The Council of Graduate Studies report on Graduate Enrollment and Degrees from 2007 to 2017 advises that among “first-time U.S. citizens and permanent resident graduate students in the Fall of 2017, about 23.9% were underrepresented minorities, including American Indian/Alaska Native (0.5%), Black/African American (11.9%), Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander (0.2%), and Hispanic/Latino (11.3%).” https://cgsnet.org/ckfinder/userfiles/files/CGS_GED17_Report.pdf
All groups, with the exception of Native Hawaiian/Other Pacific Islander, are underrepresented in graduate school compared to the national demographics for these groups: American Indian/Alaska Native (1.3%), Black/African American (13.4%), and Hispanic/Latino (18.5%).
These groups are particularly underrepresented in STEM fields.
If you are a student from a marginalized group, you may wish to look at a recent article in U.S. News and World Report, “Advice for Minority Students Considering Med School,” which describes the challenges that these students face — challenges that are present in all graduate and professional school programs — and steps that you can take to help you achieve success.
You will note that finding a mentor is the most important step that you can take to achieve your goals in graduate school. Thus, when considering graduate schools, you will need to find out from the Admissions staff, from faculty, and from current students if the kinds of mentors that will enable you to flourish are, indeed, present and if the environment is one that supports students from marginalized groups. Doing your research about the faculty, studying their publications, and finding out about their students are critical steps to help you determine whether you will receive the support you need.
You may want to research whether the institutions that you are considering have a Graduate Diversity Officer or a similar role, someone whose role is to increase the presence of students from marginalized groups in graduate programs and to support them in achieving success.
You can also ask the Admissions staff for data about admissions and completion rates by demographic group, which will enable you to compare rates of success. Undertaking research about the racial climate on campus will also give you a sense of how the institution is responding to recent events in the U.S. challenging systemic racial injustice, including in undergraduate and post-graduate education.
Please see twitter.com/blackintheivory, which amplifies the voices of “Blackademics” to speak truth about racism in academia.