Let me pull out the bits which struck me as most significant.
Sciences rule A clear majority of PhDs are for science and engineering, led by the life sciences. The humanities are minor, as are the social sciences and education.
Education in particular has taken a hit (see below, too). Here’s the IHE breakdown:
Job markets are iffy A sizable and growing proportion of newly minted PhDs can’t find work. That’s across the disciplines. The adjunct pools are being well fed, it seems. Here’s the IHE tabulation:
Some racial progress The number of blacks and Latinos winning doctorates looks like it’s rising, which is a very good thing. Not so good on native Americans.
Internationalization Foreign students continue to win PhDs, especially in the sciences.
In 1994, 29% of all S&E doctorates were awarded to temporary visa holders. The proportion of S&E doctorate recipients holding temporary visas increased to 41% by 2007 but has since fallen to 37% in 2014.
Over the period 2004 to 2014, 85% of the doctorates earned by temporary visa holders were in S&E fields, compared with 66% of the doctorates earned by U.S. citizens and permanent residents…
Gender Paralleling the rise of women as undergrad students and BA/BS holders, women are winning larger shares of PhDs, especially American women:
Women are becoming increasingly prevalent in each new cohort of doctorate recipients, earning a majority of all doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents each year since 2002 and earning one-third of all doctorates awarded to temporary visa holders over that period. Overall, women earned 46% of all doctorates in 2014. [emphases added]
Debt PhDs are expensive, and America’s decision to financialize higher education continues here, with more and more debt piling up. Note that education doctorates tend to have the largest sums owed:
Family academic background Increasingly PhD holders come from families with significant academic achievement. First-generation students make up a shrinking proportion of doctorates:
To sum up: nothing earthshaking here. The STEM fields continue to grow. American higher ed is increasingly international. Women, blacks, and Latinos are making incremental progress. Debt is enormous, and job prospects are iffy.