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Black History Month 2021: Celebrating Duke's First Black Ph.D.s

In celebration of Black History Month, The Graduate School is taking a look back at its first Black Ph.D. graduates. Check this page each week throughout the month for updates.

The First Two

The graduate and professional schools at Duke desegregated before the undergraduates. The Graduate School's first Black students enrolled in 1962, and 1967 saw Duke's first Black Ph.D. graduates: Ida Stephens Owens and James Roland Law. Here is their story.

A graphic showing the first Black Ph.D. Graduates at Duke.

The Next 10 Years

In the decade after Law and Owens graduated, another 19 Black students earned their Ph.D. from Duke. Here is a look at this group of trailblazers.

black history month


Black Ph.D. Graduates: Year By Year

Dive into the data on the number of Black students who received their Ph.D. through the decades.

Black graduates by the numbers


First in Each Program

See when each Duke Ph.D. program had its first Black graduate in this interactive timeline.