Many Black Doctoral Degree Recipients Overcome Long Odds

New data released by the National Science Foundation shows that many African Americans who earn doctoral degrees are more likely to have parents who did not go to college than to have parents who graduated from a four-year educational institution. In 2009, 35 percent of all black doctoral recipients had a father who was a college graduate and nearly 39 percent had a mother who had at least a bachelor’s degree. But 45.6 percent of all blacks who earned a doctoral degree in 2009 had a father who did not attend college and 38 percent had a mother who did not continue her education past high school.

For whites, the percentage of doctoral recipients who were raised in highly educated families was significantly greater. More than 64 percent of white doctoral recipients had a father who graduated from college. And 55 percent of whites who earned a doctorate had a mother who was a college graduate.