Participation of Minority Students in STEM Doctoral Programs

FIU has consistently ranked among the top institutions that grant doctoral degrees to Hispanics, and UGS maintains a continuing emphasis on increasing the number of minority students that attain a doctoral degree and pursue the professoriate. Recent statistics published in Hispanic Outlook (2011) place FIU second in the nation in the following rankings:

  • Total number of Hispanic students in graduate schools, for 2009
  • Total number of master’s and doctorate degrees in engineering granted to Hispanics, for 2010

At FIU, Hispanic and African American graduate student populations constitute the third and fourth largest constituencies, respectively, after White and International students. They also constitute the third and fourth largest groups of research-based doctorate degree awardees. Four-year trends in enrollment and in doctorate degrees awarded to Hispanic and African American students are shown in Fig. 1 and 2.


Figure 1 - Enrolled Students in Research Doctoral Programs
Figure 1
Enrolled Students in Research Doctoral Programs

Figure 2 - Degrees Earned in Research Doctoral Programs
Figure 2
Degrees Earned in Research Doctoral Programs

Specific to STEM programs at FIU, data show that Hispanic and African American student populations retain their third and fourth rankings in terms of numbers enrolled and degrees awarded. However, a close examination of trends shows clear differences for STEM programs (comparing Figs. 3 and 4 below with Figs. 1 and 2 above). The percentages of Hispanic and African American students enrolled and graduated in STEM programs are lower than the corresponding percentages of those two populations when all doctoral programs are considered. For example, while Hispanic students constitute 21% of total doctoral enrollments, they represent only 16% of students enrolled in STEM programs. In AY 2011-12, Hispanics earned 23% of all research doctoral degrees, but they earned only 18% of STEM doctoral degrees. This trend is consistent for the African American student population as well.


Figure 3 - Number of Enrolled Students in STEM
Figure 3
Number of Enrolled Students in STEM

Figure 4 - Number of Degrees Awarded in STEM
Figure 4
Number of Degrees Awarded in STEM

The National Action Council for Minorities in Engineering asserts that African American, Native American, and Hispanic people together account for 34% of the total U.S. population, but they earn only 7% of master’s degrees and 3% of doctorates in STEM fields (Chronicle, 3/15/2012). According to the Chronicle of Higher Education 2012-2013 Almanac, 6.3% of all doctoral degrees were awarded to African Americans and approximately 4.1% were in STEM fields; Hispanics represented 5.9% of doctoral degrees awarded and 5.2% were in STEM fields (these numbers correspond to the AY 2009-’10). The numbers at FIU in the recent years exceeded the national averages. Hispanic share of total doctoral degrees and degrees in STEM fields are 21.9% and 18% respectively, and those for African Americans are 9% and 8% respectively.