Statistics Canada
Symbol of the Government of Canada

Study: Science and engineering doctorates

Warning View the most recent version.

Archived Content

Information identified as archived is provided for reference, research or recordkeeping purposes. It is not subject to the Government of Canada Web Standards and has not been altered or updated since it was archived. Please "contact us" to request a format other than those available.

The Daily

Monday, April 16, 2007

The supply of PhDs plays an increasingly important role in determining Canada's ability to compete in the emerging global knowledge economy. According to a new study, there were 100,000 employed PhDs in 2001, of which 57,000 were science and engineering doctorates.

The study, using 2001 Census data, examines the labour market characteristics of Canada's stock of scientists and engineers based on their major field of studies and highest degree obtained.

Of the 100,000 total employed doctorates in 2001, 47,000 were born in Canada while 53,000 were foreign-born. Of the Canadian-born PhDs, 22,000, or 46% were science and engineering doctorates, while the rest had doctorates in other fields.

Two-thirds of the 53,000 foreign-born employed doctorates held PhDs in science and engineering fields. The foreign-born doctorates could have immigrated after or before obtaining their PhDs.

Nearly 23,000 immigrants with PhDs came to Canada between 1991 and 2000, double the amount of those who arrived between 1971 and 1990. The ratio of two immigrant science and engineering PhDs for every one immigrant non-science and engineering PhD in 1991 increased substantially to five to one by 2000.

Asia, and in particular China and India, have become the major source of foreign born PhDs since the beginning of the 1980s. Proportions from the United States and United Kingdom, the two dominant sources prior to 1981, have been declining. The US share went from a high of 24% over the 1971 to 1980 period to a low of 6% over the 1991 to 2000 period, while China's share went from a low of 2% to a high of 25% over the same time periods.

Men still continue to dominate the Canadian PhD landscape. The proportion of female doctorates was 27%, an improvement of 15 percentage points over the past 25 years. The study found that female doctorates were under-represented, especially in science and engineering, and particularly in the engineering field where they were less than 1 in 10.

Kingston and Ottawa–Hull proportionately had the highest concentration of science and engineering PhDs in Canada's largest labour markets, followed by Saskatoon, Victoria and Sherbrooke.

In the largest labour markets, Victoria and Halifax had on average the oldest employed science and engineering doctorates, whereas Toronto, Montréal, and Québec had on average younger employed science and engineering doctorates.

The study revealed that there was a 10 percentage point decline in the proportion of PhDs who were university professors, from 34% in 1986 to 24% in 2001, despite a 93% increase in the total number of PhDs over the same time frame.

Definitions, data sources and methods: survey number 3901.

The report "Where are the scientists and engineers?" is now available as part of the Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division Working Papers (88F0006XIE2007002, free) series from the Publications module of our website.

For more information, or to enquire about the methods, concepts or data quality of this release, contact Michael McKenzie (416-973-8018; or Louise Earl (613-951-2880;, Science, Innovation and Electronic Information Division.