Field of degree: Minorities



Despite considerable progress over the past two decades, the gap in educational attainment separating underrepresented minorities from whites and Asians remains wide. In general, underrepresented minorities are less likely than whites and Asians to graduate from high school, enroll in college, and earn a college degree. Among underrepresented minorities who do graduate from college, the overall degree patterns are similar to those of whites. Asians are more likely than whites and underrepresented minorities to earn a college degree in a science and engineering (S&E) field. Although whites' share of S&E degrees has declined over the past 2 decades, they continue to earn a majority of degrees in all broad S&E fields.

Thumbnail of chart showing Degrees earned by underrepresented minorities Overall. Thumbnail of chart showing Degrees earned by underrepresented minorities Bachelor's degrees in science and engineering. Thumbnail of chart showing Degrees earned by Asians Overall. Thumbnail of chart showing Degrees earned by Asians Bachelor's degrees in science and engineering.

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Degrees earned by underrepresented minorities: 1993–2012
NOTE: Data not available for 1999.

Degrees earned by underrepresented minorities

Overall

In 2012, nearly one in six adults with a bachelor's degree or higher was a member of an underrepresented minority group. Underrepresented minorities, like whites, earn a higher share of non-S&E degrees than of S&E degrees, particularly at the master's and doctoral levels. Underrepresented minorities' share of S&E bachelor's and master's degrees has been rising since 1993, but their share of doctorates in these fields has flattened at about 7% for the past 10 years.

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Science and engineering bachelor's degrees earned by underrepresented minorities, by field: 1993–2012
NOTE: Data not available for 1999.

Degrees earned by underrepresented minorities

Bachelor's degrees in science and engineering

Since 1993, the greatest increases in the share of S&E bachelor's degrees earned by underrepresented minorities have been in psychology, the social sciences, computer sciences, and biological sciences. Since 2000, underrepresented minorities' shares in engineering and in physical sciences have been flat, and their share in mathematics and statistics has dropped.

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Degrees earned by Asians: 1993–2012
NOTE: Data not available for 1999.

Degrees earned by Asians

Overall

Asians earn a roughly similar share of all S&E degrees at the master's and doctoral degree levels and a slightly higher share at the bachelor's degree level. Unlike underrepresented minorities and whites, Asians earn a higher proportion of S&E degrees than of non-S&E degrees at all degree levels. The proportion of Asians earning S&E degrees rose in the 1990s but has been relatively steady over the past decade.

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Science and engineering bachelor's degrees earned by Asians, by field: 1993–2012
NOTE: Data not available for 1999.

Degrees earned by Asians

Bachelor's degrees in science and engineering

Although Asians' share of S&E degrees has been steady over the past decade, major shifts by field have occurred in bachelor's degrees: most pronounced are a drop in computer sciences and increases in the physical and biological sciences. Asians' share in the other S&E fields has been fairly stable in the past 10 years.

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