What Happens to African American College Graduates After They Get Their Degree?

A new report from the U.S. Department of Education examines the status one year later of students who earned a bachelor’s degree in the 2015-16 academic year. Some of the data is broken down by race and ethnic group.

The data showed that 29.3 percent of Black students had applied to graduate school before completing their bachelor’s degree program. Only 22 percent of non-Hispanic Whites had done so. Some 27 percent of Black students had enrolled in some type of postbaccalaureate degree or certificate program within 12 months of earning their bachelor’s degree. For non-Hispanic White, 22.6 had enrolled in a postbaccalaureate program.

Of those who had enrolled in postbaccalaureate programs, about one third of Blacks and Whites were at private four-year institutions. More than 53 percent of Whites and 43 percent of Blacks had enrolled at public universities. Nearly 16 percent of Blacks and only 6 percent of Whites had enrolled at for-profit institutions for their postbaccalaureate programs.

For Blacks the most popular postbaccalaureate field of study was business. For Whites, health care was the most popular.

More than 84 percent of Black students took out loans to pay for their postbaccalaureate programs compared to 59.5 percent of Whites. On average, one year after graduating, African Americans owed more than the total amount they had borrowed.

More than 92 percent of Whites held at least one job in the 12 months after receiving their bachelor’s degree compared to 87 percent of Blacks.

The full report, One Year After a Bachelor’s Degree: A Profile of 2015–16 Graduates, may be downloaded by clicking here.

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  1. This data confirms what I have experienced. Unfortunately I have over $125k in student loan debt 2 masters and no job. Worked in higher education for 14 years and can’t teach because I’m not going back for a PhD, now required at the college level to teach.

    • Just curious. Why two masters degrees? Yes, most colleges and universities are requiring a PhD to teach, but recently there have been many postings for masters degrees only in the subject you wish to teach. I believe this is due to the exponential demand for online instructors. Also, outside of academia, a PhD will disqualify you for many job roles as overqualified; this is from personal experience after submitting 238 job applications to receive 48 rejections, 7 interviews, and 193 no responses.

      • Hey Rex,
        Something is inherently wrong with this picture. If you have an earned PhD and have submitted that applications and no “job offers” you may have to revise your overall interviewing delivery. Also, you need to significantly modify your CV, Teaching Philosophy Statement and accelerate your intellectual footprint via publishing.

  2. Black people should not go to college, unless they’re receiving scholarships or have the means to pay for it out of pocket, and maybe not even then. Too many people are going to college and unless some institution deems you smart enough to receive a scholarship, then your probably wasting your time. Ignorance is truly bliss! It’s a shame more black people didn’t just go for a trade and believed the W.E.B. Dubois stream of thought that advocated pursuing a liberal arts education, instead of the Booker T. Washington vision for blacks.

  3. Pearl,
    I have to disagree with you concerning your quest to teach at the university level. In lieu of having 14 years of “work experience in higher education”, how much actual teaching experience you have? With two MA degrees, you have very easily find a teaching position at the university level providing that you’re willing to relocate. I’m curious in knowing what area of study is your MA degrees? When was the last time you have written a college-level course syllabus? What about your current CV? When was the last time it was revised?

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