Academic Fields Where Blacks Earn Few or No Doctoral Degrees in 2017

The National Science Foundation recently released its annual data on doctoral degree recipients in the United States. As reported in a recent JBHE post, data for the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates shows that universities in the United States conferred 54,641 doctorates in 2017. Of these, 2,963, or 5.4 percent were awarded to Black students.

But Blacks are vastly underrepresented among doctoral degree recipients in some disciplines. For example, African Americans earned only 1.2 percent of all doctorates awarded in physics to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Blacks earned 0.9 percent of all mathematics and statistics doctorates, 1 percent of all doctorates in computer science,  2 percent of all doctorates in chemistry,and only 1.7 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines.

In 2017, there were 1.176 doctorates awarded by U.S. universities in the fields of plant genetics, wildlife biology, medical physics, atmospheric physics, chemical and physical oceanography, plasma/high temperature physics, geometry, logic, number theory, robotics, structural engineering, English as a second language, Italian, Middle/Near East history, classics, music,  and music performance. Not one went to an African American.


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