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Research and Development Expenditures at College and Universities Double in Decade

July 28, 2005

Research and development (R&D) expenditures at colleges and universities reached more than $40 billion in FY03, doubling the R&D expenditures from FY93, according to data from the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Research and Development Expenditures at Universities and Colleges.  According to the study, fiscal years 2002 and 2003 experienced the fastest growth rate in R&D expenditures since FY 1985-86.

Federal funds continue to fuel the majority of the growth. The federal share of support for academic R&D grew 13 percent from FY02 to FY03 and now totals $24.7 billion or 62 percent of the total funding. Institutional funding provides the largest source of non-federal funding, followed by support from state and local governments. 

For the first time, the survey provides information on the source of federal support by federal agency. The largest federal source of funding was the Department of Health and Human Services (HHS), primarily through the National Institutes of Health. HHS provided $10.9 billion of the federal funding for academic R&D in FY03. Not surprisingly, the medical sciences and biological sciences combined accounted for half of all R&D expenditures during FY03. 

Also for the first time, the survey reported funding information for research fields outside of science and engineering. Of the $1.37 billion in non-science and engineering R&D expenditures, the majority ($597 million) supported education research.

The National Science Foundation has released an InfoBrief with the major findings of the survey. The detailed tables and full report will be available at a later date.