The Halt in Black Progress in Professional Degree Attainments

In the 2005-06 academic year, blacks earned 6,223 professional degrees. They made up 7.1 percent of all professional degrees awarded in the United States that year. Included are degrees in medicine, law, dentistry, and several other fields.

Since 1985 the number of blacks earning professional degrees each year has more than doubled. But the number of blacks earning professional degrees actually declined slightly in 2006. The percentage of all professional degrees earned by blacks also showed a slight decrease. Law and medical degree awards, the two disciplines with the most professional degrees, have seen a drop-off in blacks in recent years. Blacks have seen significant professional degree gains in pharmacy, podiatry, and divinity.

Blacks made up nearly 15 percent of all students who earned a professional degree at divinity schools. However, blacks continue to have a very small presence in professional degree awards in dentistry, osteopathic medicine, optometry, chiropractic medicine, and veterinary medicine.