Racial Differences in the Road to the Doctoral Degree

NSF-LogoAccording to the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates from the National Science Foundation, in 2013, 2,167 African Americans were awarded doctoral degrees from American universities. African Americans earned 6.4 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded to U.S. students.

African Americans tended to take longer than Whites to earn a doctoral degree. On average, Blacks who earned a doctorate did so 11.3 years after earning their bachelor’s degree. For Whites, the average was 9.3 years. Blacks took 9.3 years to earn a doctorate after enrolling in graduate school for the first time, compared to 7.3 years for Whites.

More than 24 percent of White doctoral recipients in 2013 received research assistantships that helped them pay for graduate school. Only 14.1 percent of African Americans who earned doctorates in 2013 were research assistants. More than 36 percent of African American doctoral recipients used their own funds as the primary source of funding for their doctoral studies. Only 20.7 percent of Whites used their own resources as the primary source of funding for their doctoral studies.

Some 28 percent of African Americans who earned doctorates in 2013 had accumulated debt of more than $90,000. Only 9.2 percent of male doctoral recipients that year had debt of more than $90,000. The average debt for African American doctoral recipients was $55,159 compared to an average debt of $26,741 for White doctoral recipients.


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  1. Michael says:

    This so-called NSF study only reveals that native born Blacks do not receive similar institutional and departmental support from these Historically White Colleges and Universities (HWCUs). I wonder why? For those who are so inclined to even remotely assume that it’s due to academic performance. Nothing could be further from the truth.
    In fact, it’s called disparate treatment and racial microaggressions.

    Once these so-called White, Asian, and White Latino professors detect from a native born Black doctoral student has a modicum of Black consciousness(e.g., as shown in their research writing or during classroom), they will immediately find themselves on the “opponents of White supremacy” radar. As a result, their academic work will be hyper scrutinized to the point they incrementally began to question their intellectual ability and eventually leave the program. Ultimately, White supremacy in higher education is temporarily victorious because you cannot permanently stop excellence.

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