The Top 100: Interpreting the Data
By Dr. Victor M. H. Borden and Pamela C. BrownEarning a bachelor’s degree marks the end of the college experience for many students of color, but for others it is only the beginning. Those who hope to become a doctor, a lawyer or a college professor know that their undergraduate career was just the starting point and that they still have a long and hard road to tow to attain their ultimate goal. The higher earnings prospects associated with graduate degree completion may be enough to keep some students focused and motivated, but it is often not enough.
Completing a master’s, doctoral or first professional degree requires a level of dedication that is often difficult to sustain, given viable employment alternatives for a baccalaureate-educated person. More and more, the post-baccalaureate credential is needed to enter into the “leadership class” of our companies, our communities and our country. The quality of life for current and future generations of all people depends on the ability of our colleges and universities to confer post-baccalaureate degrees on a diverse array of competent, ethical and caring individuals.
This edition focuses on the Top 100 institutions that conferred graduate degrees during the 2002-2003 academic year. Similar to previous years, this is not a “final release” from the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The preliminary data are complete and accurate for those institutions included in the analysis. In our experience, the preliminary data files include complete and accurate data for the vast majority of institutions included in this analysis: that is, Title IV eligible institutions located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia that award post-baccalaureate degrees.
The data for this study come from the U.S. Department of Education and are collected through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) Program Completer’s Survey conducted by NCES. The survey requests data on the number of degrees and other formal awards conferred in academic, vocational and continuing professional education programs. Institutions report their data according to the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes developed by NCES. CIP codes provide a common set of categories allowing comparisons across all colleges and universities.
The lists included in this analysis are based on students’ racial or ethnic status. Students select from a set of categories from which to choose and report this information during their college career. While the number and labels of these categories may vary, when reporting enrollment or degrees to NCES, institutions must “map” their categories to the standard federal categories: non-resident alien; Black, non-Hispanic; American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic; White, non-Hispanic; and race/ethnicity unknown. The “minority” categories — Black, non-Hispanic; American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; and Hispanic — include only U.S. citizens or permanent residents.
Until federal government agencies finish revamping the rules for race/ethnicity reporting to align with the 2000 Census, the single category selection method will continue to characterize the degree completion data. Methodology
The tables that follow provide a listing of institutions that conferred the highest number of three types of post-baccalaureate degrees: master’s, first professional (e.g., medicine, dentistry, law, divinity, etc.), and doctoral (including the Ph.D., as well as specialized doctoral degrees, such as the Ed.D., Psy.D., DBA, DSN, etc.). The total table (all disciplines combined) for each degree type typically includes about 100 institutions for total minority, as well as for the larger minority groups, African American, Hispanic and Asian American. Some of the summary tables and all of the discipline-specific tables list at most about 50 institutions. The “about” reference relates to the fact that some tables have slightly more or less than 100 or 50 institutions due to ties in ranks at or near the end of the list. Typically, we cut the list at those positions for which adding the next group would take the list well past the 100 or 50 target. However, many tables include far fewer than 50 institutions because we do not list any college or university that conferred fewer than three degrees within a specific category.
The columns of each table convey the number of degrees conferred to that particular minority group in the disciplinary field of focus for the prior year (2001-2002), as well as the number conferred in 2002-2003 to men, women and total. The total column is the basis for inclusion and placement in the list. The last two columns of each table provide two different percentage indicators. The first percentage (%Grads) indicates how the preceding “total” column (degrees conferred to that particular minority group within the target disciplinary area) compares to all degrees conferred by that institution in that same disciplinary area. For example, if a table shows that an institution that conferred 100 master’s degrees in business to African Americans, representing 20 percent of the graduates, this implies that a total of 500 students received master’s degrees in business at that school in 2002-2003. The second percentage indicator represents the increase or decrease in degrees conferred to students within that minority group at that institution between the prior and current year. So, if the same institution that conferred 100 master’s degrees in business to African Americans in 2002-2003 had conferred only 80 in 2001-2002, you would see 25 percent in the last column, indicating that 100 is 25 percent higher than 80.
Trends in Post-baccalaureate
In addition to highlighting the degree productivity of the institutions included in the Top 100 lists, we also like to monitor overall trends in post-baccalaureate degrees. Toward this end, we present two summary tables.
The first table presents the overall trend in the number of master’s, doctoral and first professional degrees conferred to students of color over the last 10 years (from 1992-1993 through 2002-2003). The trend is shown for each degree type and each minority group, as well as for total minority within each degree type, and for total post-baccalaureate degrees within each minority group. The accompanying line graph shows the steady increase over the course of time, with a notable upward swing over the past four years, especially for African Americans. Since their numbers are small it is hard to tell from the graph, but the raw data show that the largest percentage increases have been for American Indians, with the gains made primarily in the early years of the time series.
The detail provided within the trend table also shows that, for both African Americans and Hispanics, the increase in first professional degree conferrals has been relatively low (about 3.5 percent per year), compared to the increases in master’s and doctoral degree conferral rates.
The second table of this analysis focuses on the representation of African Americans among enrolled postsecondary students and degree recipients, with an overall comparison to their representation within the U.S. population at large, based on the U.S. Census Bureau’s Current Population Survey. These representational comparisons are provided for both 1992-1993 and 2002-2003.
Overall, African American representation among the general U.S. population increased by less than one-half of one percent between 1992 and 2002. In 1992, when Blacks comprised 12.4 percent of the population, they comprised 10.4 percent of undergraduate students but only 8.2 percent of undergraduate degree recipients. Moreover, their representation was notably low within four-year institutions (10.1 percent) and especially low among baccalaureate degree recipients (6.6 percent). The bottom portion of the table shows that the “gap” between African American representation among baccalaureate degree recipients and among students enrolled at four-year higher education institutions is a full 3.5 percentage points.
By comparison, the African American representation gap between graduate/professional level enrollments and degree conferrals (ranging from 1.8 percentage points for doctoral degrees to 0.2 percentage points for master’s degrees) was not as large in 1992 as it was between baccalaureate degrees and enrollments. But even though the gap wasn’t as large, the overall representation of African Americans among graduate level students (5.3 percent) was much lower than their representation among the general population (12.4 percent). It is also interesting to note that African American representation is particularly high among “less than two-year” postsecondary institutions, that is, the more vocationally and technically oriented institutions that award only one-year certificates.
Although the overall representation of Blacks in the United States climbed by less than one-half of one percentage point between 1992 and 2002, their representation among all levels of enrolled students and degree recipients increased more substantially. African American representation in both “less than two-year” and two-year colleges now exceeds their overall population representation. Their representation in four-year institutions, at 11.1 percent is still below, but now slightly closer to their overall population representation.
The largest increase in African American representation between 1992 and 2002 was between master’s and doctoral program enrollments (3.5 percentage points). As a result, the current representation, 8.4 percent, is substantially closer to the population representation than it was in 1992 when it was only 4.9 percent. The gains in representation in master’s and doctoral degree conferrals are also notable, but lag slightly behind the enrollment gains. Given the time lag between initial enrollment and degree conferral, these data portend further increases in master’s and doctoral degree representation in the coming years.
Once again, the story is not as positive for first professional programs, including medicine and law. In 1992 African American representation was higher in first professional programs and among first professional degree conferrals than for either master’s or doctoral degree programs. Although representation increased between 1992 and 2002, it did not increase as quickly as it did for the master’s and doctoral programs, and so fell behind, especially in comparison with master’s degree programs.
Finally, it is somewhat discouraging to note the particularly low representation of African Americans among doctoral degree recipients. Increasing from a meager 3.1 percent in 1992 to a still uninspiring rate of 5.1 percent in 2002, the gap is still substantial compared to overall population representation. At this rate of increase (gaining two percentage points in 10 years), the gap would be eliminated just in time for us to celebrate the 100th anniversary of Brown v. Board of Education. Although it would take working against some recently constructed obstacles to affirmative action, perhaps with a diligent redoubling of our efforts the gap can disappear in time for us to celebrate the 40th anniversary of Black Issues In Higher Education. — Dr. Victor M. H. Borden is associate vice chancellor and
associate professor and Pamela C. Brown is an enrollment specialist at Indiana University-Purdue University Indianapolis.
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