Wednesday, January 30, 2013

Emerging Black Academic Elites ... (modified ... 4/4/13)

In previous notes on this blog, I have cautioned HBCUs against framing their continuing relevance to the nation's well-being in terms of their historically disproportionate contributions to the production of black graduates. For example, nowadays less than 10 percent of the nation's black American undergraduate students attend HBCUs; more than 90 percent attend non-HBCUs.

The current note shifts attention to the highest level, to the production of research-oriented doctoral degrees. Once again, my data comes from the IPEDS database maintained by the U.S. Department of Education ... http://nces.ed.gov/ipeds/datacenter/
  • Research-oriented doctoral degrees do not include professional doctorates, e.g., medicine (MD), dentistry (DDS), pharmacy (PharmD), law (JD), etc. These non-research degrees provide  students with credentials that confirm their acquisition of the academic training the need to become competent practitioners in these professions. By contrast, PhDs and other research-oriented doctorates indicate a student's capacity to make contributions to society's knowledge base via original research.
It will be seen that nowadays HBCUs educate less than ten percent of the black Americans who receive research-oriented doctorates; but readers may be surprised by the outsized role played by for-profit universities. For-profits have become a major training ground for America's black academic elites.

Table A. Sources of Black Research-Oriented Doctorates

Year
Source
N
Sum
% of Total
Max
AY 2008
HBCUs
4
51
9.2%
27
AY 2008
For-profits
3
108
19.5%
73
AY 2008
Total
66
554
100.0%
73






AY 2011
HBCUs
24
306
8.1%
55
AY 2011
For-profits
34
727
19.3%
223
AY 2011
Total
395
3768
100.0%
223

A few key points to note in the data shown in Table A include:
  • As shown in the third and fourth columns, four HBCUs conferred 51 research-oriented doctorates to black Americans in Academic Year 2007-2008; three for-profit institutions conferred 108 research-oriented doctorates to black Americans; and 66 universities of all kinds conferred 554 research-oriended doctorates.
     
  • For-profits conferred more than twice as many research-oriented doctorates to black Americans than HBCUs in AY 2007-2008, i.e., 108 vs 51. Indeed, one for-profit institution conferred 73 of these doctorates, more than any other university of any kind.
     
  • In Academic Year 2010-2011, six times as many universities conferred research-oriented doctorates on black Americans than in AY 2007-08, i.e., 395 vs. 66; and the total number of doctorates conferred increased seven-fold, i.e., from 554 to 3,768.
     
  • In Academic Year 2010-2011, for-profits again conferred more than twice as many research-oriented doctorates as HBCUs, 727 vs. 306. And again a for-profit institution conferred more research-oriented doctorates on black Americans than any other university of any kind, i.e., 223 (Note: Table B, below, identifies Capella University as this maximum provider.)
     
  • In both academic years, for-profits accounted for roughly 19 percent of the research-oriented doctorates conferred by any university on black Americans, whereas the HBCU share declined slightly from roughly 9 to 8 percent.

Table B. Top 10 Producers of Black Research-Oriented Doctorates in Academic Year 2011

University
N
Type
Capella University Minneapolis MN
223
For-Profit
Nova Southeastern University Fort Lauderdale FL
174
Non-Profit
University of Phoenix-Online Campus Phoenix AZ
164
For-Profit
Walden University Minneapolis MN
111
For-Profit
Argosy University-Sarasota Sarasota FL
84
For-Profit
Howard University Washington DC
55
HBCU
Liberty University Lynchburg VA
55
Non-Profit
Argosy University-Atlanta Atlanta GA
50
For-Profit
University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor MI
44
Non-Profit
Texas A & M University-College Station College Station TX
42
Non-Profit


Finally, there is a powerful, disruptive irony lurking beneath these considerations, especially at the higher levels of the academic ladders, an irony made all the more powerful because online programs enjoy such disproportionately high black enrollments.  Online courses and programs require stronger academic skills -- higher motivation, a greater capacity to study alone, better time management skills, stronger fundamental math and language skills, and stronger study skills -- than to achieve comparable success in face-to-face or blended courses. 

If colleges and universities hold students in online programs to standards of learning that are comparable to the standards imposed on the students in their on-campus programs, the members of the Talented Tenth emerging from these online programs are likely to be intellectually tougher than the traditional elites because they will have traveled rougher roads to graduation. To be sure, the traditional black academic elites will continue to look down on the online elites for a while ... until they find their gritty online brethren passing them on the equal terrains of the workplace at unexpectedly high speeds ... :-)

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Related Notes: