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Indicator 24: STEM Degrees
(Last Updated: July 2017)

Overall, a higher percentage of bachelor's degrees were awarded to females than to males in 2013–14 (57 vs. 43 percent). However, in STEM fields, a lower percentage of bachelor's degrees were awarded to females than to males (35 vs. 65 percent). This pattern—in which females received higher percentages of bachelor's degrees overall, but lower percentages of bachelor's degrees in STEM fields—was observed across all racial/ethnic groups.

Young adults with bachelor's or higher degrees in the fields of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) tend to have more positive economic outcomes, such as higher median earnings, than those with degrees in non-STEM fields.1 This indicator examines the percentage of bachelor's degrees awarded in STEM fields by race/ethnicity and gender.


Figure 24.1. STEM bachelor's degrees as a percentage of total bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity: Academic year 2013–14

Figure 24.1. STEM bachelor's degrees as a percentage of total bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity: Academic year 2013–14


1 Nonresident alien students are not included in the total.
NOTE: Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. 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. STEM fields include biological and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences and science technologies. Although rounded numbers are displayed, the figures are based on unrounded estimates.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2014, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, tables 318.45 and 322.30.


Of the 1.8 million bachelor's degrees awarded to U.S. citizens in 2013–14, about 319,000 (17 percent) were in STEM fields. However, the percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded varied by race/ethnicity. For example, the percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to Asian students (31 percent) was almost double the percentage awarded to students overall. The percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to students of Two or more races (18 percent) was also higher than the percentage awarded to students overall. In contrast, the percentages of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to Black (11 percent), American Indian/Alaska Native (14 percent), Hispanic (14 percent), and Pacific Islander students (15 percent) were lower than the percentage awarded to students overall. The percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to White students (17 percent) was about the same as the percentage awarded to students overall.


Figure 24.2. Percentage of total and STEM bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and gender: Academic year 2013–14

Figure 24.2. Percentage of total and STEM bachelor's degrees conferred by postsecondary institutions, by race/ethnicity and gender: Academic year 2013–14


1 Nonresident alien students are not included in the total.
NOTE: Data are for postsecondary institutions participating in Title IV federal financial aid programs. Race categories exclude persons of Hispanic ethnicity. 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. STEM fields include biological and biomedical sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences and science technologies. Detail may not sum to totals because of rounding.
SOURCE: U.S. Department of Education, National Center for Education Statistics, Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS), Fall 2014, Completions component. See Digest of Education Statistics 2015, tables 318.45, 322.30, 322.40, and 322.50.


Overall, a higher percentage of bachelor's degrees were awarded to females than to males in 2013–14 (57 vs. 43 percent). However, in STEM fields, a lower percentage of bachelor's degrees were awarded to females than to males (35 vs. 65 percent). This pattern—in which females received higher percentages of bachelor's degrees overall, but lower percentages of bachelor's degrees in STEM fields—was observed across all racial/ethnic groups. While the percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to White females (33 percent) was lower than the percentage awarded to females overall (35 percent), the percentages awarded to females within each of the other racial/ethnic groups were higher than the percentage awarded to females overall. The gap between the percentage of STEM bachelor's degrees awarded to males versus females was largest for White students (34 percentage points) and narrowest for Black students (12 percentage points).

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1 Ross, T., Kena, G., Rathbun, A., KewalRamani, A., Zhang, J., Kristapovich, P., and Manning, E. (2012). Higher Education: Gaps in Access and Persistence Study (NCES 2012-046). U.S. Department of Education. Washington, DC: National Center for Education Statistics. Retrieved August 2015 from https://nces.ed.gov/pubs2012/2012046.pdf.