Data Spotlight: Trends in Black/African American Nursing Graduates and Faculty

Academic nursing leaders recognize the critical need to recruit more individuals from diverse backgrounds into the nursing profession.  This goal was underscored in the new Future of Nursing: 2020-2030 report, which calls on nursing schools to expand their capacity to educate, mentor, and support more aspiring nurses and recruit nurse faculty from a range of underrepresented groups.

According to data from the U.S Census Bureau, Black/African American individuals comprise approximately 13.4 percent of the U.S population. However, AACN annual survey data reveals that Black/African American individuals make up approximately 11 percent of graduates in baccalaureate nursing programs, as shown in Figure 1. In this analysis, baccalaureate programs include the Generic Baccalaureate and RN-to-Baccalaureate programs. Figure 2 illustrates the following trends over the past 10 years: (1) overall diversity in Baccalaureate programs has increased; (2) Black/African American graduates in RN to Baccalaureate programs has decreased by almost 2 percentage points; and (3) Black/African American graduates in the Generic Baccalaureate programs has remained stagnant. As depicted in Figure 3, across the racial/ethnic minority groups, RN-Baccalaureate programs experienced a decrease in Black/African American graduates over the last 10 years.

Having a diverse group of nursing faculty can help recruit, support, and retain diversity within the nursing student population. Nursing schools are making progress in terms of representation among nursing faculty with Figure 4 providing evidence of an increase in the percentage of Black/African American faculty members.  Diversity in nursing education programs is essential for preparing our future nurses to provide quality healthcare for an increasingly diverse U.S population. For more information on enhancing diversity in nursing, visit

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Figure 1. Racial/Ethnic Composition of 2020 Graduates in Baccalaureate Nursing Programs

Race/Ethnicity Composition of 2020 Graduates in Baccalaureate Nursing Programs - Pie chart shows that white represents 66% n=93,147; hispanic/latino represents 12% n = 16,855; black/african american represents 11% n= 15,206; Asian, Native Hawaiian, or other pacific islander represents 8% n = 10,662; Two or more races represents 3% n = 4,092; and american indian or alaskan native represents 0.5% n = 756

Figure 2. Minority Graduates in Baccalaureate Nursing Programs, 2011-2020

*Minorities include individuals from the following racial/ethnic groups: Black/African American, Hispanic/Latino, Asian, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islanders, American Indian/Alaskan Native, and Two or More Races

Figure 3. Racial/Ethnic Composition of RN-Baccalaureate Graduates, 2011-2020

*Note: The data in Figures 1, 2 and 3 excludes categories for Non-U.S residents and Unknown/Not reported.

Figure 4. Trends in Black/African American Nursing Faculty, 2011-2020