May 26, 2022

Updated Data: Advanced Degrees in the Humanities Released by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences

The updated data  below was released today by the American Academy of Arts & Sciences/

Humanities programs awarded 5,891 doctoral degrees in 2015—the largest number ever recorded (in data that extend back to 1987). The large disciplines experienced only a slight decline (English) or an increase (in history and languages other than English).

While, from a historical perspective, the number of degrees conferred is high, humanities doctorate completions are not growing as quickly as those in other academic fields. As a result, the share of all doctorates awarded by the field in 2015 (8.7%) was nearly 2.5 percentage points below the recent high recorded in 2000 (11.1%). Since the turn of the 21st century, much of the growth occurred in the shares of doctoral degrees conferred by the health/medical sciences and engineering fields. The natural sciences also awarded a larger share of doctoral degrees.

The 28,253 humanities master’s degrees awarded in 2015 marked the third consecutive year of declines, and an 11% reduction from the recent high (in 2012). The humanities awarded 3.5% of all master’s and first professional degrees, the lowest level recorded in three decades of available data. Similar to the trend among bachelor’s degrees, the health/medical sciences and engineering fields experienced substantial growth in the number and share of degrees.

The shares of advanced humanities degrees awarded to traditionally underrepresented minorities were near the highest levels on record (accounting for 14.9% of master’s degree recipients and 10.5% of PhDs), but below the share of all degree recipients at each level.

The share of advanced humanities degrees awarded to women peaked in the first decade of the 21st century and remained fairly stable up to 2015, when women earned 61% of all master’s degrees in the humanities and 54% of the doctoral degrees in the field.

Direct to Complete Udpdate (Report, Charts, Data Files) (August 2017)

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.