Characteristics of Doctorate Recipients in STEM Majors and Their Early Labor Market Transition

The demand for doctors who major in STEM is expected to grow with new technologies such as AI and big data and the rise of new industries, as such human resources are considered future growth engines. Consequently, research needs to be performed to identify their individual characteristics and transition into the labor market. Doctoral students in the STEM field tend to be full-time students and attain their degrees at a relatively younger age compared to their non-STEM counterparts. Full-time STEM doctoral students tend to decide on their career paths earlier than non-STEM doctoral students in terms of their early transition into the labor market from the viewpoint of employment. Female doctoral students in STEM majors are more likely to continue their study or become researchers, although in general doctoral students in STEM majors and those with non-STEM majors did not show any meaningful difference. Full-time doctoral students in STEM have a generally higher level of income compared to their non-STEM counterparts, with discrepancies depending on their majors within the STEM field. The number and income of foreign doctoral students in the STEM field are relatively low compared to other majors. This signifies that measures need to be taken to attract more foreign students and encourage their settlement in Korea.