Results of the 2014 ASBMB annual graduation survey

Women and men received an equal number
of baccalaureate and graduate biochemistry degrees



Further analysis of the 2014 ASBMB graduation survey revealed that four schools may have reported incorrect numbers of American Indian or Alaskan Native graduates. As ASBMB Today has no means of independently validating their self-reported answers, it is possible that fewer American Indian or Alaskan Native students received biochemistry and/or molecular biology degrees in 2014 than was reported.

The American Society for Biochemistry and Molecular Biology has surveyed baccalaureate and graduate programs in biochemistry and molecular biology since 1999. The 2014 graduation survey was sent to more than 800 biochemistry programs across the U.S., and 133 programs participated. The survey collected information on the institutions, the degrees they awarded and their graduates’ demographics.

Most of the respondents worked at primarily undergraduate institutions. Respondents working at research-intensive institutions or medical schools comprised a much smaller percentage.

Of the 133 programs that participated, 109 submitted information on the types and number of degrees they awarded in 2014. The majority of the programs awarded degrees in biochemistry, and they were primarily baccalaureate degrees. The survey did not request information on interdisciplinary programs (e.g., biochemistry/molecular biology), which likely were lumped into biochemistry or molecular biology.

Women received slightly more biochemistry, molecular biology or chemistry (biochemistry track) master’s and doctoral degrees than men in 2014. Men received slightly more baccalaureate degrees. The survey did not request data on postdoctoral fellows or tenure-track faculty members, but other surveys show that the number of women declines after graduate school (See Hill et al, 2010 and Shen, 2013).

The survey also requested race and ethnicity data for 2014 degree recipients. Students of American Indian or Alaskan Native background received 2.3 percent of biochemistry-related degrees, although they comprised only 1.2 percent of the U.S. population, according to U.S. census data. Even when the data are broken out by degree type, a greater percentage of American Indians and Alaska Natives received biochemistry-related baccalaureate and doctoral degrees than would be expected based on the U.S. population. Data on master’s degrees was too limited to draw any conclusions. This difference did not seem to be driven by geography, as only 13.6 percent of the surveys were received from states in the West, as defined by the census, which had the highest number of residents identifying as American Indian or Alaska Native. The data are promising, but greater participation in the survey will be necessary to confirm this statistic, as only 72 institutions provided data on students of American Indian or Alaska Native backgrounds.

No programs reported a Hispanic Ph.D. recipient in 2014. However, the ASBMB survey size was not large enough to draw any conclusions about that statistic. Out of 3,368 reported degrees awarded in biochemistry, molecular biology or chemistry (biochemistry track), only 180 were doctoral degrees. In addition, the majority of surveys came from primarily undergraduate institutions.

The ASBMB is in the process of developing the 2015 graduation survey. If you are a program director or department chair and would like to participate in the survey, please email

Erica Siebrasse Erica Siebrasse is the education and professional development manager for ASBMB. Follow her on Twitter.