II-21c: Shares of All Master’s and Professional Degrees Awarded in Selected Academic Fields, 1987–2015

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Data System; accessed via the National Science Foundation’s online data system, WebCASPAR. Data analyzed and presented by the American Academy of Arts Sciences’ Humanities Indicators (

See the Note on the Data Used to Calculate Humanities Degree Counts and Shares and the Note on the Definition of Advanced Degrees. Through 2009, many advanced degrees in the health sciences were classified by awarding institutions not as “first professional” degrees (the way in which the National Center for Education Statistics [NCES] required M.D.’s be classified) but as doctorates. With the elimination by NCES of the generic doctoral degree category in 2010, institutions began classifying such degrees as “professional practice” doctoral degrees, which the Humanities Indicators includes in its master’s degree and professional degree counts. This change in the classification of health sciences doctorates is partly responsible for the observed increase after 2009 in the medical and health sciences’ share of master’s and professional degrees.

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