Racial Differences in the Age of Doctoral Degree Recipients in the United States

Data from the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates from the National Science Foundation shows that there are racial and ethnic differences in the age of doctoral degree recipients and the time it took students to complete their doctoral studies.

On average, Whites who earned doctorates in 2020 were 31.6 years old when they received their doctoral degrees. For African Americans, the average age was 36.6. But when we break the figures down by age group, we see more pronounced differences. Whites were far more likely than African Americans to earn a doctorate before the age of 30. Nearly 45 percent of all Whites who earned doctorates in 2020 were below the age of 30, compared to just 24.3 percent of African Americans.

But African Americans were more likely to earn a doctorate at an older age. For example, 34.7 percent of all Blacks who earned doctorates in 2020 were over the age of 40. For Whites earning doctorates in 2020, only 14.7 percent were over the age of 40.

On average, Whites who received their doctorate in 2020 took 8.8 years to earn their degree from the time they graduated from college. For African Americans who earned doctorates in 2020, it took an average of 12.1 years. Whites took an average of 7.3 years to complete their doctorate from the time they enrolled in graduate school. For African Americans, the average was 10.2 years.

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