A new report by the advocacy group Excelencia in Education found that Latinos earned just eight percent of all the degrees and certificates awarded in STEM-related professions in 2009-10.
STEM represents concentrations in science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Of the degrees awarded to Latinos, about 60 percent were at the bachelor’s level. Hispanics were also much more likely to pursue certificates, and much less likely to earn graduate degrees.
The Excelencia report is part of a series called “Finding Your Workforce,” which is identifying colleges graduating the most Latinos within specific disciplines. Excelencia stresses that business leaders will need an educated Latino workforce for the United States to remain competitive.
In the most recent study, the organization named the top 25 colleges and universities most successful in graduating the highest numbers of Latinos in STEM. The top schools were located in just six states, in addition to Puerto Rico— Texas, Florida, California, Arizona, Illinois and New Mexico. Most of the schools are public and are Hispanic Serving Institutions, which must have an undergraduate enrollment that is at least 25 percent Latino.
Excelencia found that Latinos tended to be concentrated in lower-paying STEM professions such as service technicians and were not as well represented in higher-paying jobs such as engineering.
The group ranked the top 25 schools broken out by discipline and degree level–certificates, associate, bachelor’s, master’s and doctorates.
The report also highlighted a number of programs working to increase Latino representation in STEM, and how they’re working to do so and their levels of success. For example, the Jaime Escalante Math & Science Program at East Los Angeles Community College aims to continue the famous teacher’s mission by providing inner-city youth access to challenging Advanced Placement calculus courses. The Mathematics Intensive Summer Session at California State University provides intensive math courses to high school girls during the summer.
The top schools in awarding bachelor’s degrees are as follows:
– Biological/Biomedical Sciences: the University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez with 254 graduates (second was the University of Texas-Pan American with 176)
– Physical Sciences: the University of Puerto Rico-Rio Piedras (67), with the highest school in the United States being Florida International University (51)
– Computer/Information Systems: Atlantic College in Puerto Rico (148), with the highest school in the United States being University of Phoenix-Online (96).
– Engineering: University of Puerto Rico-Mayaguez (629), with the highest U.S. school being Florida International University at 190
– Mathematics: University of Texas at El Paso (29)
If you’re a reporter, page through to see if your local school is on the list. The programs that are working to increase the numbers of Latinos in STEM tracks also could be worth a feature story.