Except for occasional bumps up and down, Hispanics have made steady though slow advancements over the past five years at the nation's top postgraduate schools specializing in business, engineering, law and medicine.
Overall, Hispanics pursuing their postgraduate degrees at these schools averaged 13.5 percent over the past five years, increasing from 10.9 percent in 2007 to 15.8 percent this year. Those receiving degrees averaged 10.8 percent in the same time period, from 8.6 percent in 2007 to 13.8 percent today. At the same time, the percentage of faculty members at these schools who are Hispanic also increased from 6.7 percent in 2007 to 8.9 percent today, an average of 8.1 percent per year.
Each year, HispanicBusiness magazine measures and ranks the effectiveness of the nation's universities in attracting Hispanic students. To understand the effect of these schools on Hispanics, HispanTelligence, the research arm of Hispanic Business Inc., assesses the nation's top universities for Hispanics in the fields of business, engineering, business and law.
The 40 universities ranked -- 10 in each degree area -- were ranked in terms of Hispanic diversity according to the following criteria:
-- Percent of Hispanic student enrollment.
-- Percent of Hispanic faculty members.
-- Percent of degrees conferred to Hispanics.
-- Progressive programs aimed at increasing enrollment of Hispanic students.
Yet, despite the progress, Hispanics still lag behind the general population in degrees conferred. To increase the number of Hispanics who go on to seek postgraduate degrees means a concerted effort to increase the number of Hispanics in the pipeline.
A July report from the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) noted that 63 percent of jobs will require a postsecondary degree by 2018.
The author of the report, Michelle Camacho Liu, who tracks postsecondary issues for the NCSL, wrote: "For the United States to have the highest percentage of college graduates, 13.4 million more adults need to earn degrees by 2020. To reach this goal, almost a quarter of these additional degrees (3.3 million) need to be earned by Latino students."
Only 19 percent of Hispanic adults have a postsecondary degree, according to the NCLS study, compared to 42 percent of whites and 26 percent of African-American adults. This gap is particularly noticeable in states that have sizable Hispanic populations.
The largest gap occurs in California, where only 15.5 percent of Hispanics have a higher degree compared to 50 percent for whites. The percentage of Hispanics with higher degrees in Nevada, 11.4 percent; Arizona, 15.8 percent; Texas, 16.2 percent; Illinois, 16.5 percent; and Colorado, 17.4 percent, come in significantly lower than the national average. Florida has one of the highest rates of Hispanics with higher degrees, 32 percent, but that is still lower than the 41 percent for white adults.
Deborah Santiago, co-founder of Excelencia in Education, wrote in an August news release: "The data is compelling; the relative youth, growth and current levels of educational attainment among Latinos show that our nation will not return to world leadership in college completion without a tactical plan focused on increasing Latino degree attainment." Increasing the number of Hispanics earning higher degrees needs to be a top priority.
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