The Flight from the Arts and Sciences: Trends in Degrees Conferred

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Science  26 Oct 1990:
Vol. 250, Issue 4980, pp. 517-521
DOI: 10.1126/science.250.4980.517


After rising steadily between 1954 and 1968, the percentage of all bachelor's degrees awarded in the arts and sciences declined dramatically. These swings cannot be explained by demographic variables; however, they have been affected by changes in the academic profiles of educational institutions that were in turn related to trends in enrollment. Even more important have been the changing choices of fields of study made by men and women (particularly in the case of the humanities), in part as a consequence of widening opportunities for women. The flight from the arts and sciences now appears to be over, and in the future gender-related variables can be expected to have less impact on the distribution of degrees conferred.

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