July 8, 2005

Chicanos with doctorates attend community colleges at higher rate than other ethnic groups

Nearly one-fourth of Chicanas and Chicanos with doctorates first attend a community college, more than two times the overall rate for all doctorates, according to a policy brief by the UCLA Chicano Studies Research Center.

That figure is more than twice that for African Americans and whites, and substantially higher than that for other Latino groups, according to the study.

Such statistics suggest that universities and community colleges should place more emphasis on making sure Chicanos transfer to a four-year university and pursue graduate studies. Although 71 percent of Latino students who enter a community college desire to transfer to a four-year institution, only 7 percent to 20 percent end up doing so.

“For Chicana and Chicano students, the community college is the most critical gateway to postsecondary education,” said Daniel Solórzano, UCLA professor of education and associate director of the Chicano Studies Research Center. “We need to support and expand those programs that facilitate students’ transfer to four-year institutions and, as our study shows, on to the doctorate.”

The study also points out that from 1990 to 2000, the rate of doctorate production for Chicanas and Chicanos in the United States increased slowly to just under 2 percent of all doctoral recipients. Nevertheless, Chicanas and Chicanos continue to be the most under-represented population within doctorate production in the United States.

Since community colleges play an early and critical role in encouraging and training students who pursue graduate and professional schools, researchers recommended:

Strengthening the “transfer function” at community colleges, which ensures that students transfer to a four-year university, and working to develop a strong transfer culture at community colleges.

Strengthening college and university training programs, including greater coordination between two-year and four-year colleges. Researchers recommend expanding such nationwide programs as Minority Access to Research Careers Undergraduate Student Training in Research, Minority Biomedical Research Support and the McNair doctoral training program to more community colleges and universities.

Emphasizing and supporting those disciplinary broad fields where Chicana and Chicano doctorate students are least likely to be found. These fields include professional fields such as engineering, physical sciences and humanities. The study found 40 percent of community college graduates with doctorates specialized in the field of education.

Solórzano also recommends that in accordance with the recent University of California and California Community College partnership, dubbed “C4 at UCR,” University of California campuses should establish and coordinate undergraduate research and policy training programs with faculty and students at University of California and community college campuses throughout the state.

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