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Undergraduate Enrollment Rates Rise in Health Physics, Survey Says

June 20, 2007

OAK RIDGE, Tenn.—The number of college students enrolled in undergraduate health physics programs continues to increase, according to a survey of the 30 U.S. universities with health physics programs conducted by Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE).

With 2005 and 2006 undergraduate enrollments triple that of enrollments in 2000, more students are graduating with majors in health physics, the survey reported. Although the number of health physics graduates at the bachelor’s level in the 2005-2006 academic year decreased slightly, the number – 71 – was still well above the number reported between 1998 and 2004.

In addition, the number of health physics graduates at the master’s level – 90 – was the largest since 1999, while the number of doctorate degrees granted – 12 – remained at the lowest level reported since ORISE began the survey in the mid-1970s.

Data on post-graduation employment and other activity was also collected and found that continued study was, by far, the largest post-degree activity for both bachelor’s and master’s levels. Also at the master’s level, employment in medical facilities was a large employment source.

Among the 30 academic institutions offering programs in health physics, Purdue University granted the most degrees – 26 – in the 2005-2006 academic year.

ORISE has collected and/or monitored data on enrollments and degrees in science and energy-related fields of study for the U.S. Department of Energy and other federal agencies since the mid-1970s.

“We have a 30-year history of gathering this type of data across many different career fields. It’s a capability that allows us to provide depth and breadth to the findings,” said Wayne Stevenson, ORISE director of science education programs, the group that compiles statistical information to assess workforce trends.

The survey of health physics enrollments and degrees, includes degrees granted between September 1, 2005, and August 31, 2006, and fall 2006 enrollments. The survey, located on the ORISE Web site, includes tables showing:

  • the number of health program graduates (bachelor’s, master’s, and doctorates) each year since 1998
  • 2006 health physics degrees by curriculum (health physics or medical physics)
  • 2006 post-graduate plans in 13 categories for each degree level
  • 2006 health physics degrees by academic institution.

The Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) is a U.S. Department of Energy institute focusing on scientific initiatives to research health risks from occupational hazards, assess environmental cleanup, respond to radiation medical emergencies, support national security and emergency preparedness, and educate the next generation of scientists. ORISE is managed by Oak Ridge Associated Universities.

ORAU provides innovative scientific and technical solutions to advance national priorities in science, education, security and health. Through specialized teams of experts, unique laboratory capabilities and access to a consortium of more than 100 major Ph.D.-granting institutions, ORAU works with federal, state, local and commercial customers to advance national priorities and serve the public interest. A 501(c)(3) nonprofit corporation and federal contractor, ORAU manages the Oak Ridge Institute for Science and Education (ORISE) for the U.S. Department of Energy (DOE).

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