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Charles Hamilton Houston quote

  News & Views

Black Enrollments in Higher Education Continue to Climb

African Americans continue to post impressive gains in higher education enrollments.  The most important progress has been in graduate education.

The latest data from the U.S. Department of Education reveals that in the fall of 2005 there were nearly 2.1 million African Americans enrolled in higher education in the United States. There were nearly 45,000 more African Americans enrolled in higher education in 2005 than was the case the previous year. This is an increase of 2.2 percent. Blacks were 11.7 percent of the nearly 18 million students enrolled in higher education nationwide. This is nearly equivalent to the percentage of blacks in the college-age population. A decade earlier, in 1995, blacks were 10.3 percent of all enrollments in higher education.

Thus, black progress over the past decade has been nothing short of spectacular. In 1995 there were 1,474,000 blacks enrolled in higher education. By 2005 black enrollments had increased by more than 42 percent.

At four-year colleges and universities in 2005, there were 983,340 black students enrolled in undergraduate programs. This was an increase of 4 percent from 2004.

For the year 2005, there were 878,834 blacks enrolled in two-year community colleges. Here there was actually a small decline in total black enrollments from 2004. In 2005 more than 47 percent of all black undergraduate students were enrolled in two-year programs. For whites, 41 percent of all undergraduates were enrolled at two-year community colleges.

A decade ago there were 621,000 African Americans enrolled in two-year community colleges. So over the past decade there has been an increase of 41.5 percent in black enrollments in two-year institutions.

Black Enrollments in Graduate School

The latest figures show total black enrollments in graduate school of 207,968. This is up from 197,472 in 2004, an increase of 5.3 percent. A decade ago there were 119,000 black students enrolled in graduate programs. So over the past decade there has been a whopping increase of nearly 75 percent in black graduate school enrollments. Today blacks make up 9.5 percent of all enrollments in graduate school. A decade ago blacks were 6.9 percent of total enrollments in graduate school.

Black progress in professional school enrollments has been good but short of spectacular. In 2005 there were 24,163 African Americans enrolled in U.S. professional schools. They made up 7.2 percent of all students enrolled in professional schools nationwide. Over the past decade there has been a 14 percent increase in black professional school enrollments. But the black percentage of total enrollments in professional schools has remained about the same.

In 2005 there was a slight drop in black professional school enrollments from a year before. This is undoubtedly the result of a continuing decrease in the number of blacks enrolling in law school.*

*Total black enrollments in law school dropped by 3 percent in 2005. For more details, see “Ranking the Nation’s Law Schools According to Percentages of Black Students,” JBHE, Number 54, Winter 2006/2007, p. 56.