Humanities Indicators
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Higher Education  >  Undergraduate Education
 
Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Bachelor's Degrees in the Humanities
(Updated April 2015)

The proportion of students from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups earning bachelor’s degrees in the humanities has risen since 1995, and as of 2013 the field was approaching parity with higher education as a whole.

Findings and Trends

  • The share of humanities bachelor’s degrees awarded to students from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups[1] rose by almost a fourth from 1995 to 2000. Growth then stagnated before increasing almost three percentage points from 2009 to 2013 (Indicator II-4a). The period from 2000 to 2009 was one of relative stasis, with the share of degrees earned by such students increasing only 1.5 percentage points.
  • Throughout the 1995–2013 period, the humanities’ share of bachelor’s degrees awarded to traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups closely tracked the share for all fields combined. In 2013, the percentage of humanities degrees awarded to such students, 19.9%, was similar to that for all fields (20.3%).
  • When compared to the share of degrees awarded to traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in other academic fields in 2013, the humanities share (19.9%) was most similar to that of the natural sciences and business (18.3% and 20.6% respectively). The largest share was found in the behavioral and social sciences (24.2%) and the smallest in engineering (15.1%).
  • In 2013, Hispanics were the best represented among minority bachelor’s degree recipients in the humanities, earning 11.1% of all degrees completed in the field—slightly above the 10.4% for all fields (Indicator II-4b). Only the behavioral and social sciences awarded a greater share of their degrees to Hispanic students.
  • African American students received 8.1% of all humanities bachelor’s degrees in 2013, below the 9.3% recorded for all fields combined.
  • In 2013, the humanities had one of the smallest proportions of both Asian/Pacific Islander (4.5%) and temporary-resident (1.6%) degree recipients at the bachelor’s level. The humanities, like all other fields, awarded only a small percentage of bachelor’s degrees, 0.7%, to students of American Indian or Native Alaskan ancestry.
  • Among the humanities disciplines, the field of ethnic, gender, and cultural studies awarded the largest share of degrees to traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups (46.4% in 2013; Indicator II-4c). All other humanities disciplines conferred 25% or less of their degrees on students from traditionally underrepresented groups.
  • The share of traditionally underrepresented students receiving humanities degrees increased by a third or more from 1995 to 2013 in every humanities field except ethnic, gender, and cultural studies (where the share of such students remained essentially stable). The largest percentage increase occurred in classical studies, where the share of traditionally underrepresented students almost doubled, rising from 5.0% to 9.4% of the degrees conferred.
II-4a: Percentage of Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded to Members of Traditionally Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Groups,* Selected Academic Fields, 1995–2013

* Includes students who were citizens or permanent residents and identified by their educational institutions as African American (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Data System; accessed via the National Science Foundation’s online data system, WebCASPAR.

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II-4b: Racial/Ethnic Distribution of 2013 Bachelor’s Degree Recipients, Selected Academic Fields
Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Data System; accessed via the National Science Foundation’s online data system, WebCASPAR.
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II-4c: Percentage of Bachelor’s Degrees Awarded to Members of Traditionally Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Groups,* by Humanities Discipline, 1995–2013

* Includes students who were citizens or permanent residents and identified by their educational institutions as African American (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native.

Source: U.S. Department of Education, Institute of Education Sciences, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Data System; accessed via the National Science Foundation’s online data system, WebCASPAR.

About this DataRelated Indicators
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Endnotes

[1] Includes students who were citizens or permanent residents and identified by their educational institutions as African American (non-Hispanic), Hispanic, or American Indian/Alaska Native.