Blacks Gaining in Professional Degree Attainments

In the 2003-04 academic year, blacks earned 5,930 professional degrees. These include degrees in medicine, law, dentistry, and several other fields. Blacks received 7.1 percent of all professional degrees awarded in the United States that year.

The number of blacks earning professional degrees has increased at a slow but steady rate in recent years, but there was a far more rapid pace of improvement in the early 1990s. Law and medical degree awards, the two disciplines with the most professional degrees, have seen a drop-off in blacks in recent years. There have been significant professional degree gains by blacks in pharmacy, podiatry, and divinity.

More than 2,900 African Americans earned a law degree in the 2003-04 academic year, making up 7.3 percent of all law degree recipients and nearly half of all blacks who earned a professional degree. More than 1,000 black students earned a medical degree, making up 6.8 percent of all medical school graduates. Blacks made up nearly 14 percent of all students who earned a professional degree at divinity schools.

Blacks continue to have a very small presence in professional degree awards in dentistry, osteopathic medicine, optometry, chiropractic medicine, and veterinary medicine.