Humanities Indicators
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Higher Education  >  Graduate Education
 
Racial/Ethnic Distribution of Advanced Degrees in the Humanities
(Updated April 2015)

The percentage of advanced degrees in the humanities awarded to students from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups increased from 1995 to 2013 but was generally lower than the percentage for higher education as a whole.

Findings and Trends

  • In 2013, the share of humanities master’s degrees awarded to students from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups was 13.7%, up from 7.9% in 1995 (Indicator II-12a). The percentage has grown in nine of the ten most recent years.
  • At the master’s level, the share of humanities degrees going to members of traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups was generally 2 to 3.5 percentage points smaller than the share for all fields during the 1995–2013 period.
  • In 2013, the share of humanities doctorates completed by students from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups was 9.9%, almost four percentage points higher than in 1995 but down from the historic high of 10.7% in 2007 (Indicator II-12b).
  • At the doctoral level, the percentage of humanities degrees awarded to members of traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups from 1995 to 2010 was consistently close to the percentage for all fields combined, rising above the share for all fields in eight of sixteen years. In 2011, the humanities’ share fell 1.9 percentage points below the share for all fields combined, the largest gap on record, and over the next two years the gap remained near 1.0%.
  • In 2013, the humanities field had a larger percentage of advanced degree recipients classified as white and as permanent residents of the country than did other fields. Among master’s and professional-practice degree recipients, 64.7% were identified by their institutions as white and as permanent residents (second only to the education field; Indicator II-12c). Among the fields examined here, humanities also had the largest percentage of white permanent residents among its doctoral degree recipients (60.1%), 11 percentage points higher than white permanent residents share for all fields combined (Indicator II-12d).
  • The humanities conferred in 2013 comparatively small proportions of degrees to international students residing in the United States on temporary visas. At the master’s level, 8.0% of the students were identified as temporary residents, 3.8 percentage points below the share for all fields combined and lower than all other fields with the exception of education. At the doctoral level, 16.8% of humanities graduates were identified as temporary residents, 10.7 percentage points below the share for all fields (only education had a smaller share).
  • In 2013, the humanities awarded one of the smallest shares of master’s degrees to African American students (5.2%) but awarded one of the higher shares to Hispanics (7.9%).
  • In 2013, African Americans completed 3.4% of all doctorates in the humanities, a markedly smaller share than in the education field and slightly larger than the shares for engineering and fine arts. The field awarded a larger share of doctorates to Hispanics (6.1%) than all but the education and behavioral/social science fields.
  • In 2013, the humanities awarded 3.0% of its master’s degrees (a smaller share than for every other field except education) and 3.3% of its doctorates (a smaller share than for all other fields) to students of Asian or Pacific Islander descent.
  • At 0.6%, the share of humanities master’s degrees completed by American Indian or Alaska Native students was greater than the proportion in every other field. At the doctoral level, the humanities and education, both awarding 0.7% of their degrees to American Indian or Alaska Native students, were the fields in which such students were likeliest to earn a degree.
  • Among the humanities disciplines, ethnic, gender, and cultural studies was the most likely to award an advanced degree to a member of a traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic group—by a wide margin (Indicator II-12e and Indicator II-12f). In 2013, 33.5% of the students earning master’s degrees and 40.6% of the students receiving doctoral degrees in the discipline were members of a traditionally underrepresented group.
  • Ethnic, gender, and cultural studies was the only humanities discipline with a smaller percentage of graduates from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups among its master’s degree recipients in 2013 than in 1995. (The small number of students from traditionally underrepresented groups receiving advanced degrees in some disciplines means that relatively small year-to-year changes in the number of degree completions translate into dramatic percentage increases and decreases. As a result, for certain years during the 1995–2013 time period some disciplines saw a share of degrees going to traditionally underrepresented ethnic/racial minorities that was substantially higher or lower than the most recent [2013] share. “Spiky” data of this kind makes the identification of trends difficult.)
  • At the doctoral level, the fields of classical studies; ethnic, gender, and cultural studies; and religion each had a smaller percentage of graduates from traditionally underrepresented racial/ethnic groups in 2013 than in 1995. (Please see the bullet above for a caution regarding the interpretation of “spiky” data.)
II-12a: Percentage of Master’s and Professional-Practice 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-12b: Percentage of Doctoral 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-12c: Racial/Ethnic Distribution of 2013 Master’s and Professional-Practice 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-12d: Racial/Ethnic Distribution of 2013 Doctoral 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-12e: Percentage of Master’s Degrees Awarded to Members of Traditionally Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Groups,* Selected Humanities Disciplines, 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-12f: Percentage of Doctoral Degrees Awarded to Members of Traditionally Underrepresented Racial/Ethnic Groups,* Selected Humanities Disciplines, 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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