The Persisting Racial Gap in Doctoral Degree Awards

The National Science Foundation recently released its annual data on doctoral degree recipients in the United States. Data for the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates shows that universities in the United States conferred 54,904 doctorates in 2016.

Of these, 2,360, or 4.3 percent, were earned by African Americans. African Americans earned 6.6 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of this country. Therefore, African Americans earned about one half the number of doctorates that would be the case if racial parity with the U.S. Black population prevailed.

The number of doctorates earned by African Americans in 2016 was up slightly from 2015. But the percentage of all doctoral degree recipients who are African Americans is increasing at only a snail’s pace. In 2005, Blacks were 6.2 percent of all U.S. citizens and permanent residents who earned doctorates. In 2016 the figure was 6.6 percent.

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