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A new white paper commissioned by the Sloan Foundation and prepared by RTI International, a nonprofit research institute, has shed light on the educational journey of Black and Hispanic STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) Ph.D. graduates.

The paper has been prepared by Erin Dunlop Velez, director of education research at RTI, along with Ruth Heuer, senior research education analyst at RTI, and Lorelle Espinosa, program director at Sloan Foundation.

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The research analyzed three federal education datasets, including the National Science Foundation’s Survey of Earned Doctorates and the U.S. Department of Education’s 2008/18 Baccalaureate and Beyond Longitudinal Study and Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System, to explore the characteristics of institutions that both bachelor’s and doctoral degree-granting attended by future STEM Ph.D. recipients, their postsecondary pathways, and financial sources.

The research found that Black STEM Ph.D. graduates face significant challenges compared to their Asian, Hispanic, and White counterparts.

For instance, Black STEM Ph.D. recipients take a more extended period to complete their doctorate and borrow more money to fund their education.

Black graduates are also more likely to earn their degrees from private for-profit institutions, complete a master’s degree at a different institution before beginning their doctoral studies, and receive fewer fellowships and assistantships during their doctoral training.

The research team suggests that understanding the unique challenges that Black STEM Ph.D. recipients face is a crucial step in developing programs to support them better.

This kind of analysis will help institutions learn how to support Black and Hispanic students in STEM fields better and encourage their pathways into STEM careers.

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