The Top 100 degree tables published in this edition of Diverse, and the many more detailed tables included on the Diverse Web site, delineate the institutions that have conferred the most master’s, doctoral and first professional degrees to students of color in academic year 2007-2008. As is our custom, each table shows the number of degrees for a specific minority group as well as for total minorities, by gender and total. We also include the prior year total along with two percentages: the percentage of degrees in that degree and disciplinary area conferred to members of the target minority group; and the percentage change from the prior year in degrees conferred to the target minority group in the degree/disciplinary area.
As we note in each Top 100 issue, the data for this analysis are collected by the National Center for Education Statistics from all U.S. postsecondary institutions. These data are part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Set (IPEDS). The preliminary data we use are complete and accurate for those institutions included in the analysis, which represent the vast majority of U.S. four-year colleges and universities. Institutions of higher education also indicate the disciplinary areas of degrees conferred using Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes, a comprehensive and fairly stable taxonomy developed by the NCES and updated regularly to reflect changes in curricula.
We noted in the undergraduate issue (see the June 25 edition) that the NCES has begun a process of moving to new racial/ethnic categories that will be aligned with the way information is collected by the U.S. Census Bureau and other government agencies. Specifically, enrolled students are first asked whether they are of Hispanic or Latino origin. Any U.S. citizen or permanent resident who responds “yes” to this question is categorized as Hispanic. Anyone who is not a U.S. citizen or permanent resident is categorized as a “non-resident alien.” All other individuals are categorized according to their answer to a second question in which they are presented with a set of racial/ethnic categories and asked to “check all that apply.” When responding to IPEDS surveys, college and university officials are asked to report individuals who check only one category into one of five standard categories: Native American or Alaska Native; Asian; Black or African-American; Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islander; and White. (Although NCES has started to disaggregate Asian and Pacific Islander data, our analysis still reports the combined category.) Anyone who checks off more than one category is placed into a new “two or more races” category.
Although this new method for reporting race/ethnicity is not required of institutions until 2011, institutions are now offered the option of reporting according to the old standard, the new standard, or in a mixed mode. For the current year, we have placed all responses into the standard categories that we have been using for years. Students counted in the new “two or more races” category (for the few institutions that have started using the new system) are not counted in any of the minority categories.
At the same time that the NCES is changing the racial ethnic categories, they have also instituted new degree categories to replace what we have been reporting as “first professional” and “doctoral” degrees. Within two years, all institutions must count these degrees in three new categories: doctor’s degree-research/scholarship; doctor’s degree- professional practice; and doctor’s degree-other. As with the racial/ethnic codes, the new degree categories are optional for this and next year before becoming mandatory. For those institutions that use the new categories, we report professional practice degrees as first professional and both other categories as doctoral degrees. It is not yet clear how the new degree categories will affect our reporting in future years as the categorization is left up to individual institutions. We expect that institutions will include all degrees currently classified as first professional in the professional practice category. In addition, such degrees as the doctor of physical therapy, doctor of audiology, and other specialized doctoral degrees that serve as a qualifying credential for professional practice will join this category. We are less sure where degrees like the doctor of business administration, doctor of public administration, and the educational doctorate (Ed.D.) will be reported, and it is likely that the practice will not be consistent across institutions.
The proliferation of specialized master’s and doctoral degrees is one reason why there has been significant growth in graduate degree conferrals among proprietary (or private-for-profit) institutions. At the master’s level, the dominance of the University of Phoenix-online and the presence of campuses of Strayer and DeVry Universities indicate this trend. Among doctoral degrees, we now see Capella University, Argosy University and Alliant International University in the top 10. The graphs accompanying this article show the distribution of master’s and doctoral degrees conferred by proprietary, private- nonprofit and public institutions among the Top 20 for non-minorities, total minorities and each minority group. At the master’s level, for example, one-third of degrees conferred to all minorities by Top 20 institutions and almost one-half of all degrees conferred to African-Americans were conferred by proprietary institutions. On the other hand, proprietary institutions do not occupy high spots in conferring either master’s or doctoral degrees to Asian Americans.
Public institutions generally maintain the high spots for doctoral degree conferrals for members of most racial/ethnic groups, but less so for African-Americans. Public institutions are particularly popular for Native American students. It is interesting to note that, overall, minorities and non-minorities do not differ as much than the various minority groups differ from each other in this pattern.
Dr. Victor M. H. Borden is an associate vice president and professor at Indiana University.
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