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National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG)

While many people are familiar with the United States Census every 10 years as mandated by the Constitution, over 100 different surveys are conducted by the U.S. Census Bureau each year. SBB Research Group summarizes vital information from about these lesser-known—but significant—surveys in this educational series.

What is the National Survey of College Graduates?

Science and engineering capabilities drive innovation and economic growth in the U.S. and form the basis of our competitive advantage. According to the Census Bureau, the U.S. performs the largest share of global research and development (R&D), generates the largest share of R&D-intensive industry output, and accounts for a substantial percentage of science and engineering research articles and citations worldwide. The National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG), sponsored by the National Center for Science and Engineering within the National Science Foundation, is a biennial panel survey that provides data on the nation’s college graduates, focusing on the science and engineering workforce.

The NSCG examines the relationship between college degrees and employment in addition to other characteristics of college-educated individuals, including salary, student loan debt, work activities, and demographic information. The survey evaluates approximately 164,000 college graduates with at least a bachelor’s degree.

How is the Data Used?

The survey data provides essential information about the education and career paths of the nation’s college graduates. In addition, this data is used to make informed decisions about using limited research, education, and job training resources:

  • Government policymakers and labor economists use the data to understand the supply and demand for workers in science and technical fields.

  • Employers in education, industry, and the government look at employment opportunities and salaries to evaluate equal opportunity efforts.

  • University administrators and academic researchers make educational policy decisions and changes to technical and scientific curricula.

Students use the survey to choose a college major or examine career opportunities.

This survey is also included in two congressionally mandated reports exploring trends within the science and engineering workforce: Science and Engineering Indicators and Women, Minorities, and Persons with Disabilities in Science and Engineering,


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