The Large Gender Gap in Degree Attainments Among African Americans

Last week a JBHE post reported on the racial gap in degree attainment in the United States. Now we report on the gender gap in degrees and awards earned by African Americans.

The report from the U.S. Department of Education shows that during the 2015-16 academic year, African Americans earned 570,354 degrees and certificates at degree-granting institutions in the United States. Of these, 65.3 percent were earned by women. Nationwide for all races and ethnic groups, women won 58.4 percent of all degrees and certificates awarded. Thus, the gender gap among African Americans is far greater than the gender gap for the nation as a whole.

In the 2015-16 academic year, Black women earned 85,616 associates degrees. This was 66.7 percent of all associate’s degrees awarded to African Americans. The gender gap was smaller for bachelor’s degree awards. Black women earned 64.1 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded to African Americans.

But the gender gap grows larger for master’s degrees. Nearly 70 percent of all master’s degrees awarded to African Americans in the 2015-16 academic year were earned by Black women.

There were 6,911 African Americans who earned doctoral degrees in professional practice fields such as medicine, law, dentistry, veterinary medicine, etc. Black women earned 64.5 percent of these degrees. Another 5,264 African Americans earned doctoral degrees in research fields. Of these 68.5 percent were earned by Black women.

The full report, Postsecondary Institutions and Cost of Attendance in 2016-17; Degrees and Other Awards Conferred: 2015-16; and 12-Month Enrollment: 2015-16: First Look, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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