Black On Campus
Higher Education and the African American Experience

Black Folks in the Academy, Current Numbers and Recent Trends

May 5th, 2007 by Ajuan Mance

The Journal of Blacks in Higher Education (JBHE) recently reported that the number of doctoral degrees awarded to Black scholars is on the decline. In 2005, the most recent year for which statistics are available only 1,688 doctorates were awarded to African Americans. This number represents a decline of nearly 10 percent from 2004, during which African Americans earned 1,869 doctorates.

This surprising and disturbing report inspired me to further investigate the current state of affairs for African Americans in the academy. In compiling the following list of current facts and statistics I was especially interested in how dramatically the decreasing numbers of doctorates earned by Black graduate students, the heavy concentration of Black doctorates in a limited range of disciplines, and the dearth of Black doctorates in other fields deviates from the much more promising outlook for  Black bachelor’s degree earners (whose increasing numbers and wide range of majors indicate significant progress).  

Interestingly enough, the main similarity that I noted between the current state of affairs for Black doctorate and bachelor’s degree earners is in the realm of gender. Women graduates outnumber men at both the undergraduate and doctoral levels.

The List

  • Number of doctorates earned by African Americans in 1987: 787 (From JBHE)
  • Number of doctorates earned by African Americans in 2004: 1,869 (From JBHE)
  • Number of doctorates earned by African Americans in 2005: 1,688 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage of all U.S. doctorates earned by African Americans in 2005: 6.4 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage of all U.S. doctorates earned by African Americans in 2004: 7.1 (From JBHE)
  • Of all 2005 U.S. doctorates earned by African Americans, percentage that were in the field of education: 39.2 (From JBHE)
  • Of all 2005 U.S. doctorates earned by white Americans, percentage that were in the field of education: 18.8 (From JBHE)
  • Of all 2005 U.S. doctorates that were earned by African Americans, percentage that were in fields other than education: 4.8 (From JBHE)
  • Number of Ph.D.s awarded in astronomy in 2005: 72 (From JBHE)
  • Number of astronomy Ph.D.s awarded to African Americans in 2005: 0 (From JBHE)
  • Number of Ph.D.s awarded in physics in 2005: 1300+ (From JBHE)
  • Number of physics Ph.D.s awarded to African Americans in 2005: 10 (From JBHE)
  • None of the Ph.D.s awarded in the following fields were awarded to African Americans: geometry, computing theory and practice, astronomy, meteorology, theoretical chemistry, geochemistry, geophysics and seismology, paleontology, mineralogy and petrology, stratigraphy and sedimentation, geomorphology and glacial geology, acoustics, elementary particle physics, biophysics, nuclear physics, plasma/fusion physics, polymer physics, hydrology and water resources, oceanography, petroleum engineering, polymer and plastics engineering, communications engineering, engineering mechanics, ceramic science engineering, metallurgical engineering, agricultural engineering, engineering physics, mining and mineral engineering, ocean engineering, animal breeding, animal nutrition, agricultural plant breeding, plant pathology, horticultural science, fishing and fisheries science, forest science and biology, forest resources management, wildlife/range management, biotechnology, bacteriology, plant genetics, plant pathology biology, plant physiology, botany, anatomy, entomology, zoology, and veterinary medicine. (From JBHE)
  • Percentage of all Black doctorates that were earned by women in 1977: 38.7 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage of all Black doctorates that were earned by women in 2005: 64.9 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage increase between 1990 and 2005 in the number of doctoral degrees earned by Black women: 99 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage increase between 1990 and 2005 in the number of doctoral degrees earned by Black men: 68.7 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage of 2005 Black doctorate recipients who intended to pursue careers in academia: 59 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage of 2005 white doctorate recipients who intended to pursue careers in academia: 47 (From JBHE)
  • Percentage of all U.S. doctorates awarded to African Americans in 2004: 7.2 (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
  • Percentage of all U.S. doctorates awarded to Asian Americans in 2004: 5.6 (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
  • Percentage of all U.S. doctorates awarded to Latin Americans in 2004: 4.6 (Chronicle of Higher Ed)
  • Institutions granting the greatest number of doctorates to African Americans in 2004:

Posted by Ajuan Mance

Share/Save/Bookmark

Posted in Academia, African American Students, Black PhDs, Current Events, gender gap, race

4 Responses

  1. Helena H.

    Hmm. Interesting.

    Thank you for sharing this.

  2. SonOfTheSoil

    yes this is an apalling trend. As one of the few black students majoring in the under-represented field of Computational biology, i’ve seen this gloomy trend through my studies, and especially as i progressed in my studies, the dirth of black students (and professors) was quite conspicuous. i’m sorry to say that in the last year and a half i’ve been the only black male in my upper division science classes and it has started to take an effect on me….this situation is truly sad.

  3. twilightandreason

    Thanks for your response. This is sad indeed. I think it will be a while before the sciences and other fields realize that ethnic and cultural diversity within their ranks can energize their disciplines in ways that we are only beginning to understand. The simple fact is that research is based on asking questions, and some of the questions asked by people from underrepresented backgrounds and cultures are likely to ask different types of questions than those posed by folks in the majority.

    Business already understands that diversity is good for the economic bottom line. With any luck, academe will also take to heart that diversity is good for the intellectual bottom line as well. Once senior academics comprehend this and believe that ethnic and cultural diversity is creates a fertile atmosphere for intellectual growth with the same conviction that they believe that — say — strong libraries are essential to fostering intellectual growth, then these same scholars will be able to resist the anti-diversity, anti-affirmative action crowd with real strength.

  4. mjonesfoster

    Hello,

    I am writing to reach out to you regarding Black PhDs. Do you know of any firm, organization, etc. that has a list of Black professionals who have earned PhDs in the last three years or so? The Office of Human Resources at Columbia College Chicago is trying to reach out to minority/underrepresented academic professional, and we need help. Columbia College Chicago is the world’s largest arts and media institution, situated in the heart of Chicago’s downtown, South Loop area.

    Thank you for your assistance.

    Sincerely,

    Michelle Jones-Foster

    Director, Recruitment

    312-344-8216

Leave a Comment

Please note: Comment moderation is enabled and may delay your comment. There is no need to resubmit your comment.