Blacks Making No Progress in Physics Faculty

AIP_American_Institute_of_PhysicsA new report from the American Institute of Physics finds that African Americans are making no progress in increasing their percentage of faculty in the field of physics. The report found that in 2004, Blacks made up just 2.0 percent of the physics faculty members at U.S. colleges and universities. By 2008, there was slight improvement to 2.2 percent but since then there has been a slight reduction back to 2.1 percent.

The report determined that there were 190 Blacks teaching in physics departments at colleges and universities nationwide. About half of African-American physics faculty members are employed by physics departments at historically Black colleges and universities, which account for only 4 percent of all physics departments. Half of all African-American physics faculty members work at just 23 departments at HBCUs.

The full report, African Americans & Hispanics Among Physics & Astronomy Faculty: Results from the 2012 Survey of Physics & Astronomy Degree-Granting Departments, was authored by Rachel Ivie, Garrett Anderson, and Susan White. It may be downloaded by clicking here.

Related Articles


  1. A couple colleagues and I were discussing the issue of a person with a doctorate in engineering or physics from an HBCU obtaining a tenured track position at one of the top U.S. universities. The three of us teach at California public universities in engineering and we believe that it would be very difficult for an HBCU doctoral graduate to obtain a tenured position at a top U.S. university in engineering and/or physics. Since there is not enough space to go into detail here we hope your readers will continue the dialogue on this subject.

    • What is the difficulty HBCU graduates will have? Are you suggesting that the graduates are not adequately prepared or they will be discriminated against simply because of the institution they attended?

  2. For the commenters–most black PhDs earn their doctorates at predominately white institutions. I agree that it has been difficult for those who earned their doctorates at hbcus to land tenure track positions–I don’t think that’s unique to any race or gender. It is hard for any new PhD in physics to secure a tenure track position. Many are doing 3+post docs.

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Higher Education Grants or Gifts of Interest to African Americans

Here is this week’s news of grants or gifts to historically Black colleges and universities or for programs of particular interest to African Americans in higher education.

American Students Studying Abroad in Sub-Saharan Africa

In the 2021-22 academic year, there were 4,614 American students who studied at universities in sub-Saharan Africa. This is about one tenth of the number of students from sub-Saharan Africa studying at U.S. universities.

Marcus L. Thompson Named the Thirteenth President of Jackson State University

Dr. Thompson has more than 20 years of leadership experience in early childhood, K-12 education, and higher education. He has been serving as the deputy commissioner and chief administrative officer of the Mississippi Institutions of Higher Learning, where for over a decade he has been responsible for overseeing IHL staff.

U.S. Public Schools Remain Separate and Unequal

Approximately 522,400 students, or 1 percent of overall student enrollment, attended public schools where fewer than half of the teachers met all state certification requirements. Of the students attending those schools, 66 percent were Black and Latino students.

Featured Jobs