Students enrolled in higher education in Israel follow one of four tracks: studies towards a certificate or diploma, bachelor’s degree studies, master’s degree studies, or studies towards a doctorate (PhD). Students pursuing a doctorate (doctoral students) write a doctoral thesis, upon conclusion of which they receive the title of “doctor.”
During the 2011-2012 academic year there were 10,600 doctoral students in Israel, constituting 4.1% of the population of students in the country for this year. Across the years one can see an increase in the number of doctoral students in Israel: in 2011-2012 they numbered 1.6 times more than they had in 1999-2000, and 2.8 times more than in 1989-1990. At the same time, however, the data indicate that the percentage of doctoral students among all students has remained relatively consistent over the years, at 4-5%.
In terms of gender, the ratio of women among doctoral students during 2011-2012 was 52%. This figure is lower than the percentage of women among master’s degree students (60%) or bachelor’s degree students (56%) for the same year. We observe a significant increase over the years in the percentage of women among doctoral candidates in Israel – from 31% during the 1980s to 39% during the 1990s and 50% during the first decade of the 2000s.
The distribution of students by university indicates that the Hebrew University of Jerusalem has the largest number of doctoral students. Data for 2009-2010 indicate that 25% of doctoral students were enrolled at the Hebrew University, 20% at Tel Aviv University, 17% at Bar-Ilan University, 11% at Ben-Gurion University, 10% at Haifa University, and the remainder at the Technion and Weizmann Institute of Science. At the same time, the data also indicate a decrease in the ratio of Hebrew University students among doctoral degree recipients compared to previous decades – from 37% in the 1980s to 30% during the 1990s and 25% the following decade.
The most popular field of study among doctoral students in Israel (during 2011-2012) was the natural sciences and mathematics (38% of students), followed by the humanities (25%) and social sciences (14%). Among doctoral students at the Hebrew University (according to 2009-2010 data), the most popular fields of study were the biological sciences (24%), social sciences (13%), agriculture (11%), and physical sciences (11%).
Source: Analysis of data from the Central Bureau of Statistics