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Chapter 6: Postsecondary Education

Indicator 42: Graduation Rates and Degrees Conferred

A higher percentage of female than male first-time postsecondary students who started as full-time degree-seeking students in 2004 completed bachelor’s degrees within 6 years (61 vs. 56 percent). In 2010, a lower percentage of males than females earned associate’s degrees in science,technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields (28 vs. 32 percent). In contrast, at the bachelor’s level a higher percentage of males than females earned degrees in STEM fields (28 vs. 22 percent).

About 58 percent of all first-time students seeking bachelor’s degrees who started at a 4-year college full time in 2004 completed a bachelor’s degree within 6 years. A higher percentage of females than males completed bachelor’s degrees within 6 years (61 vs. 56 percent). This pattern held across all racial/ethnic groups, with the greatest difference between Black females and males (9 percentage points) and the smallest difference between American Indian/Alaska Native females and males (3 percentage points).

The percentage of students who started as full-time degree-seeking students and completed a bachelor’s degree within 6 years varied across racial/ethnic groups. Some 69 percent of Asian/Pacific Islander students completed bachelor’s degrees within 6 years, compared with 62 percent of White, 50 percent of Hispanic, and 39 percent each of Black and American Indian/Alaska Native students. The same pattern was observed for the female subset of the racial/ethnic groups. Among males, Asian/Pacific Islanders had the highest percentage completing bachelor’s degrees within 6 years (66 percent), followed by White (59 percent), Hispanic (46 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (37 percent), and Black males (34 percent).

In 2010, postsecondary degree-granting institutions conferred a total of 3.4 million associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctor’s degrees. Of this total, 25 percent were associate’s degrees, 49 percent were bachelor’s degrees, 21 percent were master’s degrees, and 5 percent were doctor’s degrees.

Some 30 percent of all associate’s degrees conferred in 2010 were in a STEM field of study. A lower percentage of males than females earned associate’s degrees in STEM fields (27 vs. 32 percent). This pattern held between the sexes for White (28 vs. 35 percent), Black (28 vs. 31 percent), Asian/Pacific Islander (30 vs. 31 percent), and American Indian/Alaska Native students (25 vs. 27 percent). In contrast, a higher percentage of Hispanic males earned associate’s degrees in STEM fields than did Hispanic females (24 vs. 23 percent).

The percentages of associate’s degrees conferred in STEM fields varied across racial/ethnic groups. For example, 23 percent of Hispanic students earned associate’s degrees in STEM fields, compared with 26 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native students, 30 percent each of Black and Asian/Pacific Islander students, and 32 percent of White students. For both males and females, lower percentages of Hispanic and American Indian/Alaska Native students earned associate’s degrees in STEM fields than did White, Black, or Asian/Pacific Islander students.

About 25 percent of all 2010 bachelor’s degrees were conferred in STEM fields of study. A higher percentage of males than females earned bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields (28 vs. 22 percent). This pattern was observed across all racial/ethnic groups, with the greatest differences observed between both Hispanic males and females and Asian/Pacific Islander males and females (7 percentage points each). The smallest difference was observed between Black males and females (2 percentage points).

The percentages of bachelor’s degrees conferred in STEM fields also varied across racial/ethnic groups. Some 36 percent of all Asian/Pacific Islander students earned a bachelor’s degree in a STEM field, compared with 25 percent of White, 23 percent of American Indian/Alaska Native, 21 percent of Black, and 20 percent of Hispanic students. The same pattern was observed for the female subset across racial/ethnic groups. Among males, however, White and American Indian/Alaska Native students earned the same percentage of bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields (27 percent each). A higher percentage of Hispanic than Black male students earned bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields (24 vs. 22 percent).

Technical Notes

The overall graduation rate represents the percentage of full-time, first-time students who began in the fall term and graduated from the institution within 150 percent of normal program completion time. For a bachelor’s degree, this represents 6 years. Students who transferred to another institution and graduated are not counted as completers at their initial institution. STEM degrees, as defined here, include mathematics; natural sciences (including physical sciences and biological/agricultural sciences); engineering/engineering technologies; health professions and related clinical sciences; and computer/ information sciences. Degree-granting institutions grant associate’s or higher degrees and participate in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Reported racial/ethnic distributions of students by level of degree, field of degree, and sex were used to estimate race/ethnicity for students whose race/ethnicity was not reported. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. This indicator presents information on Asians and Pacific Islanders as a combined category, because the data were collected in a manner that does not permit separate reporting. Since 96 percent of all Asian/Pacific Islander 5- to 24-year-olds are Asian, this combined category substantially reflects the situation for Asians, rather than Pacific Islanders. For more information, please see the introduction to this report.

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Figure 42-1 Percentage of first-time postsecondary students who started as full-time degree-seeking students at a 4-year institution and graduated with a bachelor's degree within 6 years, by race/ethnicity and sex: Cohort entry year 2004

Figure 42-2 Percentage of degrees conferred by degree-granting institutions in science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) fields, by degree level, race/ethnicity, and sex: Academic year 200910

Table E-42-1 Graduation rates of first-time postsecondary students who started as full-time degree-seeking students, by time between starting and graduating, sex, and race/ethnicity: Cohort years 2004 and 2007

Table E-42-2 Number and percentage distribution of degrees overall and number and percentage of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees conferred by postsecondary degree-granting institutions, by degree level, sex, and race/ethnicity: Academic year 200910


  
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