African Americans Making Only Snail-Like Progress in Doctoral Degree Awards

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 54,641 doctorates in 2017. Of these, 2,963, or 5.4 percent were awarded to Black students .

However, more than 550 of these Black students were not U.S. citizens or permanent residents of this country. If we restrict the figures to citizens and permanent residents we find that African Americans earned 6.7 percent of all doctoral awards in 2017. Therefore, African Americans earned about one half the number of doctorates that would be the case if racial parity with the U.S. Black population prevailed.

The number of doctorates earned by African Americans in 2017 was up slightly from 2016. But the percentage of all doctoral degree recipients who are African Americans is increasing at only a snail’s pace. A decade ago, African American earned 6.4 of all doctorates awarded to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. As stated above, in 2017 the figure had inched upward to 6.7 percent.


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