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ERIC Number: ED574446
Record Type: Non-Journal
Publication Date: 2016
Pages: 12
Abstractor: ERIC
Reference Count: N/A
African Americans: College Majors and Earnings. Fact Sheet
Carnevale, Anthony P.; Fasules, Megan L.; Porter, Andrea; Landis-Santos Jennifer
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
Access to college for African Americans has increased, but African Americans are highly concentrated in lower-paying majors. The college major, which has critical economic consequences throughout life, reflects personal choices but also reflects the fact that African-American students are concentrated in open-access four-year institutions that limited choices of majors offered. African Americans represent 12 percent of the US population, but are underrepresented in the number of degree holders in college majors associated with the fastest-growing, highest-paying occupations - STEM, health, and business. African Americans account for only 8 percent of general engineering majors, 7 percent of mathematics majors, and only 5 percent of computer engineering majors. They are similarly under-represented in business: only 7 percent of finance and marketing majors are African-American. In health majors, they account for 10 percent but are clustered in the lowest-earning detailed major: 21 percent are in health and medical administrative services, compared to only 6 percent in the higher-earning detailed major of pharmacy, pharmaceutical sciences, and administration. African Americans are also highly represented in majors associated with serving the community, which tend to be low-earning - human services and community organization (20%) and social work (19%). Since 2009, there has not been significant change in the proportion of African Americans across majors. One of the most significant changes occurred within the architecture and engineering major group. The percentage of African Americans with industrial and manufacturing engineering or miscellaneous engineering technologies majors decreased by 4 percentage points and 3 percentage points, respectively. Also, the proportion of African Americans in majors where they were already highly concentrated saw a slight increase: social work and health and medical administrative services both increased by 3 percentage points. This report analyzed 137 detailed majors among African Americans and found that: (1) African Americans only account for 8 percent of general engineering majors, 7 percent of mathematics majors, and 5 percent of computer majors; (2) Law and public policy is the top major group for African Americans with a Bachelor's degree; (3) The highest concentrated detailed major among African Americans is in health and medical administration; and (4) The second lowest-paying major among African American is in human services and community organization with median earnings at $39,000.
Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce. 3300 Whitehaven Street NW Suite 5000 Box 571444, Washington, DC 20057. Tel: 202-687-4922; Fax: 202-687-3110; e-mail:; Web site:
Publication Type: Reports - Evaluative; Numerical/Quantitative Data
Education Level: Higher Education; Postsecondary Education
Audience: N/A
Language: English
Sponsor: Lumina Foundation; Joyce Foundation; Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation
Authoring Institution: Georgetown University, Center on Education and the Workforce