Research in Higher Education

, Volume 48, Issue 8, pp 909-940

First online:

Foreign-born academic scientists and engineers: producing more and getting less than their U.S.-born peers?

  • Elizabeth A. CorleyAffiliated withSchool of Public Affairs, Arizona State University Email author 
  • , Meghna SabharwalAffiliated withSchool of Public Affairs, Arizona State University

Rent the article at a discount

Rent now

* Final gross prices may vary according to local VAT.

Get Access


The Chronicle of Higher Education recently reported that the number of doctoral degrees awarded in the U.S. rose 3.4 percent in 2004, largely because of an increase in foreign students [Smallwood (2005). Doctoral degrees rose 3.4% in 2004, survey finds. The Chronicle of Higher Education, December 9, 2005]. Currently, 20.9 percent [National Science Board (2003). The science and engineering workforce realizing America’s potential. NSB, vol. 3, National Science Foundation] of all science and engineering faculty positions at U.S. universities are held by foreign-born scientists (with even larger percentages in computer science and engineering)—and we can expect higher numbers of foreign-born faculty at U.S. universities in the future. In this paper, we use 2001 Survey of Doctorate Recipients (SDR) data from the National Science Foundation to compare productivity levels, work satisfaction levels and career trajectories of foreign-born scientists and U.S.-born scientists. The results indicate that foreign-born academic scientists and engineers are more productive than their U.S.-born peers in all areas. Yet, average salaries and work satisfaction levels for foreign-born scientists are lower than for U.S.-born scientists.


science policy publication productivity scientific productivity research policy foreign-born work satisfaction survey