The Top 100: Interpreting the Data

By Borden, Victor M. H.; Brown, Pamela C. et al. | Black Issues in Higher Education, July 14, 2005 | Go to article overview
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The Top 100: Interpreting the Data


Borden, Victor M. H., Brown, Pamela C., Garver, Amy K., Black Issues in Higher Education


Much attention in higher education is being paid to the need to close the enrollment and attainment gap between minority and White students at the baccalaureate level. This focus is not misguided-after all, if students don't make it through the K-12 pipeline and go on to obtain a bachelor's degree, earning a graduate degree is out of the question. However, in a world where post-baccalaureate education is increasingly required for entry into positions of influence, one could argue that the attainment gap at this level is even more critical for improving social equity.

Black Issues examines the Top IOO institutions that awarded graduate degrees during the 2003-2004 academic year. As with our recent baccalaureate analysis, we base this analysis on "preliminary" data collected by the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). For all of the institutions that are included in the analysis, the preliminary data are complete and accurate. The analysis is restricted to Title IV eligible institutions located in the 50 states and the District of Columbia that award post-baccalaureate degrees.

Colleges and universities submit their degree counts to NCES through the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), which is a Web-based survey that requires institutions to categorize their degree programs according to the national Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code system. While there is no such thing as a perfect mapping system, the CIP codes allow us to make fairly reliable comparisons across institutions, regardless of differences in local practices.

Similarly, student race/ethnicity is collected through a set of standard federal categories: non-resident alien; Black, nonHispanic, American or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic; White, non-Hispanic; and race/ethnicity unknown. Only U.S. citizens or permanent residents are included in the "minority" categories. Students self-report their racial/ethnic identity according to whatever local convention is used at their institution. Institutional staff determine how to "map" their categories to the standard federal ones, which allow for only one racial/ethnic identification per student. Although this practice does not align with the more flexible "multi-identification" practices now used by the federal government in the population census, new reporting guidelines have yet to be developed for IPEDS or any other federal educational reporting systems.

Top 100 lists are presented for each postgraduate degree level (master's, first professional and doctoral) and each racial/ethnic group. The lists follow the same structure as used in the bachelor's analysis, with the prior year total followed by the current year (2003-2004) figures for men, women and overall. The first percentage column represents the current year total degrees for the specific racial/ethnic group as a percent of the total degrees awarded in that area. The second percentage column reflects the change in degrees conferred to that racial ethnic group from 2002-2003 to 2003-2004.

Subsequent lists present the Top 50 institutions that confer degrees to each minority group in a select set of disciplines. The disciplines reflect aggregate groupings according to the CIP code system mentioned above. For example, the degrees reported by an institution in political science, economics, anthropology, sociology and geography all fall within the more general category of social and behavioral sciences. An interactive list of the CIP Code aggregate categories and their constituent components is available on the NCES Web site .

TEN-YEAR CHANGES IN GRADUATE DEGREE DISCIPLINES

In this year's analysis, we focus attention on changes over the last 10 years (from 19931994 to 2003-2004) in the disciplinary areas in which members of each racial/ethnic group attained degrees. Toward this end, we present three fairly dense tables, one each for master's degrees, doctoral degrees and first professional degrees.

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