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Research by Science and Engineering Discipline


The information below contains detailed information on federal investments in research across disciplines. The federal government has historically invested in a broad range of research activities in the physical, life, social, and environmental sciences, in mathematics and computing, and other disciplines. In recent years, life sciences research — particularly at NIH, which enjoyed a budget doubling through 2003 — has come to take up a major share of the federal portfolio. The America COMPETES Act was originally passed in 2007 as an attempt to boost funding for the physical sciences agencies to “catch up” with NIH, though the results have been mixed.

Current data on federal support for research by science and engineering discipline are collected by the National Science Foundation’s National Center for Science and Engineering Statistics (NCSES), particularly their Federal Funds for Research and Development data series, which is the major source for many of the charts and data below. These data can have often a lag time of two years or, in the case of detailed subfield information, up to four years. If you have questions about any of the material you see here, contact us.


Series Chart Data Last Update
Total by Discipline, 1970 – 2017 JPG Excel June 2019
Disciplines by Share of Total, 1970-2017 JPG Excel June 2019
Disciplines by GDP, 1970-2017 JPG Excel June 2019

Disciplines and Subfields

Series Chart Data Last Update
Mathematical / Computer Sciences JPG    
Environmental Sciences JPG    
Physical Sciences JPG    
Life Sciences JPG Excel June 2019
Psychology JPG    
Social Sciences JPG    
Engineering JPG    

Funding by Agency

Series Chart Data Last Update
Dept. of Agriculture JPG    
Dept. of Commerce JPG    
Dept. of Defense JPG    
Dept. of Energy JPG    
Dept. of Health and Human Services JPG    
Dept. of Homeland Security JPG    
Dept. of the Interior JPG Excel June 2019
Dept. of Transportation JPG    
Dept. of Veterans Affairs JPG    
Environmental Protection Agency JPG    
National Aeronautics and Space Administration JPG    
National Science Foundation JPG    


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