Tracking the Progress of Blacks in STEM Degree Awards in the 50 States

As reported in last week’s JBHE, from 2001 to 2009 there was only a slight increase in the number of blacks earning degrees in the so-called STEM fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Furthermore, the percentage of all STEM degrees that were earned by blacks declined during the period. In 2009, blacks earned 7.5 percent of all degrees in STEM fields. In 2001, the figure was 8.1 percent.

There are wide differences from state to state in black progress in STEM fields. In 29 states the number of blacks earning degrees in STEM fields increased at a rate greater than the national average. The most dramatic increase was in North Dakota where the number of blacks earning STEM degrees increased from 3 to 13 from 2001 to 2009. In states with significant black populations, the greatest increases were in Arizona, Kentucky, and Michigan.

In contrast, New Jersey saw a 47.1 percent reduction in the number of STEM degrees awarded to blacks. This was more than twice the rate of decline in any other state. Other states in which the number of blacks earning STEM degrees dropped by more than 10 percent are South Carolina, Illinois, California, Montana, Louisiana, and the District of Columbia.