HBCUs Produce the Most Black Alums Who Receive Doctorates in Science and Engineering

This note provides a closer look at some of the data that was originally presented in a recent report from the National Science Foundation (NSF), "Baccalaureate Origins of U.S.-trained S&E Doctorate Recipients" (Mark K. Fiegener and Steven L. Proudfoot, March 2013):

http://www.nsf.gov/statistics/infbrief/nsf13323

The report answers the question: Which undergraduate institutions produced the most alums who subsequently earned research-oriented doctoral degrees in science and engineering (S&E)???

Whereas the NSF report provides data about the baccalaureate origins of all recipients of doctoral degrees between the years 2002 and 2011, this note focuses on the report's findings about the black recipients of research-oriented doctorates during those years. Many of them graduated from HBCUs. Indeed, 21 HBCUs provided the undergraduate education for 20 percent of all of the black doctorates conferred between 2002 and 2011. 

All of the data in this note was extracted from the NSF report, except for the data about black enrollments in HBCUs, which was obtained from the U.S. Department of Education's "College Navigator" Website.  

In order to make it easier for the reader to identify the  tables in the NSF report that contain all of the data, the tables in this note that only contain the data about HBCUs are given the same numbers as the corresponding NSF tables. Thus this report only contains Tables 5, 6, 7, and 8; but it does not contain any tables numbered 1, 2, 3, or 4.

A.  Sources of Black Doctorates ...  All Undergrad Institutions vs. HBCUs 
The second column in Table 5 (below) shows the total number of black recipients of doctoral degrees in science and engineering from 2002 to 2011. The third column shows the total number of black doctoral recipients who did their undergraduate training at HBCUs during each of those years.
  • As per the last row of the table, 26 percent of the black recipients of doctoral degrees between the years 2002 and 2011 were alums of HBCUs, i.e., 2435 out of 9202.

Table 5. Black Doctoral Recipients Who Were Alums of All Institutions vs. HBCUs  
Year
All institutions
HBCUs
2002
  763
198
2003
  742
196
2004
  863
241
2005
  829
236
2006
  876
260
2007
  908
256
2008
  928
227
2009
1,093
269
2010
1,053
276
2011
1,147
276



Totals
9202
2435
Percent

26%

B. Top 50 Undergraduate Sources of Black S&E Doctorates
Table 6 in the NSF report listed all of the top 50 undergraduate sources of Black S&E doctorates. In other words NSF identified each black recipient of an S&E doctorate, then determined where that recipient received his or her bachelors degree. Then NSF computed the total number of black alums that came from each college. The fifty colleges having the highest number of black alums who received doctorates were listed in the NSF table, together with the number of black alums who received S&E doctorates.

By contrast, Table 6 (below) in this note only lists the HBCUs on the NSF list of top 50; it leaves out all of the non-HBCUs; but it still includes the original rank for each HBCU from the original NSF table. 

The HBCUs are listed in column 2; the "yield", i.e., the number of their black alums who received doctorates between 2002 and 2011 appear in column 3; and their yield rank in the original NSF table appears in column 1. Column 4 shows the number of black undergraduate students who were enrolled in each HBCU during the Fall 2011 semester
  • As can be seen from column 3 of Table 6 (below), HBCUs occupied the top ten positions in the NSF list.

    However it will be seen in Table 8 of this note that Tuskegee tied for 10th place with a non-HBCU, the University of Maryland Baltimore County (UMBC)
     
  • As shown in Table 6 (below), HBCUs occupied 21 of the top 50 positions in the NSF list.
     
  • The 21 HBCUs on this top 50 list produced 1819 alums who subsequently received doctorates in science and engineering (S&E). This represents 20 percent of all of the 9202 black recipients of S&E doctorates (Table 5, above). It also represents 75 percent of the alums of all HBCUs who subsequently received S&E doctorates.
     
  • Howard University, the only Carnegie "High Research" institution in the HBCU community, was the most prolific source of alums who earned S&E doctorates and by a wide margin. Its 220 yield was 26 percent higher than the 175 yield of second place Spelman College.
     
  • The size of  HBCU enrollments was weakly correlated (0.32) with their yields -- which is not surprising. HBCUs that enrolled more black students would tend to produce more black alums, and more black alums would give larger HBCUs more chances to produce black alums who subsequently received doctorates in science and engineering.

Table 6. HBCUs on NSF's List of Top 50 Undergrad Sources of Black S&E Doctorates    
Yield
Rank
HBCUs
(2)
Yield =
Black S&E
 Doctorates
(3)
Fall 2011
Black
Undergrad
Enrollment
(4)
1
Howard University.
220
6808
2
Spelman College
175
1760
3
Florida A&M University
154
10443
4
Hampton University
150
3849
5
Xavier University of Louisiana
126
2101
6
Morehouse College
106
2320
7
Morgan State University
102
5784
7
North Carolina A&T State University
102
7934
9
Southern Univesity and A&M College
100
5414
10
Tuskegee University
80
2327
16
Jackson State University
69
6380
20
Tennessee State University
61
5333
26
Alabama A&M University
50
3936
34
Clark Atlanta University
45
2848
34
Prairie View A&M University
45
5922
37
Tougaloo College
44
917
41
Norfolk State University
41
5568
42
North Carolina Central University
40
5148
45
Grambling State University
39
3857
50
Dillard University
35
1200
50
Fisk University
35
372

Number Top HBCUs
21


Total Black from Top HBCUs
1819


Correlation between doctorates (3) & enrollments (4)
0.32


C. Top 10 U.S. Baccalaureate Institutions In Four Broad Fields of Study
Table 7 (below) shows the top ten baccalaureate sources for black doctorates in four broad fields of study: Life Sciences (column 2), Physical Sciences (column 4), Social Sciences (column 6), and Engineering (column 8). Columns 3, 5, 7, and 9 display the number of alums from each undergraduate school who received doctorates in each field.

Please note the quotations around "HBCU rank" ... This is because (a) there are tied scores scattered throughout the table -- for example, in column 3, Morehouse College and Morgan State University both have 31 alums, so they are tied in 10th place; and (b) some of the institutions in this table are not HBCUs, e.g., UMBC, Harvard, Berkeley, Yale.

Note also that psychology is included in the Social Sciences; and agricultural, biological, biomedical, and health sciences are included in the Life Sciences 

  • HBCUs own the top 10 slots in Life Sciences (columns 2/3) and Physical Sciences (columns 4/5). There are no non-HBCUs in Physical Sciences and only one non-HBCU in Life Sciences, the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC), on these lists.
     
  • The presence of UMBC in a top tier is not surprising given its nationally acclaimed success, under the leadership of its long-time president Dr. Freeman A. Hrabowski, for nurturing high achievements of its black students in STEM. But no one should forget that Dr. Hrabowski was the vice president for academic affairs of an HBCU, Maryland's Coppin State University, for seven years before he became the president of UMBC  ... :-)
     
  • HBCUs hold the top three slots in Social Sciences (columns 6/7), and Engineering (columns 8/9); but non-HBCUs hold 5 of the top 10 slots in each of these two fields. UMBC is one of the non-HBCUs in the Engineering top 10 
     
  • Only two HBCUs, Florida A&M University and Howard University, are on all four top 10 lists; Hampton University, Morehouse College, North Carolina A&T State University, and Spelman College are on three lists. Howard University also enjoys the added distinction of being the number one HBCU on two lists: Social Sciences and Physical Sciences

Table 7. Black Alums from Baccalaureate Institutions in Four Fields
"HBCU
Rank"
Life sciences
(2)

Physical sciences
(4)

Social sciences
(6)

Engineering
(8)

1
Xavier U. LA
74
Howard U.
28
Howard U.
109
NC A&T State U.
48
2
Howard U.
61
Hampton U.
24
Spelman C.
84
FL A&M U.
37
3
Hampton U.
57
Morehouse C.
24
Hampton U.
61
Morgan State U.
32
4
Spelman C.
55
Spelman C.
23
FL A&M U.
52
Brown U.
28
5
U. MD, Baltimore County
50
Southern U. and A&M C.
22
Harvard U.
44
GA Institute of Technology, main campus
25
6
FL A&M U.
46
FL A&M U.
19
U. CA, Berkeley
42
Howard U.
22
7
NC A&T State U.
35
Xavier U. LA
16
Morehouse C.
39
Tuskegee U.
20
8
Southern U. and A&M C.
34
Jackson State U.
13
U. MD, College Park
37
U. MI, Ann Arbor
18
9
Tuskegee U.
32
Norfolk State U.
13
U. VA, main campus
37
U. MD, College Park
16
10
Morehouse C.
31
AL A&M U.
12
Yale U.
36
U. MD, Baltimore County
16
11
Morgan State U.
31
NC A&T State U.
12





Figure 1. Black Alums from Baccalaureate Institutions in Four Fields


D. Yield-Ratios as Productivity Metrics
Table 8 (below) looks at the sources of black doctorates from a different perspective than did the previous tables. The previous tables considered the "yields", i.e., number of black alums who received S&E doctorates; but Table 8 considers the "yield-ratios", i.e., the number of S&E doctorates per 100 black alums.

The authors who compiled the original Table 8 for black doctorates (and Table 4 for all doctorates) in the NSF report computed the answer to the following question for each institution in the U.S.:
For each 100 black graduates of baccalaureate institutions between 2002 and 2011, how many subsequently received doctorates in science and engineering? ... More specifically, how many of these graduates received doctorates within 9 years after they completed their undergraduate studies?
Yield-ratios level the playing field between larger vs. smaller institutions because larger size provides no built-in advantages.  For example, if a college produced 200 graduates and 10 subsequently received doctorates in science and engineering, its yield-ratio would  = 10 divided by 200/100 = 10/2 = 5.0 ... If a larger college produced 500 graduates and 20 subsequently received doctorates in S&E, its yield-ratio would = 10 divided by (500/100) = 10/5 = 2.0 ... In this case the smaller college with fewer graduates would have the higher yield-ratio.

The yield-ratios shown in Table 8 (below) could be interpreted as rough surrogates for the quality of the instruction (and mentoring and networking) that each institution provided to its graduates. As consequence, Table 8 includes a number of smaller HBCUs that were not found in the previous tables.

Whereas the original Table 8 in the NSF report listed the 50 undergraduate institutions in the U.S. that had the highest yield-ratios for the production of black doctorates, the abridged version (below) only includes HBCUs; it omits all non-HBCUs ... with one exception ==> UMBC ... :-)

The table includes 12 HBCUs plus UMBC. The number of black alums for each HBCU is shown in column (6); the yield-ratios calculated by the authors of the NSF report appear in column (7); their NSF ranks from 1 to 50 in terms of yield-ratios appear in the first column; their NSF ranks from 1 to 50 in terms of the number of alums receiving doctorates appear in column (2). The public vs. private status of each HBCU is displayed in column (4);  and the Carnegie 2010 classifications appear in column (5).
  • Whereas HBCUs dominated the top 10 positions in Table 6 because they produced the most alums who subsequently obtained science and engineering (S&E) doctorates, only one HBCU, Spelman College, made it into the top 10 in Table 8's yield-ratios, i.e., the number of S&E doctorates received per 100 alums.
     
  • Indeed, only 12 HBCUs made it onto NSF's list of 50 institutions having the highest yield-ratios. Ten of these HBCUs are private; only 2 are public ... and UMBC is public
      
  • Nine of the private HBCUs have higher yield-ratios than the two public HBCUs

    Note: Readers who reference the original NSF report will discover a similar pattern in its Table 4 for all doctorates. All 12 of the 12 institutions having the highest yield-ratios are private.
     
  • Eight of the 12 HBCUs are baccalaureate institutions and six baccalaureate HBCUs have the six highest yield-ratios among all HBCUs.

    Note: Readers who reference the original NSF report will discover a similar pattern in its Table 4 for all doctorates. Five (5) of the 7 institutions having the highest yield-ratios are baccalaureates.
     
  • Yield-ratios vary widely among the HBCUs. Spelman College has the highest yield-ratio at 4.2, which is more than twice as large as that of the six HBCUs in the bottom half of the table.

    Note: UMBC's 4.4 is slightly larger than Spelman's 4.2
     
  • Whereas Table 6 (above) showed a slightly positive correlation (0.32) between enrollment and the number of alums receiving S&E doctorates, Table 8 (below) shows a slightly negative correlation (-0.28) between enrollment and yield-ratios. In other words, smaller institutions tend to have larger yield-ratios (column 7) and therefore to have higher yield-ratio ranks (column 1). Example, Tougaloo's yield rank = 37, but its yield-ratio rank = 16 ... Fisk yield rank = 50 (bottom of the list, but its yield-ratio rank = 23.
     
  • Noting that six of the 12 HBCUs in Table 8 have enrollments greater than 2,000, and six have smaller enrollments, we compare yield-ratio ranks (column 1) with yield ranks (column 2) and encounter consistent reversals.

    -- All of the 6 larger HBCUs have lower yield-ratio ranks (column 1) than yield ranks (column 2);

    -- And all of the 6 smaller HBCUs, except Spelman College, have higher yield-ratio ranks (column 1) than yield ranks (column 2). (Superman's yield rank = 2, but its yield-ratio rank = 9, a much lower position)

    Note: UMBC, a small institution, also has a higher yield-ratio rank. Indeed, Spelman's yield rank (2) is higher than UMBC's (10); but Spelman's yield-ratio rank (9), is only a notch below UMBC's (8).

Table 8. Institutional Yield-Ratios
Yield
-Ratio
Rank
Yield
Rank
(2)
HBCUs
(3)
Type
(4)
2010 Carnegie
 Classification
(5)
 Black
Doctorates
(6)
Institutional
Yield-Ratio
(7)
Fall 2011
Black
Undergrad
Enrollment
(8)
9
2
Spelman College
Private
Baccalaureate
175
4.2
1760
16
37
Tougaloo College
Private
Baccalaureate
44
3.2
917
18
5
Xavier University of LA
Private
Baccalaureate
126
3.0
2101
23
50
Fisk University
Private
Baccalaureate
35
2.4
372
27
6
Morehouse College
Private
Baccalaureate
106
2.2
2320
31
1
Howard University
Private
Research-high
220
2.0
6808
33
4
Hampton Univesity
Private
Master's granting
150
1.9
3849
35
10
Tuskegee University
Private
Baccalaureate
80
1.8
2327
41
>50
Oakwood Univesity
Private
Baccalaureate
29
1.7
1681
43
7
Morgan State Univesity
Public
Doctoral/Research
102
1.6
5784
44
>50
Lincoln University of PA
Public
Master's granting
34
1.6
1306
46
50
Dillard University
Private
Baccalaureate
35
1.5
1200


Correlation betw yield-ratio (7) & size (8)



-0.28

8
10
U. of MD Baltimore County (UMBC)
Public
Research-high
80
4.4
1692


E. Final Comments
The data in the NSF report illustrates some important generalizations about HBCUs:
  • All HBCUs are not the same. They come in a variety of types and sizes, and their performance varies widely on some important metrics.
The following comments recapitulate the key findings in the NSF report that were highlighted in this note:
  • HBCUs are a major source of black alums who subsequently obtained doctorates in science and engineering. The HBCU community provided the baccalaureate preparation for 26 percent of the nation's black students who received S&E doctorates between 2002 and 2011 ... Table 5
     
  • Twenty-one HBCUs accounted for 75 percent of the doctorates earned by HBCU alums. Indeed, these 21 high performing HBCUs provided the undergraduate education for 20 percent of all black recipients of S&E doctorates in the U.S. ... Table 6
     
  • Howard University and Spelman College were the most productive HBCUs, with 220 and 175 alums receiving S&E doctorates, respectively.
     
  • The size of the black enrollment of an HBCU in this elite 21 was weakly correlated with the number of its black alums who received S&E doctorates, but size was not destiny. The HBCUs in the top 21 were not the 21 largest HBCUs. (The reader is referred to the Gateway's "HBCU Lists and Profiles" page to find enrollment figures for all accredited HBCUs) ... Table 6
     
  • HBCU dominance is strongest in the Life Sciences and Physical Sciences ... Table 7
     
  • Many non-HBCUs are more efficient sources of black alums who subsequently received S&E doctorates; their yield-ratios are higher, i.e., more black S&E doctorates per 100 alums ... Only one HBCU, Spelman College, made it into the top ten of the NSF list of the 50 institutions having the highest yield-ratios ... Table 8
UMBC was mentioned frequently in this discussion because it is the non-HBCU that is most akin to the 106 HBCUs in the size of its black enrollment, its dedication to ensuring that its black students achieve their highest potential in science and engineering, and its black leadership, i.e., Dr. Freeman Hrabowski. UMBC is nationally acclaimed, and justifiably so, for the success of its black students in science and engineering.

But Table 8 of this note indicates that Spelman College has achieved comparable success. So why hasn't Spelman College received comparable national acclaim? ... especially given the fact that its all-female enrollment means that Spelman's alums have had to overcome higher hurdles to achieve comparable success in science and technology, fields that have been notoriously inhospitable to women in years past.

Consider the following additional data about the SAT math scores of entering freshmen (Fall 2012) from the U.S. Department of Education's College Navigator site:
  • Spelman College -- 25th percentile = 465; 75th percentile = 560
  • UMBC -- -- 25th percentile = 580; 75th percentile = 670
As the reader can see, UMBC's entering freshmen have much stronger math skills than the entering freshmen at Spelman. Given the central role that math skills play in advanced courses in science and engineering, Spelman's achievement of parity with UMBC in the production of black alums who obtain doctorates in these fields is all the more remarkable. In light of the greater challenges to its success, why hasn't Spelman received at least as much national acclaim as UMBC?
But here's a more telling question: Why haven't Spelman and its presidents received as much acclaim within the HBCU community as UMBC and Dr. Hrabowski?
HBCUs can't learn from each other's experience until they acknowledge that some HBCUs are performing much better than others with regards to some important metrics, e.g., yield-ratios. 

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