Monday, May 24, 2021

What Schools Have the Most Racially Diverse* Philosophy Majors in the U.S.?

* by, of course, certain inevitably arbitrary criteria.

I was digging through the NCES IPEDS database of virtually all bachelor's degree recipients in the U.S., examining demographic trends in the philosophy major (article forthcoming soon in The Philosophers' Magazine).  It occurred to me to wonder which philosophy programs in the U.S. had the most racially or ethnically diverse undergraduate student bodies.

So I gathered all of the race/ethnicity data from IPEDS from 2010-2011 through 2018-2019 (the most recent available year), both for the university overall and for the philosophy major.  I considered all universities that awarded at least 10 bachelor's degrees in philosophy per year (90 students total over the nine-year period; included students only).  Students were included if IPEDS had recorded race/ethnicity data fitting the five most widely recognized racial/ethnic categories in the U.S.: American Indian / Native Alaskan, Asian / Pacific Islander, Black, White, or Hispanic (any race).  Excluded from the count are non-resident aliens, students with race/ethnicity unknown, and non-Hispanic multi-racial students (the last excluded due to uneven reporting).[1] In all, 235 schools qualified.

I then assumed an ideal of 20% in each of these five categories.  Of course, few universities will have 20% American Indian / Alaska Native!  (Non-Hispanic AIAN are currently about 0.9% of the U.S. population.)  In fact, among the included schools, none had more than 5% American Indian / Alaskan Native.[2]  Still, the aim of the measure is to compare with an ideal which might not closely reflect reality, and I didn't want to fuss around with fine-tuning the measure in dubious ways.  A graduating philosophy class with 20% American Indian / Alaska Native, 20% Asian / Pacific Islander, 20% Black, 20% White, and 20% Hispanic (any race) would be an impressively diverse class in a U.S. context, so I'm comfortable with that as a standard.  (Another possible standard might be match to U.S. population percentages, but it would be odd to have a diversity measure that treated a school with 5% AIAN as "less diverse" than one with 0.9% AIAN.)

My actual numerical measure, then, was just the simple, stupid, obvious sum of the squares of the differences between each school's percentage of philosophy graduates in each of the five racial/ethnic categories and 20%.  How far is each school from this somewhat arbitrary ideal of having 20% in each category?

Drum roll, please....

1. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
2. CUNY City College
3. University of California-Riverside
4. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
5. University of California-Irvine
6. San Jose State University
7. San Francisco State University
8. California State University-Los Angeles
9. University of Houston
10. California State University-Long Beach
11. California State University-Fresno
12. Amherst College
13. California State University-Sacramento
14. CUNY Queens College
15. CUNY Brooklyn College
16. University of California-San Diego
17. California State University-Fullerton
18. University of California-Santa Barbara
19. CUNY Hunter College
20. Florida Atlantic University
21. University of California-Davis
22. University of California-Los Angeles
23. Georgia State University
24. St John's University-New York
25. San Diego State University
26. University of Miami
27. California State University-Northridge
28. CUNY Lehman College
29. The University of Texas at Arlington
30. Stony Brook University
31. University of Illinois at Chicago
32. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
33. Northwestern University
34. Saint John Vianney College Seminary
35. University of Southern California
36. University of Florida
37. University of California-Berkeley
38. University of San Diego
39. University of New Mexico-Main Campus
40. Emory University
41. New York University
42. Seton Hall University
43. Northeastern Illinois University
44. The University of Texas at San Antonio
45. Rice University
46. University of California-Santa Cruz
47. Rutgers University-New Brunswick
48. Cornell University
49. The University of Texas at Austin
50. Santa Clara University
51. Dartmouth College
52. Duke University
53. Loyola Marymount University
54. Stanford University
55. University of Maryland-College Park
56. Boston University
57. University of Massachusetts-Boston
58. Princeton University
59. Johns Hopkins University
60. Columbia University in the City of New York
61. University of Maryland-Baltimore County
62. Texas State University
63. Harvard University
64. University of Pennsylvania
65. Carnegie Mellon University
66. Yale University
67. SUNY at Albany
68. Baylor University
69. University of South Florida-Main Campus
70. Trinity College
71. University of Nevada-Las Vegas
72. DePaul University
73. Syracuse University
74. University of Washington-Seattle Campus
75. University of Arizona
76. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
77. Florida State University
78. Texas A & M University-College Station
79. Fordham University
80. University of Alabama at Birmingham
81. University of San Francisco
82. Pepperdine University
83. University of Chicago
84. Hamilton College
85. University of North Carolina at Charlotte
86. University of Central Florida
87. American Public University System
88. College of the Holy Cross
89. University of Memphis
90. University of Nevada-Reno
91. East Carolina University
92. Boston College
93. Villanova University
94. Texas Tech University
95. Metropolitan State University of Denver
96. Arizona State University-Tempe
97. Brown University
98. Binghamton University
99. Hofstra University
100. George Washington University
101. William & Mary
102. Temple University
103. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
104. Vanderbilt University
105. University of Rochester
106. Virginia Commonwealth University
107. University of North Texas
108. University of Colorado Colorado Springs
109. Loyola University Chicago
110. Georgetown University
111. Bates College
112. University of Virginia-Main Campus
113. Southern Methodist University
114. Williams College
115. Brandeis University
116. Saint Louis University
117. Creighton University
118. Wesleyan University
119. Conception Seminary College
120. Tufts University
121. University of Toledo
122. Florida International University
123. University of Dallas
124. Washington State University
125. Oberlin College
126. Florida Gulf Coast University
127. University of Alabama in Huntsville
128. Washington University in St Louis
129. University of Connecticut
130. University of Colorado Denver/Anschutz Medical Campus
131. University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
132. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
133. Vassar College
134. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor
135. Colgate University
136. Towson University
137. Illinois State University
138. Bucknell University
139. University at Buffalo
140. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
141. Middlebury College
142. Wake Forest University
143. Marquette University
144. Northern Arizona University
145. Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary-Overbrook
146. University of Oregon
147. Seattle University
148. University of Utah
149. University of Notre Dame
150. University of North Florida
151. The College of Wooster
152. Ohio State University-Main Campus
153. American University
154. West Chester University of Pennsylvania
155. Northern Illinois University
156. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
157. Dickinson College
158. Miami University-Oxford
159. University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus
160. The Catholic University of America
161. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
162. Calvin University
163. University of Louisville
164. University of Missouri-Columbia
165. Whitman College
166. Franciscan University of Steubenville
167. University of Minnesota-Twin Cities
168. University of Georgia
169. University of Massachusetts-Amherst
170. Gettysburg College
171. Portland State University
172. University of Arkansas
173. Gonzaga University
174. University of Pittsburgh-Pittsburgh Campus
175. University of Akron Main Campus
176. University of Massachusetts-Lowell
177. Michigan State University
178. Clemson University
179. University of Colorado Boulder
180. North Carolina State University at Raleigh
181. University of Kansas
182. University of South Carolina-Columbia
183. The University of Texas at El Paso
184. Pontifical College Josephinum
185. SUNY College at Geneseo
186. University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee
187. The University of Tennessee-Knoxville
188. Christopher Newport University
189. University of Delaware
190. The University of West Florida
191. Western Washington University
192. Mississippi State University
193. Wheaton College
194. University of Missouri-Kansas City
195. University of Cincinnati-Main Campus
196. Purdue University-Main Campus
197. West Virginia University
198. Colorado College
199. Brigham Young University-Provo
200. University of Rhode Island
201. University of Wisconsin-Madison
202. Eastern Michigan University
203. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
204. Tulane University of Louisiana
205. Indiana University-Purdue University-Indianapolis
206. Iowa State University
207. Grand Valley State University
208. Furman University
209. State University of New York at New Paltz
210. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
211. Central Michigan University
212. Eastern Washington University
213. Auburn University
214. University of Iowa
215. The University of Alabama
216. Colorado State University-Fort Collins
217. Kenyon College
218. Indiana University-Bloomington
219. Duquesne University
220. St Olaf College
221. John Carroll University
222. University of Scranton
223. University of Kentucky
224. University of Minnesota-Duluth
225. Middle Tennessee State University
226. Western Michigan University
227. Western Carolina University
228. University of Vermont
229. University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point
230. College of Charleston
231. Utah Valley University
232. University of St Thomas
233. University of New Hampshire-Main Campus
234. University of Idaho
235. Kenrick Glennon Seminary

Here's the top ten as a picture, because that's good for social media:

Hey, UC Riverside is #3.  Go, team!

Strikingly, the top twenty positions are dominated by Cal State schools (8 spots), CUNY schools (5 spots), and University of California schools (4 spots).  Only three of the top twenty schools (Houston, Amherst, and Florida Atlantic) are not schools from one of those three large public university systems.

For perspective, the graduates of #1 ranked school, CUNY John Jay, are 0% American Indian / Alaska Native, 8% Asian / Pacific Islander, 30% Black, 29% White, and 34% Hispanic (any race).

Of course, most of the top ranked schools on the list above have very diverse overall student bodies.  When I apply the same 20-20-20-20-20 measure to student bodies as a whole, the most diverse schools are:

1. CUNY City College
2. University of Houston
3. CUNY Hunter College
4. CUNY Brooklyn College
5. CUNY Bernard M Baruch College
6. San Francisco State University
7. St John's University-New York
8. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
9. California State University-Long Beach
10. CUNY Queens College
11. San Jose State University
12. California State University-Sacramento
13. University of Illinois at Chicago
14. Georgia State University
15. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
16. University of California-Riverside
17. California State University-Fullerton
18. University of California-Los Angeles
19. Stanford University
20. University of San Francisco

How about measuring the difference between the diversity of the student body as a whole and the diversity of the philosophy department?  What schools draw relatively diverse philosophy students from relatively less diverse overall student bodies?  I've done it as a simple subtraction of the previous two measures.  Fifty-two schools (23%) have more diverse philosophy students than their student body overall:[3]

1. Trinity College
2. Bucknell University
3. Villanova University
4. Hamilton College
5. Bates College
6. Illinois State University
7. Calvin University
8. College of the Holy Cross
9. The University of Texas Rio Grande Valley
10. University of San Diego
11. California State University-Los Angeles
12. Miami University-Oxford
13. University of Toledo
14. Slippery Rock University of Pennsylvania
15. East Carolina University
16. Gettysburg College
17. Creighton University
18. Pennsylvania State University-Main Campus
19. West Virginia University
20. Brigham Young University-Provo
21. Clemson University
22. University of California-Irvine
23. Franciscan University of Steubenville
24. Texas A & M University-College Station
25. Baylor University
26. Saint Louis University
27. University of Florida
28. Northwestern University
29. University of Colorado Colorado Springs
30. West Chester University of Pennsylvania
31. University of Missouri-Columbia
32. Dickinson College
33. Conception Seminary College
34. Oberlin College
35. Marquette University
36. Colgate University
37. Ohio State University-Main Campus
38. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
39. University of California-Riverside
40. Wake Forest University
41. University of Alabama in Huntsville
42. Washington State University
43. University of Utah
44. Louisiana State University and Agricultural & Mechanical College
45. Iowa State University
46. University of Minnesota-Duluth
47. University of Akron Main Campus
48. Southern Illinois University-Edwardsville
49. Florida State University
50. Boston College
51. Middlebury College
52. University of California-San Diego

For perspective, the overall graduates of #1 ranked school, Trinity College, are 0% American Indian / Alaska Native, 6% Asian / Pacific Islander, 7% Black, 79% White, and 9% Hispanic (any race); while their philosophy graduates are 0% American Indian / Alaska Native, 4% Asian / Pacific Islander, 12% Black, 68% White, and 15% Hispanic (any race).

Since typically the philosophy major is less racially/ethnically diverse than the student body as a whole, it could be interesting to see what practices these schools employ that might be responsible for having reversed that general trend.

Updates, May 25

1. Since most of the top 20 schools on the first list are public, some readers were curious whether public schools are in general more diverse than private schools.  I ran the numbers today and actually did not find a statistically detectable effect overall.  The mean diversity score was 0.42 for the public schools, 0.40 for the private schools (t = 1.0, p = .30).  Eyeballing, the explanation seems to be that public schools might be disproportionately among the most diverse and the least diverse (by this measure), depending on the diversity of their locale, while private schools cluster more near the middle.

2. Another reader asked about Historically Black Colleges and Universities.  None qualified for the list above, because none met the cutoff number of philosophy major completions (90 in the past ten years).  The three HBCUs with the most philosophy graduates were Morehouse (67), Morgan State (41), and Howard (40) (not including a few multiracial, race/eth unknown, and non-resident students, for comparability with the methods above).

3. Pertinent to 2, IPEDS similarly has a "tribal colleges" category including 34 schools (as of 2018-2019).  IPEDS, strikingly, lists no bachelor's degree recipients in category 38.01 ("Philosophy") for any of these schools.  However, most of these colleges award few bachelor's degrees.  The largest, Haskell Indian Nations University, awarded only 755 bachelor's degrees total over the nine year period.  Schools of that size will typically lack the enrollments needed to sustain a philosophy major.

4. Various readers suggested alternative measures of diversity, especially measures more sensitive to differences in local context.  I support that.  I don't mean to suggest that this is the only or best measure of racial diversity.  It's simply a convenient and straightforward measure that I hope captures something useful.


[1] University of Washington, Bothell, is also excluded since it seems to have erroneous or at least unrepresentative data.  The category "two or more races" would have been nice to include, but NCES appears to have measured it inconsistently over the period, with demographically implausible sharp increases in this category.  Furthermore, elite schools appear to have been faster than nonelite schools to classify their students in that category once NCES opened it.  "Nonresident alien" is also potentially an interesting category from the perspective of diversity, though this category also tends to favor elite schools that draw foreign students.  If these two categories are added to the measure and the target proportions are reduced to 1/7 per group, the top ten most diverse philosophy majors are:

1. Wellesley College*
2. California State University-East Bay*
3. CUNY John Jay College of Criminal Justice
4. CUNY City College
5. St John's University-New York
6. University of Hawaii at Manoa*
7. University of California-Riverside
8. California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
9. San Francisco State University
10. Amherst College
[* not included in main post ranking, because fewer than 10 BAs per year in the five target categories; revised May 25]

[2] The top five schools in terms of percentage of graduating American Indian / Native Alaskan philosophy majors are as follows.  Given the small numbers, there will be a lot of noise in these estimates, so I present the AIAN / total numbers in parentheses after the schools:

1. Eastern Washington University (5/93)
2. University of New Mexico-Main Campus (14/301)
3. University of Alabama in Huntsville (4/95)
4. University of Nevada-Reno (4/126)
5. California State University-Long Beach (8/262)

Given the small numbers, extending beyond the top five probably doesn't make sense.  The 9th and 10th ranked campuses only graduated 2 AIAN philosophy majors during the period.

[3] Updated 12:46 p.m. to include all 52.


Unknown said...

This is great, thanks so much. I would indeed love to learn what programs that are "punching above their weight", diversity-wise, are doing.

Anonymous said...

Who cares?

Sorry, but the unquestioning acceptance of the new catechism is annoying
(Yes, the old catechism had some reasonable stuff too. So what?)

Eric Schwitzgebel said...

Thanks, Unknown!

Anon May 25: This post seems to have annoyed more than the usual number of people, based on my Facebook and Twitter feeds. Ah, well!