In African American Doctoral Awards, Women Gained and Men Saw a Drop 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.

Of these, 3,040 were earned by Black students, down slightly from the previous year. But more than one fifth of all doctorates earned by Black students at U.S. universities went to foreign students.

If we restrict the data to U.S. citizens and permanent residents of this country, 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. This is about half the percentage that would exist if racial parity in doctoral awards was achieved.

Of the 2,431 African Americans who earned doctorates from U.S. universities in 2021, 1,552 were women. Thus, women earned 63.8 percent of all doctorates awarded to African Americans in 2021. This is up from 62.3 percent in 2020. The number of African American men who earned doctorates in 2021 was the lowest number since 2017.

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