New Report: Bachelor’s Degree Completion Rates among Initial STEM Majors

Posted by on March 01, 2010

The issue is not encouraging, but keeping, students in STEM

A new study from the University of California at Los Angeles’ Higher Education Research Institute finds that while more and more students are starting college with the intention of majoring in science, technology, engineering, or math, actual completion rates are lagging, especially with underrepresented minorities, according to Inside Higher Ed. Because some of the largest-ever proportions of students are entering college with an interest in STEM professions, “all the blame here can’t be placed on K-12 education” for not preparing enough American scientists and engineers, as some workforce experts and politicians argue, says co-author Mitchell Chang. Fault also lies with the nation’s colleges and universities for deterring students somewhere between freshman year and the completion of a bachelor’s degree in four or five years. “Something that happens in college — and it goes beyond just preparation — is losing students,” Chang says. Thirty percent of Latino students who started in STEM fields earned degrees in four years, while 41.6 percent completed them within five years. For black students, rates were even lower, with 23 percent of freshman STEM majors earning degrees in four years and 32.2 percent in five years, while the numbers for non-STEM majors were 49 percent and 58 percent, respectively.

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