Exploring the Success of HBCUs Development of Blacks Earning Engineering and Computing Graduate Degrees

Historically black colleges and universities (HBCUs) have played a critical role in the production of African American and Black students in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). For graduate degrees, between 2002 and 2011, the National Science Foundation found that HBCUs comprised all ten of the top baccalaureate-origin institutions for Blacks who went on to obtain a doctorate degree in science and engineering. The predominance of HBCUs in the preparation of Black students for graduate programs suggests a need to better understand this under-explored success case and, in particular, the practices of these institutions that support prospective Black students as they explore and apply to graduate school.

Identifying and disseminating these success cases will encourage HBCU and non-HBCU leaders to add resources towards matriculating more undergraduate students in STEM including increasing the number that go on to pursue masters and PhDs in engineering and computing. In addition, this study will provide an opportunity for non-HBCU organizations to better understand HBCUs, their culture and how they can be more strategic in partnering with them as well as recruiting and retaining engineering and computing HBCU students at the graduate level. Through the resulting evidence-based insights and recommendations, this project will contribute to the goals outlined by the National Academies: (1) increasing underrepresented minority students' interest in graduate STEM degrees, (2) retaining and graduating Black students in those programs, and (3) documenting best practices for others to use.