Nearly 4.6 million African-Americans hold a four-year college degree, a new high, but a large racial gap in degree attainment still exists and does not appear to be shrinking, according to a report in the Journal of Blacks in Higher Education.
The Journal also found that an overwhelming majority of these Black college graduates are women.
As of November 2009, 2,670,000 Black women hold four-year degrees or higher levels of academic achievement, according to the Journal, compared to 1,909,000 Black men, and represent 58 percent of all Black students earning a bachelor’s degree.
Likewise, Black women are earning master’s degrees at higher rates than Black men, with 669,000 Black women holding advanced degrees compared to 409,000 Black men. However, Black men continue to lead Black women in the number of professional degrees, such as those in medicine and law, according to the Journal. Roughly 88,000 Black men have professional degrees, compared to 62,000 Black women.
Despite the disparities between Black men and women, African-Americans as a demographic seem to be making positive strides in higher education compared to previous generations. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, 3,215,000 Blacks nationwide have bachelor’s degrees, and another 1,078,000 Blacks hold a four-year college degree and a master’s. A total of 150,000 Blacks have professional degrees and another 136,000 African American hold doctorates. These numbers show tremendous progress in the Black community, according to the Journal report; in the 1920s, only approximately 10,000 American Blacks were college-educated.