Academic Disciplines Where African Americans Earned No Doctoral Degrees in 2015

The National Science Foundation recently released its annual data on doctoral degree recipients in the United States. Data for the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates shows that universities in the United States conferred 55,006 doctorates in 2015.

As reported recently in a JBHE post, African Americans earned 2,281 doctoral degrees in 2015. They made up 6.5 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of this country.

But Blacks are vastly underrepresented among doctoral degree recipients in some disciplines. For example, African Americans earned only 1.7 percent of all doctorates awarded in the physical sciences. Blacks earned 1.4 percent of all mathematics doctorates and only 1.7 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines.

In 2015, according to the National Science Foundation, 2,330 doctorates were awarded in the fields of animal nutrition, fisheries science, botany, computational biology, wildlife biology, zoology, geomorphology, paleontology, oceanography, biophysics, elementary particle physics, nuclear physics, plasma physics, algebra, logic, environmental economics, robotics, Asian history, history of science and technology, classics, art history, music, and music theory.

Not one was earned by an African American.

JBHE has published a similar list of fields where no African Americans have earned doctorates for many years. The good news is that, unlike many prior years, there are some African Americans who have earned doctorates in astronomy, most physics disciplines, most chemistry disciplines, most mathematics fields, and many areas of engineering. The racial gap in doctoral awards in STEM fields remains large, but progress is being made, albeit at a very slow rate.

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