Higher education institutions in the United States train many of the world’s scientists, engineers, and skilled technical workers. The number of S&E certificates and degrees that U.S. institutions awarded increased between 2012 and 2021, as did the share of all certificates and degrees (except doctoral degrees) that were in S&E fields. Internationally, the United States is among the leading producers of S&E degrees but is no longer the top producer of either S&E first degrees or doctoral degrees. However, U.S. colleges and universities remain a top destination for S&E students from outside the United States, as evidenced by the rapid increase in international S&E graduate student enrollment since a low point during the first year of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Demographic diversity in some S&E fields has increased over the past decade. As of 2021, women earned more than 50% of S&E awards in the agricultural and biological sciences, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary sciences, psychology, and social sciences. On the other hand, women remained underrepresented among award recipients in such fields as engineering and computer and information sciences. American Indian or Alaska Native, Black, and Hispanic individuals were also underrepresented, although the percentage of S&E awards that they collectively earned increased at every award level between 2012 and 2021.