Number of Blacks Earning Doctorates Declined in 2010

Preliminary data from the National Science Foundation shows that in 2010, 2,002 doctorates were awarded at U.S. universities to Blacks or African Americans. This is down from 2,231 in 2009. This is a decrease of slightly more than 10 percent.

Part of the decline is the result of a reclassification of earned doctorates in the field of education. In 2010, educational doctorate programs at 77 universities were reclassified from research doctorates to professional doctorates. Beginning with 2010, the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates will not include doctorates from the reclassified Ed.D. programs. In past years, about 35-40 percent of all doctorates awarded to African Americans were in the field of education. So, undoubtedly, some of the decrease in Black doctorates in this year’s survey is the result of the reclassification.

But not all the drop can be attributed to the reclassification of some educational doctorate programs. In 2010, there were 903 doctorates awarded to Blacks in science and engineering disciplines. This was down from 951 in 2009. This is a decrease of slightly more than 5 percent.

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  1. As a 61 yearl old African American male who’s currently working on my doctorate-Ed.D. Executive Leadership. My dissertation is titled: Understanding Internal and External Support Systems: Keys to Black Males Earning Their Doctorate.
    When will people wake up and relaize the value that a brother like me can bring to both academia and practice? The program I’m enrolled in is accelerated-28 months start to finish. We are required to do course work, write and defend a traditional dissertation, minimum of 50 hours field experience, take and pass three comprehensive exams. All the components of the traditional Ph.D. programs. However, I also have 35 years of services in my profession. In 2013 when I have my doctorate conferred I will be just as proud as anyone else who made the investments ( i.e. financial, mental, emotional, etc.). My instincts tell me, just as it often happens when “We” get involved in such endeavors somehow there are “those” who look to devalue them.
    Thanks for letting me rant! With all of my experience I still have difficulty getting work as an adjunct professor! One would think living in the New York City area that would be an easy task, I’m here to tell you its not. Perhaps, there are “other reasons” why we are kept out of the college/university classrooms.
    Keep up the great work all of you wonderful people @ JBHE

    Doctoral Candidate/Scholar-Practitioner in waiting
    Charles Richburg

    • Mr. Richburg,

      You are to be commended for your determination. I am working on my EdD in Higher Education Leadership in an online program. A doctorate is hard work, whether online or the traditional classroom. I do not take any program lightly.

      Just call me Dr. Whitaker when I finish….

      Congratulations in advance, Dr. Richburg!

      Aretha Whitaker, Capella University

      • Hello Dr. Whitaker,
        If any thing I’ve said or written has inspired “One Person” the Universe rejoices!!
        Hopefully by now you have completed your doctoral journey!

        Wishing you the very best of everything!!

        Charles Richburg, Ed.D.

    • Mr. Richburg

      Your comments were inspirational. I am a 61 African American female who made a decision not to give up on obtaining a doctorate a few weeks ago. Successfully completing a terminal degree takes commitment, hardworking and a support system. Since your comment was posted a year ago, I know that your are very close to receiving your degree.

      Best of luck to you.

      Jennie Pollard

  2. Not surprised. Getting a PhD is not like getting a Masters. It takes more of an investment of time and money. Online Doctoral Programs are few and are usually not good. I would not even waste my money on them. I am seriously looking to get my PhD but not in Education. Because of this my options are very limited. The closest university to me that offers PhD in what I want is 2 hours away. No way I would be able to work full-time and go to school. 🙁

    • KJ,
      One must be careful to not “over generalize.” The quality of one’s doctorate degree is not unlike purchasing an automobile, an educated consumer conducts his/her research before committing. This approach works well for those who’re interested in pursuing a doctoral level education.

      Wishing you the very best of everything, always!

      Remember: One of the first casualties of Reason is Emotion. We must not become too emotional when its comes to improving ourselves in any area of our existence.

  3. Hello KJ,

    I beg to differ with you that an online degree is a waste of time. I attend Walden University, an online university, and I can tell you that the curriculum and instructors are comparable to most brick and morter schools. One of my previous instructors graduated from Harvard. Having worked in a previous Ph.D. program prior to this, I can truly say that the work is equally demanding. The real major difference in Ph.D. and Ed.D., my program, is the amount of research you do and perhaps the amount of residencies you attend. Yes you do have the comprehensive exams. However,since my program is more research intensive, I don’t see a major difference other than the amount of time to completion. You need to do some more homework as lots of schools are now offering online courses.


  4. I recently graduated from Northern Caribbean University, Mandeville, Jamaica, with a Ph.D. in Educational Leadership. I commenced my doctoral studies in 2008, and was conferred on August 12th, 2012. The title of my dissertation was “The Academic Achievement and Social Success of Black Males at Selected Middle Schools in Bermuda.”
    My fellow colleagues, please understand that the doctoral process is a very taxing and demanding task, and rightfully so. I started in a cohort of 16. After the first year about 8 members dropped out, and to date only two people have graduated from our cohort thus far!
    There were many nights when I studied from 6:00 p.m. after work, until 6:00 a.m. the next morning; showered for work for the day, and did it all over again. As a result of the inordinate amount of hours of nightly studies, I ruptured a blood vessel in my eye; also, my father passed away while I was in the process of writing Chapter 4 of my dissertation. I was so overwhelmed and did not know if I would graduate on time; It was tough! My father’s passing was a major setback for me, but with the help of God, a wonderful wife on my side, and a dynamic dissertation chair-Dr. Elsie Jackson, I was successful.
    I encourage all those who desire to pursue a terminal degree to embrace the process, be clear of your educational goals, give back to your community, and continue learning after the doctoral process has culminated. Always honor the doctoral process by doing your best work and remaining committed to impacting the lives of others. Earning the title “Dr.” is an honor, but should not define who you are. Be proud of your accomplishments, but always walk in humility.
    I wish you all great success in 2013.
    Dr. John E. Duncan

  5. I can personally attest to Dr. Richburg’s dedication, expertise, ethics and compassion, having had the pleasure and privilege of working with him during his tenure as Director of the Town Court Drug Program, where his professionalism and genuine caring helped many young men and women to overcome their demons. Dr. Richburg has been an inspiration to the community at large.

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