by Joan Burrelli and Alan Rapoport
In a February 2008 article in the Washington Post, the presidents of four Maryland historically black institutions raised the issue of the role and relevance of historically black institutions in enhancing educational opportunities for African Americans (Avery et al 2008). This InfoBrief partially addresses this issue by examining the role of historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) as baccalaureate-origin institutions of black science and engineering (S&E) doctorate recipients. It examines trends primarily during the past two decades and compares HBCUs to non-HBCU institutions, to different Carnegie types of institutions, and to a select group of baccalaureate colleges—the Oberlin 50 (minus Hampton University which is an HBCU). The InfoBrief also examines differences between public and private institutions. The analysis focuses on two types of output variables: the absolute number of doctorates and the institutional yield—the number of S&E doctorates in a given year per thousand bachelor's degrees awarded in all fields 9 years (the median time from bachelor's-to-doctorate receipt for S&E doctorates) prior to that year.
In the late 1970s over 40% of black S&E doctorate recipients received their baccalaureate degrees from HBCUs. This percentage fell to 25% in the first part of the 1990s before increasing to about 33% in 2006. During the same period (1977–2006), the share of blacks receiving bachelor's degrees from HBCUs fell from 36% to 21% (figure 1).
Figure 1 Source Data: Excel file
Baccalaureate-Origin Institutions of Black S&E Doctorate Recipients
Black S&E doctorate recipients from U.S. universities complete their undergraduate education at a wide variety of types of institutions in the United States. A small proportion of blacks earning S&E doctorates from U.S. universities had undergraduate degrees from foreign institutions, 8% in 2006 (table 1). An additional 2% did not provide information about their baccalaureate institutions in 2006. Of those with known U.S. baccalaureate institutions, in 2006 a third earned their bachelor's degrees from an HBCU institution and the remainder earned their bachelor's degrees from non-HBCU institutions. The percentage of S&E doctorate recipients earning their bachelor's degrees from HBCUs ranged between 24% and 33% from 1986 to 2006. Among those earning their baccalaureate degrees at known U.S. institutions in 2006 slightly less than one-third (31%) earned their bachelor's degrees from a non-HBCU research university. The remainder earned their bachelor's degrees from non-HBCU other doctorate-granting institutions (15%), master's-granting institutions (12%), or baccalaureate colleges (8%). The baccalaureate origin of 4% was an Oberlin 49 institution.
Table 1 Source Data: Excel file
Baccalaureate-Origin Institutions of Black S&E Doctorate Recipients Normalized for Bachelor's Degrees Awarded
Although only one-quarter to one-third of black S&E doctorate recipients received their bachelor's degrees from HBCUs from 1986 to 2006, when normalized by the number of bachelor's degrees awarded, HBCUs as a group yielded about as many future S&E doctorates per thousand bachelor's awarded as non-HBCU institutions during this period. The trends for both groups were similar (figure 2).
Figure 2 Source Data: Excel file
Baccalaureate-Origin Institutions of Black S&E Doctorate Recipients Normalized for Black Bachelor's Degrees Awarded
A recently released InfoBrief showed that although baccalaureate colleges graduate relatively small numbers of undergraduate degree holders compared to doctorate- and master's-granting institutions, when normalized by the number of bachelor's degrees awarded, the baccalaureate colleges as a group yield more future S&E doctorates than other types of institutions, except research universities. Figure 3 shows that for 9 of the 14 years shown, baccalaureate colleges also yielded more future black S&E doctorates than other types of institutions, except research universities. Between 1986 and 1998, both the non-HBCU research universities and the non-HBCU baccalaureate colleges yielded more future black S&E doctorates than the HBCUs. However, between 1999 and 2006, HBCUs and non-HBCU baccalaureate colleges yielded similar numbers of future black S&E doctorates. During this latter period the HBCUs yielded more black S&E doctorates than either non-HBCU other doctorate-granting or non-HBCU master's institutions (figure 3). The yield ratios of all of these types of institutions generally increased between 1986 and the late 1990s, reaching their peak in 1999 or 2000, and have generally declined since then.
Figure 3 Source Data: Excel file
Comparing public and private institutions, private schools, whether non-HBCU research universities, non-HBCU baccalaureate colleges, or HBCUs, outperform comparable public schools in the proportion of their black bachelor's degree recipients becoming future S&E doctorate recipients (figure 4). The number of 2006 black S&E doctorate recipients per thousand black bachelor's degrees awarded in all fields 9 years earlier is highest among private non-HBCU research universities and the Oberlin 49 baccalaureate colleges. Private HBCUs as a group have a yield similar to all private non-HBCU baccalaureate colleges and public non-HBCU research universities (figure 4).
Figure 4 Source Data: Excel file
Top Schools From Which Black S&E Doctorate Recipients Received Bachelor's Degrees
Among known U.S. baccalaureate-origin institutions of 1997–2006 black S&E doctorate recipients, the top 8 and 20 of the top 50 were HBCUs. Another 26 were non-HBCU research universities (table 2). The top 5 baccalaureate-origin institutions of 1997–2006 black S&E doctorate recipients were: Howard University, Spelman College, Hampton University, Florida A&M University, and Morehouse College.
Table 2 Source Data: Excel file
However, after normalizing for the number of bachelor's degrees awarded 9 years earlier, only 5 of the top 50 baccalaureate origin institutions of 1997–2006 black S&E doctorate recipients were HBCUs, with only Spelman College in the top 25. Thirty-two were research universities and 8 were Oberlin 49 colleges (table 3). The top 5 baccalaureate origin institutions in terms of number of black S&E doctorates per thousand bachelor's degrees awarded in all fields 9 years earlier were: Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Swarthmore College, Princeton University, Harvard University, and Amherst College.
For more information, contact Joan Burrelli.
Table 3 Source Data: Excel file
 Joan Burrelli and Alan Rapoport, Science and Engineering Indicators Program, Division of Science Resources Statistics, National Science Foundation, 4201 Wilson Boulevard, Suite 965, Arlington VA 22230 (firstname.lastname@example.org; 703-292-7793).
 In this report, science and engineering includes health fields.
 The 2005 version of the Carnegie Foundation for the Advancement of Teaching's Basic Classification scheme for colleges and universities categorizes academic institutions on the basis of highest degree conferred, level of degree production, and research activity. Doctorate-granting universities are institutions that award at least 20 doctoral degrees per year. These institutions have three subgroups: very high research activity, high research activity, and doctoral/research universities, based on level of research activity. Master's colleges and universities are institutions that award at least 50 master's degrees and fewer than 20 doctoral degrees per year. Baccalaureate colleges are institutions that award fewer than 50 master's degrees or 20 doctoral degrees per year and at which baccalaureate degrees are at least 10% of all undergraduate degrees. See http://www.carnegiefoundation.org/classifications/ for more information on the Carnegie classification scheme.
 The Oberlin 50 is a group of 50 small, private baccalaureate schools that was studied in the mid-1980s and was found at that time to contribute greatly to the production of future S&E doctorates. Hampton University is also an HBCU and is therefore eliminated from the group to obtain the Oberlin 49. The Oberlin 50 institutions are: Albion College, Alma College, Amherst College, Antioch University, Barnard College, Bates College, Beloit College, Bowdoin College, Bryn Mawr College, Bucknell University, Carleton College, Colgate University, Colorado College, Davidson College, Denison University, DePauw University, Earlham College, Franklin and Marshall College, Grinnell College, Hamilton College, Hampton University, Harvey Mudd College, Haverford College, College of the Holy Cross, Hope College, Kalamazoo College, Kenyon College, Lafayette College, Macalester College, Manhattan College, Middlebury College, Mount Holyoke College, Oberlin College, Occidental College, Ohio Wesleyan University, Pomona College, Reed College, Smith College, St. Olaf College, Swarthmore College, Trinity College (CT), Union College (NY), Vassar College, Wabash College, Wellesley College, Wesleyan University, Wheaton College (IL), Whitman College, Williams College, and College of Wooster. Two of these institutions (Hampton University and Manhattan College) are now Carnegie master's-granting institutions.
 The analysis is limited to U.S. citizens and permanent residents since data on bachelor degree conferrals by race/ethnicity are not provided for temporary residents.
 "Baccalaureate Origins of S&E Doctorate Recipients" (NSF 08-311 available at http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf08311/) addressed the role of various types of colleges and universities as baccalaureate-origin institutions of S&E doctorate recipients.
 Only institutions from which more than 10 baccalaureate recipients received S&E doctorate degrees between 1997 and 2006 were included in the analysis.
Avery RS, Burnim ML, Richardson ES, Thompson TS. 2008. Colleges We Can't Afford to Lose. Washington Post. February 17, 2008.
National Science Foundation, Division of Science Resources Statistics. 2008. Baccalaureate Origins of S&E Doctorate Recipients. InfoBrief. NSF 08-311. Arlington, VA.