Degrees and employment. The number of bachelor’s degrees in physics awarded by US institutions continues its upward trend. And the percentage of new physics PhD recipients in the US taking postdocs has recently dropped, with a corresponding rise in the percentage accepting potentially permanent jobs.

In 2008, 5769 physics bachelor’s degrees were awarded in the US, up 58% since 1999. Non-US citizens earned 6% of those degrees, compared with 35% and 53% of physics master’s degrees and PhDs, respectively, in 2008, the most recent year for which data are available.

The percentage of physics bachelor’s degrees earned by women has stayed at about 22% over the past decade. African Americans and Hispanic Americans each account for just 3% of the degrees.

Among PhD recipients from the classes of 2007 and 2008, 56% took postdoctoral positions, 7% took other temporary jobs, and 33% accepted potentially permanent jobs.

Median starting salaries...

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