Racial Differences in the Age of Doctoral Degree Recipients in the United States

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 there are racial and ethnic differences in the age of doctoral degree recipients and the time it took students to complete their doctoral studies.

On average, Whites who earned doctorates were 31.6 years old when they received their doctoral degrees. For African Americans, the average age was 36.1. But when we break the figures down by age group, we see more pronounced differences. Whites were far more likely than African Amerians to earn a doctorate before the age of 30. Nearly 45 percent of all Whites who earned doctorates in 2019 were below the age of 30, compared to just 25.5 percent of African Americans.

But African Americans were more likely to earn a doctorate at an older age. For example, 34.4 percent of all Blacks who earned doctorates in 2019 were over the age of 40. For Whites earning doctorates in 2019, only 14.4 percent were over the age of 40.

On average, Whites took 8.8 years to complete their doctorate from the time they enrolled in graduate school. For African Americans, the average was 12.0 years. For African Americans earning doctorates in education, the average number of years it took to earn a doctorate after beginning graduate school was 15.9 years.


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