News & AnalysisU.S. GRADUATE EDUCATION

Minorities Run Up Significant Debt in Earning STEM Ph.D.s

Science  28 Jun 2013:
Vol. 340, Issue 6140, pp. 1510-1511
DOI: 10.1126/science.340.6140.1510

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Summary

Conventional wisdom holds that most students can earn a doctoral degree in a science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) field without amassing large amounts of debt. However, a new study of 19,000 newly minted Ph.D.s by a team at the American Institutes for Research in Washington, D.C., suggests that the conventional wisdom is wrong and that minorities face a steeper climb onto the STEM career ladder. It finds that only 51% of African-Americans and 64% of Hispanics earning STEM Ph.D.s in 2010 graduated debt-free. In comparison, 73% of white and Asian STEM Ph.D.s avoided debt.