AIR, in collaboration with Quality Education for Minorities and the Kapor Center, is examining learning environments that enable undergraduate students at Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCUs) to thrive and subsequently attain doctoral degrees in science and engineering (S&E). The goals of the study are to (a) identify unique characteristics of S&E learning environments at the 21 HBCUs ranked as top producers of Black baccalaureate degree recipients who earn S&E doctorates (“anchor institutions”), (b) identify HBCUs that have similar characteristics as the anchor institutions and have a high potential to graduate students who go on to earn doctoral degrees, and (c) develop and disseminate a model that builds HBCU capacity to produce graduates who go on to earn S&E doctorates. Click here to access the project website.

Focus Areas



Historically Black colleges and universities (HBCUs) are important for diversifying the science technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) workforce. This study aims to develop a scale to understand the experiences of HBCU STEM students to spur research on the factors associated with HBCUs’ success with recruiting, retaining, and graduating Black STEM students. Nearly 3,000 undergraduate STEM students across 30 HBCUs participated in this study. The authors conducted exploratory and confirmatory factor analysis to examine the construct validity. The survey had a seven-factor structure with a comparative fit index of 0.9 and high reliability with Cronbach’s alpha ranging from 0.68-0.91. Five factors significantly predicted student outcomes, indicating predictive validity. The resulting survey, HBCU Student STEM Success Survey, provides a reliable and valid measure for HBCU STEM students’ experiences.