Humanities Indicators
Facebook Twitter YouTube
Higher Education  >  Undergraduate and Graduate Degree Information for Specific Humanities Disciplines
 
Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Degrees in Religion
(Updated April 2016)

Since 2007, the academic study of religion has experienced substantial growth in the share of minorities receiving undergraduate and master’s degrees, a phenomenon driven largely by increasing representation of African Americans.

Findings and Trends

  • In 2014, traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities received approximately 17.5% of all bachelor’s degrees in religion, the largest share ever recorded and more than double the percentage in 1996 (8.5%; Indicator II-25d). Much of the growth occurred from 2007 to 2011, when the share rose sharply from 10% to 16% before rising more slowly to the 2014 level.
  • Much of the spurt in the growth in the share of traditionally underrepresented minorities earning bachelor’s degrees in religion is due to an increase in the share of African Americans earning the degree, from 5.3% of the degree recipients in 2007 to 10.4% in 2011. While the share of African American’s subsequently plateaued, the share of Hispanic degree recipients grew from 5.3% in 2011 to 6.9% in 2014.
  • The share of traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic minorities earning master’s degrees in the academic study of religion more than doubled from 2007 to 2014, rising from 9.4% to 22.3% (Indicator II-25e). As was true at the bachelor’s level, almost all of the growth can be attributed to an increase in the percentage of African Americans earning such degrees. These students’ share rose from 5.8% to 17.4% over the same time period. In comparison, the share of Hispanics increased from 3.3% to 4.4%.
  • Given the relatively small number of doctoral degrees conferred each year in the discipline (about 225), small changes in the number of graduates in any particular category can create substantial changes in the trend lines. The share of traditionally underrepresented minorities earning religion degrees had been trending downward until a burst in 2014 lifted the share from 6.4% to 11.4% (Indicator II-25f). The 2014 level was close to the high of 11.7% recorded in 2006, but those two years were unusual. The median share over the 1995–2014 time period was 7.8%.
  • While the share of traditionally underrepresented minorities has been growing among religion degree recipients at the bachelor’s and master’s levels, the share of “temporary residents” (students from other nations who come to study in the United States) has been falling. Among undergraduate degree recipients, the share fell from 3% in 1995 to 1% in 2014, and from 10.4% to 4.6% among master’s degree recipients. At the doctoral level, the decline was not as pronounced, with the share declining from 11.3% to 9.6%.
II-25d: Percentages of Bachelor’s Degrees in Religion Awarded to Members of Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, 1995–2014*

* Degree shares do not include second majors.
** Includes students who are citizens or permanent residents and who are identified by their institutions as African American (non-Hispanic), American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic.
† Students counted under “Racial/Ethnic Minorities” minus Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The IPEDS data were accessed and analyzed via the National Science Foundation’s online science and engineering resources data system, WebCASPAR.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/indII-25d.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/indII-25d.ppt../cmsData/pdf/indII-25d.pdf
II-25e: Percentages of Master’s Degrees in Religion Awarded to Members of Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, 1995–2014

* Includes students who are citizens or permanent residents and who are identified by their institutions as African American (non-Hispanic), American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic.
** Students counted under “Racial/Ethnic Minorities” minus Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The IPEDS data were accessed and analyzed via the National Science Foundation’s online science and engineering resources data system, WebCASPAR.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/indII-25e.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/indII-25e.ppt../cmsData/pdf/indII-25e.pdf
II-25f: Percentages of Doctoral Degrees in Religion Awarded to Members of Racial/Ethnic Minority Groups, 1995–2014

* Includes students who are citizens or permanent residents and who are identified by their institutions as African American (non-Hispanic), American Indian/Alaska Native, Asian/Pacific Islander, or Hispanic.
** Students counted under “Racial/Ethnic Minorities” minus Asians and Pacific Islanders.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS). The IPEDS data were accessed and analyzed via the National Science Foundation’s online science and engineering resources data system, WebCASPAR.

About this DataRelated Indicators
../cmsData/xls/indII-25f.xlsx../cmsData/ppt/indII-25f.ppt../cmsData/pdf/indII-25f.pdf