD takes 5-6 years, which is longer than a presidential term. Although it was heartless and stupid of the current government to have cut high technology research funding so much and so quickly, the long term prospects in this particular field are poor regardless of who wins the next election.
Posted by furl12 (50 comments )
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Not making the grade *laugh*
I find that statement all to close to home.

The problem with technology related programs is that they only exist at the top schools, well out of financial reach of most tax buried americans.

For example I come from the middle income america. I attended a University in northern west virginia in computer science. After paying roughly 17,000 per year in tuition not to mention books, hardware, etc...I found that the tech programs were a joke. I attended assembly classes that did not write a single program. I attended programming language classes that taught languages that are long since dead. I attended database classes that used off-the-wall programs that have no market for employment. After 3 years into the program they were audited and lost their accredidation. I was all to happy because I was one of many students that wrote letters to have their program re-evaluated. Then it happened the words "students not making the grade" appeared in the newspaper as a statement from the University president who stated "We are not losing the program. The program was just too hard and not generating enough graduates who can make the grade."

In the University charter it stated that any student that is unable to finish a program due to program termination would receive tuition reimbursement for the program effected.

The University answer to this impending loss was "graduated early termination" in which they would close entry into the program and close classes starting at the bottom and work their way up. Anyone that could not out run the early termination was removed from the program for "lack of progess". Well guess what, I was terminated after the first round because academic advisors had a lot of students skip the freshman courses due to demand and lack of available spots so that we could pick them up as seniors and would have priority over entrants.

These were the first classes to go and me along with them.

SO I transfer to a nearby University that claimed they would give credit for everything I had done so far and would likely graduate on time.

After spending 2 years there my transfer credits were denied because of the outcome of the previous program and I would have to start over and retake 70% of the curriculum.

At this point I was running out of financial aid after having most of it sucked up by the first University and I chose to grab a MIS 4 year by cramming it into 2 years.

My education at the University level in tech related courses was a joke even at the second university. I found professors that literally taught from " for dummies" books and were not able to answer advanced questions or even propose challenging projects.

I taught myself from many long hours of product manuals and API white pages. I have a personal library with close to 450 books in it that I have purchased over the years to learn it as I go.

For 8 years in college and $61,000.00 in school loans that hound me for $500.00 a month in payments I have a job market that would rather send my job to india because its cheaper.

So why would anyone, given the current job market and the pitiful wages, want to further their education in computer science?

I work from temp contract to temp contract barely making enough to cover living expenses and juggling deferments hoping the market changes.

The current pay rate for a B.S. Computer Engineering where I live is about 20 - 25K a year without benefits. Most jobs wont even give you an interview if you dont already come from a 20 year background in IT with a fortune 500 company and willing to take a 40K a year paycut.

If I had the money id change fields too. I love IT. I love tech but you cant survive in capitalist america off of the love of your career.
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