Another Study Raps Ph.D. Overproduction

Shirley M. Tilghman At a meeting right after Labor Day, Princeton University's molecular biology department surveyed the plans of its recently graduated seniors, and professor Shirley M. Tilghman wasn't happy with the results. Thirty-one out of 72 students awarded bachelor's degrees last June were going to medical school, eight planned to do community-service work--and only three were heading directly for Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. programs. Recalling the meeting, Tilghman notes that the cohort of do

Douglas Steinberg
Oct 1, 2000


Shirley M. Tilghman
At a meeting right after Labor Day, Princeton University's molecular biology department surveyed the plans of its recently graduated seniors, and professor Shirley M. Tilghman wasn't happy with the results. Thirty-one out of 72 students awarded bachelor's degrees last June were going to medical school, eight planned to do community-service work--and only three were heading directly for Ph.D. or M.D.-Ph.D. programs.

Recalling the meeting, Tilghman notes that the cohort of doctoral wanna-bes has never topped 10 percent of graduates. But she describes this year's yield as the worst ever. "It worries me because the future of science needs these kids opting to do science," she says. "And they're not opting to."

A new 120-page report from the National Research Council (NRC) helps explain why. "Addressing the Nation's Changing Needs for Biomedical and Behavioral Scientists" (www.nap.edu/books/0309069815/html) is the 11th in a series of reports since 1975...

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