PhD programs which graduate the most women and non-white students

Carolyn Dicey Jennings, a professional data guru who we should all be deeply grateful to, gives us the facts.  She also notes that some of the programs with the most women and non-white PhDs have recently been suggested as possibly meriting closure.  For more details, do go to her post.

Do feel free to comment either on Carolyn’s post or here.  But do observe the rules of the relevant venues.

6 thoughts on “PhD programs which graduate the most women and non-white students

  1. “[T]he programs with the most women and non white PhDs have recently been suggested as possibly meriting closure”.

    I think that’s a misleading description. What Dicey Jennings shows is that the 11 programs in Leiter’s “possibly meriting closure” list, collectively, have above-average numbers of women and non-white PhD students.

    But those 11 programs include 3 – Arizona State, Binghampton, Oregon – which clearly have very substantially above-average numbers of women and/or non-white students. (You can see this by eye, but it can be quantified by noting that these programs, but no others, deviate from the expected value by at least two standard deviations in one or other category.) And two of these three are pretty large programs (Binghampton and Oregon are, respectively, the second and fourth programs by size in the 11.)

    That raises the worry that we’re not picking up a general property of the 11 programs, but rather something specific about this small subset. That turns out to be the case: the remaining 8 programs, collectively, have *below*-average numbers of both women and non-white students (the former is clearly not statistically significant; the latter is 1.6 standard deviations below the norm, but I wouldn’t read a lot into that.)

    So by all means say that of Leiter’s 11 programs, 3 of them have a special reason for continuing because of their disproportionately strong record of recruiting women and non-white students. But that’s not in any sense a general characteristic of those 11 programs.

    (I have no view on the substantive matter of whether any or all of these programs actually merit closure!)

    Spreadsheet at

  2. As I noted over there, the tables that are provided are a little misleading. They aren’t showing numbers of non-white graduates, but numbers of non-white graduates who are also US citizens/permanent residents. The calculated percentages, on the other hand, are percentages of the total graduating population. So programs with a number of non-white foreigners will look much less diverse than they really are. Conversely, programs that are almost all domestic will look relatively better.

    It’s hard to tell without knowing the structure of the programs whether the temporary residents make the programs more diverse. Leaving out the temporary residents leaves out 30% of the Princeton class, 20% of the MIT class, etc. Many of those folks are white British, Irish, Australian etc, so they aren’t really increasing diversity. But not all of them, and the numbers involved are so small that this could make a difference to the message one draws from the data.

  3. One of the things Jennings’ post invites that I hope is not lost here is recognition that evaluating the worth of PhD programs is complex and ought at least consider what criteria are relevant. Placement obviously matters enormously, but since the conversations about closures seem to leap well away from any quantitative measure of this to far more elusive measures such as program quality or quality of training, far more discussion seems warranted ahead of any listings of closure-worthy programs. Jennings work gathering placement data is very valuable for these discussions. Likewise, her reminder that department profiles are complex is valuable and important.

  4. Hi Brian! I wanted you to know that I updated the post, according to your suggestion. The overall percentage of non-white graduates is now a bit higher, at 8.04%. Some programs may have shifted in the change, but I didn’t keep track of that. Thank you for the suggestion and let me know if you have others.

  5. We are not posting comments which declare programs to be terrible, or comments which make personal attacks on those who do. C’mon folks: we’re the “be nice” blog. Take your not-nice outside.

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