Students

Students in STEM Fields Typically Outperform Their Peers, Report Says

July 29, 2009

Using data from three national studies completed from 1995 to 2006, the U.S. Department of Education released a report today that profiles the characteristics and higher-education outcomes of the roughly 15 percent of students who major in science, technology, engineering, or mathematics at postsecondary institutions.

The report says that 23 percent of first-time students in 1995-96 declared majors in one of those areas, known as STEM fields, at some point from 1995 to 2001. A higher proportion of those students identified themselves as male, young, and a dependent. They were also more likely to be Asian/Pacific Islander students, foreign students, people who spoke a language other than English as a child, and students who came from advantaged backgrounds.

Students in the STEM fields also did better than their non-STEM peers. Students who majored in STEM subjects generally were more likely than non-STEM students to obtain a bachelor's degree within six years of their initial college enrollment. About one-third of students who declared a STEM major during their first year switched to a non-STEM field over the six-year period.