Field of degree data are used by the National Science Foundation to study the characteristics of the population with science and engineering degrees and occupations.
Data on field of bachelor's degree were derived from answers to Question 12. This question was asked only to person with a bachelor's degree or higher. Eligible respondents were asked to list the specific major(s) of any bachelor's degree received. This question does not ask for the field of any other type of degree earned (such as master's or doctorate).
An automated computer system coded write-in responses to Question 12 into 192 areas. Clerical coding categorized any write-in responses that could not be autocoded by the computer. Respondents listing multiple fields were assigned a code for each field, with a maximum of 10 fields per respondent.
The majors were further classified into a category scheme detailed in Appendix A.
The field of degree question first appeared in the 2009 ACS. The inclusion of a field of degree question on the ACS was proposed to provide field of degree data annually for small levels of geography and to assist in building a sampling frame for the National Science Foundation's (NSF) National Survey of College Graduates (NSCG).
Because of its introduction in 2009, the 201 field of degree data can only be compared to the 2009 and 2010 ACS survey. This data may be roughly comparable to the National Survey of College Graduates and the National Survey of Recent College Graduates, although the sampling frame and survey instruments differ between the surveys. Field of degree data was also collected in the Survey of Income and Program Participation (SIPP) from1984 to 2004. However, these data would not be comparable to ACS due to differences in data collection period, methodology and collection methods. For example, the SIPP only collects data for respondents who are 15 years and older and does not include group quarters.