Academic Disciplines Where African Americans Received Few or No Doctorates in 2021

The National Science Foundation recently released its annual data on research doctoral degree recipients in the United States. Data for the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates shows that universities in the United States conferred 52,250 research doctorates in 2021, down 5.5 percent from 2020. Slightly more than 3,000 of these doctorates were earned by Black students. If we exclude doctorates earned by citizens of foreign nations, we find that 2,431 African Americans earned doctorates from U.S. universities in 2021. This was down slightly from 2020. African Americans earned 7.7 percent of all doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens or permanent residents of this country.

But there are many fields where Blacks earned only a tiny percentage of all doctorates. In several specific fields, African Americans did not earn any doctorates.

For example, African Americans earned only 1.4 percent of all doctorates awarded in mathematics and 1.2 percent of all doctorates in physics that were awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents in 2021. Blacks earned 4 percent of all doctorates in computer science, 4 percent of all doctorates in chemistry, and only 4.1 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines.

In 2021, a total of 1,938 doctoral degrees were awarded in geotechnical and geoenvironmental engineering, civil, environmental, and transportation engineering,  materials and mining engineering, engineering mechanics, geochemistry, climatology, marine biology, marine sciences, applied mathematics, algebra/number theory, history of science, astronomy, theoretical chemistry, atomic/molecular physics, condensed matter physics, nuclear physics, theoretical physics, general anthropology, agricultural economics, applied linguistics, and Spanish. None went to an African American.

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