Five-Year Trends in Minority Degree Production

By Borden, Victor M. H. | Black Issues in Higher Education, May 30, 1996 | Go to article overview

Five-Year Trends in Minority Degree Production


Borden, Victor M. H., Black Issues in Higher Education


Five-year Trends in Minority Degree Production.

STATISTICAL ANALYSIS

For the past five years, I have prepared listings of the colleges and universities across the United States that confer the most degrees to students of color for Black Issues In Higher Education.

Against a backdrop of rapid social change and the increasing economic importance of a college degree, I researched this national degree-completion data over a five-year period from 1988-89 through 1992-93 in search of change. During this period, the total number of annual degrees conferred, from associate to doctorate, increased by just over 17 percent -- from approximately 1.9 million to 2.2 million. This works out to an average annual percentage increase of 4.1 percent.

During this five-year period, the average annual percentage increase in degrees conferred to minorities and non-U.S. citizens has more than doubled the growth rate among degrees conferred to white students as illustrated in Figure 1. The minority growth rate ranged from 7.7 percent annually for African Americans to 9.3 percent for Hispanics. However, as Figure 2 illustrates, these percentage increases have not altered significantly the gap between the trend lines.

The modest effect of this higher growth rate in degrees conferred to minorities is further demonstrated by examining the distribution of degrees by race at the beginning and end of this time period. Table 2 provides this comparison.

The percentage of all degrees going to white students has decreased from just under 79 percent to just over 76 percent, while the percentage awarded to minorities has increased from about 14 percent to 16 percent.

With the aggregate changes in distribution looking fairly modest, I explored change in distribution among various types of institutions. Table 3 illustrates these differences according to three institutional characteristics: affiliation (public, private-non-sectarian, private-sectarian); level (4-year or more vs. 2-year) and Carnegie classification.

The first column of Table 3 shows that there was very little change in the distribution of total degrees conferred across institutional types. For only one factor did the distribution change by more than one percentage point: 2-year institutions picked up 1.2 percentage points in degree share compared to 4-year colleges and universities.

Change Among Different Types of Institutions

There were larger shifts in minority degree production by institutional type. For example, African-American degree production shifted toward public institutions and away from private, non-sectarian ones. On the other hand, Asian-American degree production shifted away from private, sectarian colleges and universities and toward public and private non-sectarian ones. Throughout this period, larger percentages of Native Americans completed their college studies at public institutions compared to any other racial/ethnic group.

Looking at degree distribution by Carnegie classification reveals less about shifts in racial/ethnic distribution over the five years and more about sustained differences. Overall, more than 60 percent of all degrees are offered in relatively equal proportions by three types of institutions: Research I, Master's I and Associate of Arts. This has not changed over the five-year period. Furthermore, all minorities combined reflect this same overall pattern. There are some clear differences among minority groups. For example, proportionately fewer African-American and Hispanic students graduate from Research I institutions (around 15 percent compared to 20 percent overall) while higher percentages of Asian Americans (33 percent) graduated from Research I Institutions. It also appears that Native Americans are almost non-existent among the graduating class of Research I institutions. On the other hand, nearly one-quarter of all degrees conferred to African Americans, Hispanics and Native Americans come from associate degree-granting institutions. …

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