NCPA - National Center for Policy Analysis

Science, Engineering Degrees Grew Twice as Fast as Others

December 5, 2013

Over the last five years, bachelor's degrees for science and engineering disciplines grew nearly twice as fast as for other disciplines, says U.S. News & World Report.

A new report from the National Student Clearinghouse (NSC) shows a 19 percent growth in science and engineering decrees between 2009 and 2013, compared to a 9 percent growth in other subjects.

  • The science and engineering disciplines included in the NSC's reports include Earth, atmospheric and ocean sciences, physical sciences, mathematics and computer science, engineering, and biological and agricultural sciences.
  • But social sciences and psychology were also included because those two disciplines fall under the National Science Foundation's classification of science.

The number is a definite increase from previous years and follows a push from educators to encourage students to pursue science and math degrees. Between 2005 and 2009, science and engineering degree grew by just 7.5 percent, compared to the 19 percent growth over the last four years.

The NSC broke down the data based on sex and age:

  • In 2013, women earned 19 percent of the engineering degrees, 26 percent of the mathematics and computer science degrees, 38 percent of the physical science degrees and 38 percent of Earth, atmospheric and ocean science degrees.
  • However, women earned 62 percent of the social science and psychology degrees in 2013, although those disciplines wouldn't fall under the traditional STEM definition.
  • In 2013, students age 26 and older earned 18 percent of the bachelor's degrees awarded in science and engineering disciplines. By comparison, older students earned 30 percent of the bachelor's degrees in non-science and engineering disciplines.

Studies have indicated that by 2020, the majority of all new job openings will require a postsecondary education, with the expectation that the number of STEM occupations will increase by 25 percent.

Source: Allie Bidwell, "Science, Engineering Degrees Grew Twice as Fast as Others, Report Says," U.S. News & World Report, November 21, 2013.


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