TOP 100 GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL DEGREE PRODUCERS – INTERPRETING THE DATA - Higher Education

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TOP 100 GRADUATE AND PROFESSIONAL DEGREE PRODUCERS – INTERPRETING THE DATA

by Victor M. H. Borden

Two of three U.S. citizens or permanent residents are not people of color; that is, they are non-Hispanic Caucasians. In academic year 2006-07, 55 percent of doctoral degree recipients were in that group. Only 15 percent of doctoral degree recipients were persons of color, either U.S. citizens or permanent residents. The astute reader will read between these lines and realize that the missing group in this consideration is foreign national students. Nearly one-third (30 percent) of all doctoral degree recipients in the most recent year for which national data are available, 2006-07, were in a category the National Center for Education Statistics calls “non-resident alien” students; that is, they were not U.S. citizens or permanent residents.

In this year’s analysis of the Top 100 minority producers of postbaccalaureate degrees — master’s, first professional and doctoral degrees — we continue our tradition of celebrating the colleges and universities in the United States that confer the largest number of graduate and professional degrees to students of color. We also continue our tradition of examining in more depth certain aspects of the graduate/professional degree landscape. Specifically this year we examine minority group share of master’s, first professional and doctoral degrees, and the type of institutions from which students of color receive degrees compared to those White students choose. We use one of the new classification schemes developed by the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning. But before doing so, we are obliged to present you with some of the gory details about how these tables and analyses are derived.

Methodology

Each year, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) collects from all U.S. postsecondary institutions a wide array of data, including the number of completions (degrees and awards) conferred by race/ethnicity, gender, award level and field of study. These data become part of the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data Set (IPEDS). The tables in this edition of the Top 100 analysis reflect degrees conferred during the 2006-2007 academic year that have been reported as of mid March 2008. As we noted in the undergraduate Top 100 issue (see Diverse, June 12), these preliminary data are complete and accurate for those institutions included in the analysis and represent the vast majority of U.S. four-year colleges and universities.

The “field of study” component of the completions survey employs the Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) codes developed by NCES as a common taxonomy for all colleges and universities. As you might imagine, there is some inconsistency among institutions regarding how they categorize their diverse and often unique degree programs into this taxonomy. Despite these inconsistencies, the CIP code system is a comprehensive and fairly stable taxonomy that is updated regularly to reflect changes in curricula.

Racial/ethnic identity is based on students’ self-reports that institutions must subsequently “map” to the standard federal categories: U.S. citizens or permanent residents are categorized as Black, non- Hispanic; American Indian or Alaskan Native; Asian or Pacific Islander; Hispanic; White, non-Hispanic; and race/ethnicity unknown. All non-U.S. citizens who are not permanent residents are categorized as non-resident alien, regardless of their race/ethnicity.

From among all the institutions that participate in the IPEDS survey, we include in this analysis only those located in the 50 United States and the District of Columbia. We exclude institutions from U.S. territories and protectorates, including Puerto Rico, Guam, Formosa, etc., as well as U.S. military service schools. We also include only those institutions that are eligible for Title IV federal funding by virtue of being accredited by a regional or specialized agency that is recognized by the U.S. Department of Education.

Institutions are ranked in these lists according to the total number of degrees awarded to minority students across all disciplines and in a select set of specific disciplines. Each list includes totals for the prior year (2005-06) and the current year (2006-07) and counts for males and females. Two percentage columns round out each list. The first percentage indicates how the number of the minority category degree recipients compares to all degree recipients at that institution within that discipline, and the final column indicates the percentage change in that minority group’s number of graduates at that institution from the prior year.

One-hundred institutions, more or less, are included in the total lists for each degree level (master’s, first professional and doctoral), for each and all minority groups. The disciplinary lists contain typically, but not always, 50 institutions each. A given list may have slightly fewer or more institutions because of ties in the rankings.

Minority Share of Graduate Degrees

In prior year Top 100 analyses, we have noted how the representation of African-Americans and Hispanics tends to decline with increasing degree levels. The first two charts of this analysis show that this is still the case with one notable exception. African-Americans compose roughly 12 percent of the U.S. population and are represented among associate degree recipients at this same level. The level of African-American representation declines to just over 9 percent for bachelor’s degree recipients but increases to over 10 percent among master’s degree recipients. The downward trend is then notable in the first professional (7 percent) and doctoral degrees (6.1 percent). Hispanics show the consistent downward trend we’ve noted in past years, ranging from just under 12 percent among associate degree recipients to just over 3 percent for doctoral degree recipients.

American Indians represent just over 1 percent of associate degree recipients but less than 1 percent of all other degree level awardees. However, representation among first professional degree recipients is actually the highest at 1 percent. American Indian representation among doctoral degree recipients is at less than one-half of 1 percent. Asian Americans have a much different pattern of representation. They are found in lowest proportion among associate degree recipients (5 percent), in slightly higher proportion among master’s and doctoral degree recipients (6 percent and 5.7 percent, respectively), higher still among bachelor’s degree recipients (7 percent), and then significantly higher among first professional degree recipients (13 percent).

The scale of the charts has to be expanded to accommodate the last two racial/ethnic groups: non-resident aliens and Whites. Non-resident aliens, that is, foreign students, have the most striking representational pattern. They compose between 2 and 3 percent of associate, bachelor’s and first professional degree recipients but are found in much higher proportions among master’s degree recipients (13 percent) and, as noted in the introduction to this article, especially among doctoral degree recipients (30 percent). The pattern of representation among White students can be viewed as complementary to the composite of the other groups. That is, White rep-esentation hovers around 70 percent, but is lower among associate degree recipients, where African-Americans and Hispanics are represented in relatively large proportions. White representation is also lower among master’s degree recipients, where proportions for both African-Americans and nonresident aliens are relatively high. White representation is relatively low among doctoral degree recipients, where non-resident alien representation is especially strong.

Types of Institutions

The Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching and Learning has maintained a set of institutional classifications since 1973 for research and policy analysis. Until the most recent update in 2005, the Carnegie Classification was a single, hierarchical set of categories that revolved mostly around degree level: E.g., associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral/ research, with a few categories for institutions with specialized missions. The 2005 classification update introduced five additional sets of categories: undergraduate instructional program, graduate instructional program, enrollment profile; undergraduate profile; and size and setting. That is, each institution is placed into a category of these new classifications and is categorized in the latest version of the Carnegie Classification, now known as the “basic classification.” But that’s not all. The foundation is also developing new voluntary, mission-based classifications, beginning with one that is based on “Community Engagement” and moving to a “Teaching and Learning” classification.

For the current analysis we focus on just one of these new classification schemes: The Graduate Instructional Program classification. This classification focuses on the mix of graduate degree levels and the mix of disciplinary areas within which these degrees are awarded. In its full articulation there are 18 categories in this classification (for a full description, see http://www.carnegiefoundation.org / classifications/ index.asp?key=787). We have chosen to reduce these to seven categories for examining master’s and first professional degree conferrals and five categories for examining doctoral degree conferrals.

Within this classification, there is first a gross distinction as to whether the institution offers any doctoral degree or just master’s and/or first professional degrees. Institutions that serve a single purpose, such as free standing schools of law or medicine, are all combined into a third general category called “Special Focus” institutions. If an institution offers even one doctoral degree, it is classified within one of the doctoral categories. In fact, those with just one such program are placed into the “single degree” doctoral category. Within the full 18 category system, the single degree doctoral institutions are further divided according to whether that degree is in education or another field.

In addition to the “single degree” category, doctoral institutions are considered focused degrees, degrees within a select set of disciplines. The full classification includes three disciplinary focuses: humanities/social sciences, STEM disciplines, or professional disciplines) and comprehensive category. The full classification has two versions: with and without medical/veterinary programs.

Institutions that have no doctoral degrees (here called “master’s” institutions) also have the single degree and comprehensive categories, with the full classification having three and four subcategories, respectively. The final group is a set of “professional dominant” program mix institutions, with three subgroups in the full classification, depending on whether the dominance is in education, business or any other field.

The table included in this analysis examines the distribution of master’s, first professional and doctoral degrees awarded to Whites and to students of color across this classification scheme (see pg. 23). For each degree level, the first row of the table shows the proportional representation of each racial/ethnic for that level. For example, for master’s degrees, the first row shows that 59 percent were conferred to White students, 9 percent to African-American students, and so on. The row total will always be less than 100 percent because non-resident aliens are excluded from the table.

Within the remaining rows of each section, cells are highlighted among the racial/ethnic minority categories if they differ significantly from the distribution among White students. Specifically, if a proportional representation is 3 to 6 percentage points below the level for Whites, the cell is highlighted in pink. If the proportion is 6 or more percentage points lower than the proportion for Whites, the cell is highlighted in a deeper red with white lettering. Conversely, if the proportion for a racial/ethnic minority group is 3 to 6 percentage points above the level for Whites, the cell is highlighted in a light green and if it is 6 or more percentage points higher than Whites, it is highlighted in a darker green.

For master’s degrees, this highlighting pattern reveals, for example, that African-American students are far more likely to receive a master’s degree from a “single degree doctoral” institution than are non-Hispanic Whites. Specifically, 17 percent of master’s degrees awarded to African-Americans were conferred by institutions that award a doctoral degree in only one discipline, compared to only 10 percent of master’s degrees conferred to White students. At the same time, African-American students were much less likely than Whites to receive a master’s degree from institutions that award doctoral degrees across a comprehensive set of disciplines (i.e., the traditional, large public and private research universities). Asian Americans, on the other hand, were far more likely to receive master’s degrees from the comprehensive doctoral universities than Whites (and therefore, far more so than African- Americans). Hispanics were somewhat less likely than Whites to receive a master’s degree from a comprehensive doctoral university but more likely than any other group to receive a master’s degree from a doctoral institution with a focused doctoral program mix.

Between 40 and 50 percent of first professional degrees awarded within each group were from an institution with comprehensive doctoral programs. This proportion was slightly lower for African-Americans compared to Whites but slightly higher for American Indians compared to Whites. Special Focus institutions, such as schools of law and medicine, conferred the next largest share of first professional degrees, typically between one-quarter and one-third. These institutions contributed especially to first professional degree conferrals to Asian Americans but less so to American Indians and Hispanics. Hispanics were again more likely to get this type of degree from institutions with focused doctoral degree programs.

When looking at doctoral degree conferrals, the three categories of master’s level institutions are collapsed into one group, which seemingly, by definition, should not offer any doctoral degrees. However, they do contribute a very small number as noted in the final section of the table. Four major disparities appear in the doctoral degree statistics. Both African-Americans and American Indians are significantly more likely to obtain a doctoral degree from an institution with focused doctoral programs. African- Americans are far less likely and Asian Americans far more likely to receive a doctoral degree from an institution with a comprehensive range of such programs.

A few general findings emerge from this analysis. First and foremost, it appears that African-Americans are underserved and Asian Americans overserved by doctoral institutions with the most comprehensive degree programs. Conversely, African-Americans and Hispanics tend to obtain graduate degree awards from institutions with single or focused doctoral programs. We also note that American Indians appear to be underserved by specialty professional schools, which may be related in part to the geographic distribution of these institutions in relation to American Indian populations.

More research is needed to fully understand racial/ethnic representation across the diverse array of postsecondary institutions across the United States. The more complex, multi-dimensional classification released by the Carnegie Foundation in 2005 provides a new set of tools toward this end, and the present analysis shows some interesting emergent patterns. These findings also provide a context for examining the Top 100 lists that appear in the remainder of this issue. Although they are often among the largest institutions conferring the largest number of degrees, the relatively low representation suggests that elite, comprehensive research universities do not play as dominant a role in contributing to the highest levels of education of African- Americans as they do for members of other racial/ethnic groups. Unfortunately, these institutions are the major feeders for the professoriate, which underscores the continuing difficulty in diversifying faculty ranks, at least for the African-American population. The nation’s top research universities are generally aware of this situation, and many are taking aggressive steps to address this disparity. We will continue to monitor the numbers to see if these efforts make a difference.

— Dr. Victor M. H. Borden is associate vice president and associate professor at Indiana University.

 

Top 100 Graduate Degree Producers

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