(Reprinted from the January/February 2011 issue of the CGS Communicator)
Hispanic-serving institutions (HSIs) play an important role in graduate education. According to the Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities (HACU), HSIs are defined as “…colleges, universities, or systems/districts where total Hispanic enrollment constitutes a minimum of 25% of the total enrollment. ‘Total Enrollment’ includes full-time and part-time students at the undergraduate or graduate level… (Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities, 2011).” The federal government does not maintain an official list of HSIs, but as of January 2011, HACU listed 230 member HSIs on its website. Of those institutions, 53 award graduate degrees and are included in the survey population for the CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees. It is important to note that since the enrollment share of Hispanic students at individual institutions varies from year to year, the list of institutions considered HSIs also varies from year to year. This article examines graduate enrollment at institutions classified as HSIs by HACU as of January 2011.
The Hispanic population in the United States has increased rapidly over the past two decades. Hispanics comprise about 16% of the U.S. resident population today, up from about 13% in 2000 and 9% in 1990 (U.S. Census Bureau, 2000, 2002, and 2008). The U.S. Census Bureau estimates that by 2050, 30% of all U.S. residents will be Hispanic (U.S. Census Bureau, 2008).
Partly as a result of this population growth, the participation of Hispanics in graduate education has increased as well. In fall 2009, 8.4% of all U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate students were Hispanic, up from 6.7% in 1999 and 3.9% in 1989 (Council of Graduate Schools, 2010). Yet, Hispanics remain underrepresented in graduate education. Their share of the U.S. population today is twice as large as their share of U.S. citizen and permanent resident graduate enrollment.
In fall 2009, 36% of all Hispanic graduate students attended HSIs, relatively unchanged from 37% a decade earlier in fall 1999 (Council of Graduate Schools, 2010). However, Hispanic graduate students are less likely to be enrolled at HSIs today than they were twenty years ago. In fall 1989, 44% of all Hispanic graduate students were enrolled at institutions now classified as HSIs. Despite a smaller share of Hispanics attending HSIs today, the large increase in Hispanic graduate enrollment over the past two decades has resulted in larger numbers of Hispanics at both HSIs and non-HSIs.
On average, graduate students at HSIs are more likely to be enrolled at the master’s level than students at non-HSIs. In fall 2009, 85% of all graduate students attending HSIs were enrolled at the master’s level compared with 75% of the graduate students at all other institutions (Council of Graduate Schools, 2010).
Over the past twenty years, the overall growth in graduate enrollment (including students of all citizenships and races/ethnicities) has been greater at HSIs than at all other institutions (see Table 1). Between fall 1989 and fall 2009, total graduate enrollment increased 58% at HSIs and 40% at all other institutions (Council of Graduate Schools, 2010). In contrast, over the last one-, five-, and ten-year periods, the gains were greater at non-HSIs than at HSIs. For example, between fall 2004 and fall 2009, total graduate enrollment increased 6% at HSIs, less than half the 13% rate of increase at all other institutions.
For Hispanic graduate students, the enrollment growth that occurred over the past two decades happened in both HSIs and non-HSIs, but was greater at non-HSIs than at HSIs (see Table 2). Between fall 1989 and fall 2009, Hispanic graduate enrollment increased 229% at non-HSIs compared with 132% at HSIs (Council of Graduate Schools, 2010). Similarly, the rate of increase in Hispanic graduate enrollment between fall 1999 and fall 2009 was 76% at non-HSIs compared with 52% at HSIs. Over the last five years, most of the growth in Hispanic graduate enrollment has been at non-HSIs. Hispanic graduate enrollment increased just 7% at HSIs between fall 2004 and fall 2009, but rose 33% at all other institutions.
While the gains for Hispanics in graduate education at both HSIs and non-HSIs are encouraging, there remains a long way to go before parity is reached. And the barriers to achieving parity remain great. The two primary barriers are the high dropout rates for Hispanics in high school and the low enrollment rates of Hispanics in undergraduate education. In 2008, 18% of Hispanic 16- through 24-year-olds were not enrolled in high school and had not earned a high school diploma or alternative credential (Chapman, Laird, and KewalRamani, 2010). In contrast, just 4% of Asian/Pacific Islanders, 5% of Whites, and 10% of African Americans were high school dropouts. And among high school graduates ages 16 to 21 in 2006, 79% of Asians and 61% of Whites were enrolled in college, compared with 49% of African Americans and 45% of Hispanics (Davis and Bauman, 2008).
Given these high dropout rates from high school and low enrollment rates in undergraduate education, it is not surprising that the educational attainment of the Hispanic population also lags that of other racial groups. In 2009, just 3% of Hispanics 25 years of age and older in the United States had a graduate degree, compared with 10% of Whites and 6% of African Americans (Snyder and Dillow, 2010). The pathways to graduate school must be improved in order to ensure parity for Hispanics in graduate degree attainment. To achieve this goal will require the participation and support of HSIs as well as non-HSIs.
By Nathan E. Bell, Director, Research and Policy Analysis
Chapman, C., Laird, J. and KewalRamani, A. (2010). Trends in High School Dropout and Completion Rates in the United States: 1972–2008. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education. Retrieved from http://nces.ed.gov/pubsearch
Council of Graduate Schools. (2010). CGS/GRE Survey of Graduate Enrollment and Degrees. Dataset.
Davis, W. and Bauman, K. (2008). School Enrollment in the United States: 2006. Washington, DC: U.S. Census Bureau. Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2008pubs/p20-559.pdf
Hispanic Association of Colleges and Universities. (2011). “Hispanic-Serving Institution Definitions.” Retrieved from http://www.hacu.net/hacu/HSI_Definition_EN.asp?SnID=166172461
Snyder, T. and Dillow, S. (2010). Digest of Education Statistics 2009. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics, U.S. Department of Education.
U.S. Census Bureau. (2000). “Resident Population Estimates of the United States by Sex, Race, and Hispanic Origin: April 1, 1990 to July 1, 1999, with Short-Term Projection to November 1, 2000.” Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/popest/archives/1990s/nat-srh.txt
U.S. Census Bureau. (2002). “U.S. Summary: 2000.” Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/prod/2002pubs/c2kprof00-us.pdf
U.S. Census Bureau. (2008). “An Older and More Diverse Nation by Midcentury.” Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/newsroom/releases/archives/population/cb08-123.html
U.S. Census Bureau. (2010). “Table 4: Annual Estimates of the Hispanic Resident Population by Sex and Age for the United States: April 1, 2000 to July 1, 2009). Retrieved from http://www.census.gov/popest/national/asrh/NC-EST2009/NC-EST2009-04-HISP.xls