Report Urges Greater Efforts to Boost Opportunities for African Americans in Doctoral Programs

A new report from the Brookings Institution examines the progress African Americans have made in doctoral degree awards. Only about 2 percent of American adults hold a doctorate degree but the reports says that “the racial composition of those earning doctorates looks very different from the racial composition of the general population, raising questions of whether the benefits of racial representation in doctorate-level professions can be realized.”

In 1980, Black doctoral earners received about 40 percent of the doctorates they would have received if the percentage of doctorates equaled the Black percentage of the population. There has been significant improvement in the share of doctorates awarded to Black people, now at about four-fifths of what racial parity would call for.

The report asks: “How long will it take for URM groups to reach parity, given historical rates of improvement? As a rough calculation, the Black share rose from 43 percent to 79 percent in 39 years — a rate of almost 1 percentage point a year — with a remaining gap of 21 percentage points. Thus, if we assume similar trends in doctoral attainment and in demographic growth in the coming years, the answer is another 22 years for Black doctorates.”

But the overall figures hide the fact that Black research doctorates are much less likely to be in STEM fields than is true for other groups. And Black research doctorates are disproportionately in the field of education.

The report urges greater efforts to get Black undergraduates involved in research activities and for universities to offer greater financial aid for students from low-income families.

“The representation of underrepresented minority groups at the doctoral level has improved — indeed, it has improved substantially” the report concludes. “However, representation remains well below parity in the population and there seems to be little reason to believe ‘benign neglect’ will resolve the issue. Regardless of any future Supreme Court decisions, affirmative steps to attract underrepresented groups into programs at the highest levels of education — especially in STEM areas — continue to be needed.”


Related Articles

Leave a Reply

Get the JBHE Weekly Bulletin

Receive our weekly email newsletter delivered to your inbox

Latest News

Pew Research Center Provides Insight into Share of Black-Owned Businesses in the United States

Through analyzing data from the United States Census Bureau and the National Science Foundation, the Pew Research Center found that Black-owned businesses make up 3 percent of companies and earn 1 percent of gross revenue in the United States.

Martin Lemellle Appointed the Eleventh President of Grambling State University

Dr. Martin Lemelle has been serving as executive vice president and chief financial officer at the Maryland Institute College of Art.

Study Finds Elementary School Teachers More Likely to Discipline Black Boys than White Peers

“It is important to understand how race and racism shape children’s earliest school experiences,” wrote study author, Dr. Calvin Zimmerman. “Even for students as young as 6 years old, schools perpetuate existing social and educational inequalities.”

Johnnetta Betsch Cole Appointed President-In-Residence of the United Negro College Fund Capital Campaign

“With her immense expertise and passion for education, Dr. Cole will play a pivotal role in advancing the goals of our capital campaign and UNCF’s mission of ensuring equal access to higher education for underrepresented students of color,” said Dr. Michael L. Lomax, president and chief executive officer of the United Negro College Fund.

Featured Jobs