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Report: Minority Doctoral Recipients Gaining Momentum

Report: Minority Doctoral Recipients Gaining Momentum

Twenty percent of the U.S. citizens awarded research doctorates from American universities in 2006 were ethnic minorities, according to a recent report released by the National Science Foundation in conjunction with the National Opinion Research Center and an assortment of government agencies.

It was the largest percentage ever recorded for minority recipients in the annual Survey of Earned Doctorates. This data and other findings can be found in the 2006 summary report “Doctorate Recipients from United States Universities.”

During the 2005-06 academic year, U.S. universities awarded 46,596 research doctoral degrees, improving 5 percent from the year before. This total, which includes international students, represents the highest number of research doctorate recipients in U.S. history, researchers say.

A total of 5,211 minority students were awarded research doctorates, for a 2.6 percent increase over 2005. While minorities made up 20 percent of U.S. awardees, they made up 11 percent of all doctorate recipients, including international students.

Among minorities, Blacks earned the most doctorates at 1,659; Asian/Pacific Islanders earned 1,619, Hispanics 1,370 and American Indians 118.

“We have to take these results in context. While they are positive, the only thing that really solidifies how positive they are is if they continue. In the late ’70s, early ’80s, we saw a big jump in the numbers. Right after, there was a huge dip that took about 10 years to make up,” says Dr. Ansley Abraham, director of the Southern Regional Education Board’s Doctoral Scholars Program.

For the fifth consecutive year, women were awarded more doctorates than men, earning 51 percent of Ph.D.s granted to U.S. citizens in 2006.

There were 279 fields of specialization covered by the SED report, grouped into seven broad categories: life sciences, physical sciences, social sciences, engineering, education, humanities and a heterogeneous group of other fields.

The 5 percent increase in doctorates awarded in 2006 was fueled by increases in six of the seven broad fields, analysts say. Engineering and physical sciences showed the largest gains at 12 percent. The number of doctorates awarded in the field of education dropped 2 percent since 2005.

Minority groups had their largest representation in the fields of engineering (24 percent); education (23 percent); and social sciences at (19 percent). Blacks were the largest minority population in education, representing 55 percent. Asians were the largest contingent in engineering, physical sciences and life sciences; representing 53 percent, 48 percent, and 42 percent, respectively. Hispanics were the largest minority population in humanities at 33 percent.

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