A Racial Gap in Debt Levels of Doctoral Students

5690301350_59df0ce11f_mThe American Institute of Research finds that African American doctoral students in the sciences are more likely to accrue large amounts of debt than their White, Asian, or Hispanic peers. The report found that Black doctoral students in STEM fields were more than twice as likely as Whites or Asians to accumulate at least $30,000 in debt.

Among those who studied in a STEM discipline, about 26 percent of Whites and Asians owed debt upon graduation, compared with about 49 percent of African Americans. A quarter of all Black doctoral students in the sciences had more than $30,000 in debt compared to 10 percent of Whites and Asians.

For doctoral students in the social, behavioral, and economic sciences, 35 percent of Whites and Asians accumulated more than $30,000 in debt compared to 58 percent of African Americans.

“Financing a Ph.D. in the sciences can result in high levels of debt, particularly for under-represented minorities,” said Rita Kirshstein, co-author of the issue brief and a managing director at AIR. “If we want science Ph.D. programs to be more inclusive, then we need to re-examine the policies and practices that support those students.”

The report, The Price of a Science PhD: Variations in Student Debt Levels Across Disciplines and Race/Ethnicity, may be downloaded by clicking here.


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