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Stay Rates of Foreign Doctorate Recipients

ORISE staff monitor how well U.S. does at attracting and retaining foreign scientists and engineers

International scientists in a laboratory

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) analyzes labor trends to assess the degree to which the nation’s science education programs are contributing to the development of a highly-qualified, scientific and technical workforce.

How ORISE is Making a Difference

Michael Finn, senior economist at ORISE, oversees preparation of biennial stay rate reports that document the tendency of foreign students receiving doctorates in the United States to remain in this country and pursue their careers.

“In many fields of science and engineering, foreign students make up the majority of doctorate recipients,” Finn said. “Universities, research labs and other high-tech employers have become dependent on these scientists and engineers.”

The most recent Stay Rates of Foreign Doctorate Recipients report (PDF, 146 KB), released in January of 2014, found that 68 percent of foreign citizens who received science or engineering doctorates from U.S. universities in 2006 continued to live in the United States in 2011.

By tracking stay rates every two years, ORISE is able to estimate the degree to which these talented professionals, trained in part through ORISE Science Education Programs, are continuing to choose to stay in the U.S. and contribute to technological advancement in this country.

The 2011 stay rate for all foreign doctorate recipients, including those on permanent visas at graduation, was 68 percent for those graduating five years earlier, and 65 percent for those graduating 10 years earlier.

“Since there’s only a small decline in stay rates in the first five years after graduation, one could assume that foreign doctorate recipients from U.S. universities are finding regular employment in the U.S. even after completing postdoctoral appointments,” Finn said. “There was a slight decline in the 10–year stay rate; however, nearly two–thirds stayed in the U.S. after 10 years.”