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Survey of Earned Doctorates Report Reveals Howard University’s Graduate School Out Performs Peers in Key Areas

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The Graduate School has outperformed its peer institutions in several key areas, including the representation of women receiving Ph.D.s.

WASHINGTON (April 5, 2019) – The Graduate School of Howard University is proud to report the outperformance of its peer institutions in various key areas: the representation of women receiving Ph.D.s; the representation of research doctorates reporting interdisciplinary dissertation research; the starting salaries of STEM doctorates; and the diversity of Ph.D. recipients.

JKnight_ Photo of Howard University Graduate School Ph.D. Graduates .jpgEach year, the Graduate School of Howard University collects data about its Ph.D. graduating cohort through the Survey of Earned Doctorates (SED) developed and sponsored by the National Science Foundation (NSF) and five other federal agencies: National Institutes of Health, Department of Education, National Endowment for the Humanities, Department of Agriculture, and the National Aeronautics and Space Administration. Research doctoral recipients of Howard University’s Graduate School contribute greatly to the university’s efforts to inspire and create new knowledge across disciplines.

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“It is so important for us to assess the characteristics of our doctoral population in light of trends in doctoral education. Howard has a long tradition of strong academic programs in Graduate Studies and an equally strong commitment to improving programs continuously to meet the ever-changing needs of our world,” said Interim Dean of the Graduate School Dana A. Williams, Ph.D. “While we know that Howard is exceptional when it comes to thinking about an institution's ‘intangible attributes,’ we also know that we have be more deliberate about gathering and using concrete factors to develop and invest in our doctoral programs.”

The recently issued SED is the latest census of U.S. graduate school profiles and trends in graduate education from data collection in 2017 by 428 institutions, including Howard. The annual profiles include statistics on demographic characteristics, field of study history-trends-pathways, financial support, and postdoctoral plans of Howard’s Ph.D. recipients. These results are compared to national-level data and peer-institution data in the same Carnegie classification. 

“In order to receive an accurate glimpse of Howard’s doctoral population, it is important to achieve a high response rate,” noted Graduate Academic Administrator Jahmal McCray, who played a key role as in assisting with the SED data collection. “. In this 2017 profile, of the Graduate School’s 105 Ph.D. recipients, 97.1% participated in the SED. “This surpassed the national response rate of 91.4%,” said McCray.

Excellence in PhD Leadership:

“The national impact of the Graduate School is visible, immediate and significant,” said Assistant Dean for Graduate Student Affairs and Assessment, Sylvia McDonald-Kaufman. “The Graduate School leads in key metrics when compared to its peer institutions.” She points to notable comparisons that underscore Howard’s leadership in:

  • the representation of women receiving PhDs. The 2017 Graduate School profile reflected 61% of all Ph.D. recipients were women compared to 49% in peer universities and 46% nationally.
  • the representation of research doctorates reporting interdisciplinary dissertation research. More than half of dissertations in the Graduate School consisted of interdisciplinary research in psychology, social sciences, and education compared to 28% for institutional peers and 26% nationally of all institutions in the same disciplines.
  • the starting salaries of STEM doctorates. The Graduate School’s doctoral graduates in science and engineering (24.3%) outpace similar graduates from peer universities (23.4%) for starting salaries above $80K and are within 5% of STEM PhD graduates (29.7%) for all American institutions.
  • the diversity of PhD recipients. Black/African American representation of the Graduate School’s doctoral recipients was 75.9%. Conversely, Black/African American representation in peer institutions was reported to be 10.1%, and just 6.7% for all institutions.


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Nationally, the 2017 SED brings to light major trends in doctoral education. From 2008 to 2017, the number of research doctorates awarded to Blacks/African Americans increased by 23%. Nationally, Black/African Americans had the highest representation in the field of education, while the Graduate School produced this group’s largest share of doctorates in psychology and social sciences. Science & Engineering doctorates accounted for 76% of all PhDs produced in the Graduate School’s programs in 2017, with women receiving 75% of the degrees. The largest nationwide census growth during the decade was experienced by women doctoral recipients in several subfields, such as materials science and atmospheric sciences, which are doctoral programs housed in the Graduate School.

To review the 2017 doctoral education trends in greater depth through detailed data tables and interactive graphics, visit www.nsf.gov/statistics/sed/.

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(Photo of Ph.D. graduates from Howard University  – courtesy of Howard University) 


About Howard University Graduate School

Howard University offered its first master’s degree in 1867— the same year it was established. In 1934, the Graduate School was formally established and reorganized to its current structure with divisions in the arts and humanities, biological and life sciences, engineering and physical sciences, and social sciences. The school awarded its first doctoral recipient in 1958 in the field of chemistry. Today, the school offers 24 master’s, 31 Ph.D., 7 M.D./Ph.D., and 4 Graduate Certificate Programs. The Graduate School has consistently produced on average more than 100 doctorates per year for the last three years.  For more information, visit www.gs.howard.edu 

About Howard University

Founded in 1867, Howard University is a private, research university that is comprised of 13 schools and colleges. Students pursue studies in more than 120 areas leading to undergraduate, graduate and professional degrees. The University operates with a commitment to Excellence in Truth and Service and has produced four Rhodes Scholars, 11 Truman Scholars, two Marshall Scholars, one Schwarzman Scholar, over 70 Fulbright Scholars and 22 Pickering Fellows. Howard also produces more on-campus African-American Ph.D. recipients than any other university in the United States.  For more information on Howard University visit www.howard.edu

Media Contact: Imani Pope-Johns, [email protected]      


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