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Explaining Racial Differences in Post-College Aspirations: Evidence from the NLSF

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As more jobs require advanced degrees beyond a four-year degree, a focus on any disparities in who is obtaining these degrees is warranted. This paper uses the National Longitudinal Survey of Freshmen to investigate the presence of any racial disparities in aspirations for post-graduate study. Our results indicate significant racial differences in graduate aspirations: Black students report a much greater desire to pursue academic post-secondary degrees than others, even though their measured attendance is no different. We argue that this phenomenon may be due in part to those students' aspirations being relatively insensitive to grades. There are also racial differences in intended post-graduate field of study; Black students are less likely to intend to pursue science or engineering fields, and more likely to pursue social sciences and professional degrees.

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2015-06-13

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higher education; race; post-graduate study; graduate study

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Required Publisher Statement: Published by the Cornell Higher Education Research Institute, ILR School, Cornell University.

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