2010: Race/Ethnicity of Doctorate Recipients in Psychology in the Past 10 Years

APA Center for Workforce Studies
January 2010
Report Text

CWS staff compiled data summarizing the representation of ethnic minorities at the doctoral-level in psychology. Additional data will be provided on representation in the pipeline, by degree level and type, and we will provide some data from other science and engineering fields for comparison purposes. Unlike some Federal agencies, CWS includes Asians in the counts of racial/ethnic minorities in psychology. Unless otherwise noted, please assume that this is the case.

Psychology Doctorates

Most recent data from December 2009, as reported in Doctorate Recipients from U.S. Universities: Summary Report 2007-2008 (NSF 10-309) indicated that 24% of psychology PhDs were awarded to minority graduates in 2008 for those who were US citizens and permanent residents. This varied by psychology subfield, from a low of just over 17% in experimental to a high of 28% in I/O. (Table 37, Page 75). NSF data indicate that in 2000, minority representation was 16.7% and in 1998 was at 15.5%.

In 2008, Clinical psychology remained the single largest field with 35% of all PhDs granted to US citizens and permanent residents. Clinical psychology claimed 57% of the PhDs earned by American Indians, 29% earned by students of Asian background, almost 27% of the PhDs granted to Black graduates and 43% of those granted to Hispanic students. Clinical degrees comprised 35% of those granted to White students and 31% of those granted to students reporting multiple races. Counseling, social and industrial/organizational psychology also proved popular.

This document indicated that in 2008, the following statistics were applicable to the 2,837 U.S. citizen and permanent resident psychology PhDs for whom race/ethnicity was known. Less than 1% was awarded to American Indian/Alaska Natives, 5.2% went to Asians (not including Native Hawaiian or other Pacific Islanders), 5.8% were awarded to Black students and 9.7% to Hispanic students. Whites earned 76% and those who reported more than one race comprised 2.5%. (Table 9, Page 37).

It is important to note that NSF placed Hawaiian Natives and Pacific Islanders in an other/unknown category that included those who did not specify a race/ethnicity and those who were non Hispanic but did not report a race – this category was removed by CWS from the total before calculating the percentages above. It was very small and comprised well under 2% of all of the 2, 886 PhDs awarded to US citizens and permanent residents.

The NSF report did not provide data by fine field for gender by race/ethnicity among PhD recipients. However, generally over 51% of the PhDs earned by Whites went to women in 2008. For Blacks it was 64%, for Hispanics 58%, American Indians were at 59% and Asians were at 55%. Fifty-five percent of PhDs to multi-racial doctorate recipients went to women.

From the 2007 APA Doctorate Employment Survey, CWS found that 22% of new doctorates were members of a minority group. Ten years ago the representation was at 15%. In 2007, of those respondents providing an answer, Hispanics and Blacks/African Americans each comprised 5% of the new doctorates while Asians represented 6%. Two Native Americans responded to the survey, while those who specified multiple race/ethnicity were 2% of respondents. Forty-eight of the 1,146 respondents did not report their racial or ethnic background. These numbers include PsyDs which is not the case for NSF data.

Comparison With Other S/E Fields

NSF data provide the opportunity to see how psychology fared in 2008 in terms of minority representation vis a vis other fields. Table 9 from the most recent NSF report noted earlier contained data that show that 24% of new psychology doctorates who were US citizens and permanent residents reported minority status. In engineering, minority representation was at 27%. education fields reported 26 % minority, biology and biomedical fields claimed 24%, mathematics was at 19% and Chemistry reported 23%.

Over the past two decades all the science and engineering fields have generally witnessed an increase in minority representation from less than 20% in 1988. As an example, the social sciences reported only 14% minority representation. By 2008, all fields were better than 20% minority and in most cases reported one-fourth or better minority representation.

NSF did not report specific minority status by specific field over time in the most recent report. However, if we consider the social sciences and changes over time we were able to determine various general shifts. Using Table 8, Page 35 and data from 1988, 1993, 2003 and 2008 we can determine certain patterns. Since 1988, American Indians increased in number among PhD recipients some 76%. In other words the number of American Indians earning a doctorate in a social science rose 76% between 1988 and 2008. This was marked by a 34% decrease in the last 5 years. Asian and Hispanic PhDs increased 136% and 169%, respectively between 1988 and 2008 in the social sciences. Both Asian and Hispanic graduates decreased between 1998 and 2003 but rebounded between 2003 and 2008. Black graduates in the social sciences exhibited a more modest increase in the past 20 years at 69% but the increase was steady with no downturns in that time. White graduates posted a 1% increase in social science degrees for the past two decades however their numbers have declined since 1993.

First–Year Graduate Students in Psychology

These data were compiled from the 2010 Graduate Study in Psychology effort and were collected in 2009. We have race/ethnicity for first-year students only. For full-time students in 2008-2009 minority representation was 24%, 33%, and 22% respectively, in public doctoral, private doctoral, and public and private master’s departments in the U.S. Of 16 Canadian departments reporting, only 9% of first-year full-time students were reported as being racial/ethnic minorities. In 2008-2009, among part-time students, minority representation was 30% in public doctoral departments and 36% in private doctoral departments for first-year students. At the master’s level we found 35% minority in public settings and 28% in private settings. Numbers of part-time students were much smaller than full-time students and represented only 14% of all first-year students.

At the doctoral level by setting of department, minority students represented 26% of first-year full-time students in traditional health service provider programs in 2008-2009 and 33% of first-year full-time students in professional school settings For part-time students, minority students represented 31% of first-year part-time students in traditional health service provider programs in 2008-2009 and 37% of first-year part-time students in professional school settings.