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Data Spotlight: Nursing Students Diversity and Enrollment and Graduation Trends in HBCUs

Published March 29, 2022

Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) are critically important to improving the health of our nation and addressing health disparities through the education of marginalized populations. The Higher Education Act of 1965 defines an HBCU as any higher education institution that was established before 1964 with the primary goal of educating African American students.1 While the primary mission is to educate African American/Black students, HBCUs enroll students of all races and ethnicities.

Within the 102 HBCUs located in the United States and U.S. Virgin Islands, 32 institutions operate nursing programs offering a baccalaureate degree or higher.2,3 Twenty-two of these nursing programs are members of the American Association of Colleges of Nursing (AACN).4

All 32 HBCUs with nursing programs were sent an invitation to participate in AACN’s 2021 annual enrollment and graduation survey. AACN received 22 usable surveys in response to this request for data. The following information provides a representative snapshot of the diversity of students within the 22 HBCU respondent schools. In addition, the 10-year trend in enrollments and graduations from HBCU-affiliated nursing programs also is presented.

In the academic year 2020-2021, the percentages of African American / Black nursing students enrolled in HBCUs were as follows:  baccalaureate 74.0%, master’s 69.7%, Doctor of Nursing Practice 89.6%, and PhD 100% (Figure 1). The percentage of African American / Black graduates from HBCU nursing programs in academic year 2020-2021 was: baccalaureate 64.2%, masters 70.6%, Doctor of Nursing Practice (DNP) 96.2%, and PhD 100% (Figure 2). The majority of students enrolled (92.4%) and graduated (90.9%) across all programs were female.

Figures 3 and 4 depict a 10-year trend of enrollments in nursing programs at HBCUs. From 2017 to 2020, there was a steady increase in baccalaureate enrollments, but in 2021 there was a slight decrease. DNP enrollments have increased significantly since 2012. Over the last 10 years, enrollments in master's and PhD programs have declined.

Figures 5 and 6 show a 10-year trend in the number of students who graduated from HBCUs. Graduations from baccalaureate and master’s programs have declined. Graduations from DNP programs have increased over the last 10 years with slight declines in 2017 and 2020. Graduations from PhD programs have been consistent over the last 10 years.

Figure 1: 2021 Student Enrollments by Race/Ethnicity

Figure 1: 2021 Student Enrollments by Race/Ethnicity
NOTE: Excludes non-U.S. residents and the categories of unknown/not reported. Percentages may not total to 100.0 due to rounding.

Figure 2: 2021 Student Graduations by Race/Ethnicity

Figure 2: 2021 Student Graduations by Race/Ethnicity
NOTE: Excludes non-U.S. residents and the categories of unknown/not reported. Percentages may not total to 100.0 due to rounding.

Figure 3: 10-year Trend of Bachelor’s and Master’s Enrollments    Figure 4: 10-year Trend of Doctoral Enrollments

Figure 3: 10-year Trend of Bachelor’s and Master’s Enrollments    Figure 4: 10-year Trend of Doctoral Enrollments
NOTE: Both Figures 3 and 4, exclude non-U.S. residents and the categories of unknown/not reported. Percentages may not total to 100.0 due to rounding.

Figure 5: 10-year Trend of Bachelor’s and Master’s Graduations    Figure 6: 10-year Trend of Doctoral Graduations

Figure 5: 10-year Trend of Bachelor’s and Master’s Graduations    Figure 6: 10-year Trend of Doctoral Graduations
NOTE: Both Figures 5 and 6, exclude non-U.S. residents and the categories of unknown/not reported. Percentages may not total to 100.0 due to rounding.

References

  1. U.S. Department of Education. What is an HBCU?. Retrieved from https://sites.ed.gov/whhbcu/one-hundred-and-five-historically-black-colleges-and-universities/
  2. National Center for Education Statistics (2022). Historically Black Colleges and Universities. Retrieved from https://nces.ed.gov/COLLEGENAVIGATOR/?s=all&sp=4 .
  3. HBCU-Colleges (2018). HCBU Schools Offering Nursing Programs. Retrieved from https://hbcu-colleges.com/nursing
  4. American Association of Colleges of Nursing Student Diversity Data for HBCUs, 2021.