The Number of Blacks Earning Bachelor’s Degrees Is At an All-Time High

According to the U.S. Department of Education, in the year 2005 blacks earned 136,122 four-year bachelor’s degrees from American colleges and universities. The number of blacks earning bachelor’s degrees increased nearly 4 percent from the previous year. In that year the number of African Americans earning bachelor’s degrees reached the highest level in this nation’s history. It was more than double the number of bachelor’s degrees earned by blacks in 1990.

The large increase in bachelor’s degrees earned by blacks is encouraging, but the other side of the news is that only about two out of every five black students who enroll as freshmen in college go on to graduate within six years from the same institution they entered. Blacks are now nearly 12 percent of total enrollments in higher education, but in the 2005 academic year they earned only 9.5 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded.

But note that this figure too measures considerable progress. As recently as 1985 blacks earned only 5.9 percent of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in the United States.