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For-Profit Institutions Are Tops for Awarding Bachelor's Degrees to Minorities


National Journal - June 12, 2012 - by Doris Nhan

The University of Phoenix awarded the most bachelor's degrees to minorities in the 2010-11 school year, according to a new report.

The ranking reflects an important trend: A growing number of minorities are getting their degrees at proprietary institutions--the University of Phoenix, which granted 39 percent more degrees from the year before, was No. 1 for all minorities and for African-Americans, and second for Native Americans. (Editor's note: The Apollo Group, which is the University of Phoenix's parent company, sponsors Next America but has no editorial control of this story.)

The university, best known for its online-only degrees for associate, bachelor’s, and graduate students, awarded some 5,393 bachelor’s degrees in 2011. Florida International University, a public research institution, ranked second, conferring 5,164 degrees.

The preliminary rankings of the top 100 schools that produce degrees for minorities are part of an annual special report released by Diverse: Issues in Higher Education, using graduation data from the Education Department.

Overall, minorities represented almost a quarter of all bachelor’s degrees awarded in 2011, an increase from 13.9 percent in 1991. Whites and Asian-Americans represented a higher percentage of degree recipients, earning them at a faster rate than African-Americans, Hispanics, and Native Americans. The educational attainment gap has not changed since 1991, and it in fact may be continuing to grow, the report found.

Florida International awarded the most bachelor’s degrees to Hispanics, while the top five institutions awarding degrees to Asian-Americans were dominated by the University of California system.

Overall, a larger portion of degrees obtained by the three underrepresented minority groups are received through proprietary institutions, representing a decline in the overall market share for public and private institutions.

Of note, however, is that private nonprofit institutions still have the highest rate of degree completion--students who enter an institution and actually receive a degree. Nearly two-thirds of students at private nonprofits earn a degree; public schools claim a rate of 56 percent, while less than one-third of students at proprietary institutions reach completion, the report found.