4. Science and engineering doctoral candidates slowly diversify

Doctoral degrees earned by race/ethnicity, 2019
Data: NSF Survey of Earned Doctorates, U.S. Census Bureau; Chart: Connor Rothschild/Axios

Students from underrepresented communities are earning more Ph.D.s, yet doctoral degrees in science and engineering are still overwhelmingly conferred on white students, according to an analysis from the National Science Foundation.

Why it matters: Today's doctoral candidates are tomorrow's teachers, mentors and researchers who can help the next generation of students see themselves as scientists and guide the areas they explore.

By the numbers: In 2019, nearly 70% of doctorate recipients who were U.S. citizens or permanent residents were white.

  • 10% were Asian, 8% were Latino, 7% were Black and 3% identified as more than one race.
  • Blacks, Latinos and Native Americans earned about 5,500 doctorates in 2019, a 6.7% jump from 2018.

Black, Latino and Native American students are least likely to have a parent with a bachelor's degree or higher, and often enter programs with an immense lack of diversity — two major factors that block the pipeline to higher education.

  • About 75% of doctorate recipients who were Asian or white came from families with at least one parent with some type of degree in higher education, compared with between 49% and 59% of doctorate recipients who were Black, Latino or Native American.
Previous StoryNext Story