Fields Where African Americans Earn Few or No Doctoral Degrees

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 54,904 doctorates in 2016.

As reported recently in a JBHE post, African Americans earned 2,360 doctoral degrees in 2016. They made up 6.6 percent of all doctoral degrees awarded to students who are U.S. citizens or permanent residents of this country.

But Blacks are vastly underrepresented among doctoral degree recipients in some disciplines. For example, African Americans earned only 1.8 percent of all doctorates awarded in physics to U.S. citizens and permanent residents. Blacks earned 3.8 percent of all mathematics and statistics doctorates, 3.7 percent of all doctorates in computer science, and only 4.1 percent of all doctorates awarded in engineering disciplines.

In 2016, according to the National Science Foundation, 1,660 doctorates were awarded in the fields of agricultural economics, fishing and fisheries science, wildlife biology, geophysics and seismology, paleontology, ocean and marine sciences, astronomy, atomic physics, nuclear physics, plasma physics, general physics, logic and topology, neuropsychology, physical and biological anthropology, applied linguistics, French, Italian, German, Latin American languages and literature, European history, and classics. Not one was earned by an African American.

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