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Am Psychol. 2004 Sep;59(6):547-56.

Increasing the number of African American PhDs in the sciences and engineering: a strengths-based approach.

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  • 1University of Maryland, Baltimore County, 1000 Hilltop Circle, Baltimore, MD 21250, USA.


Fifty years after Brown v. Board of Education, the percentage of African American students who receive PhDs in natural science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields remains disappointingly low. A multifaceted, strengths-based approach to intervention and research that holds great promise for increasing the number of African American students who achieve at the highest levels academically is described. This work began in 1988 with the development of the Meyerhoff Scholars Program for undergraduate minority STEM majors at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County (UMBC). If current PhD receipt rates of program graduates continue, UMBC will in all likelihood become the leading predominantly White baccalaureate-origin university for Black STEM PhDs in the nation. The program is described and outcome and process findings from its ongoing evaluation are highlighted. The parenting practices that helped these youths to overcome the odds and achieve at the highest levels prior to coming to college are also examined.

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