Characteristics of US students that pursued a STEM major and factor predicted persistence in degree completion

Thumbnail Image
Issue Date
Mau, Wei-Cheng J.

Mau, W.-C. (2016). Characteristics of US students that pursued a STEM major and factors that predicted their persistence in degree completion. Universal Journal of Educational Research, (4)6, 1495-1500. doi:10.13189/ujer.2016.040630.


Low participation and completion rates in the science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) careers are a world-wide concern. This study tracked American college students over a 5-year period and identifies factors that lead to choosing a STEM major and in turn successfully earning a STEM degree. Characteristics of female and minority students who participated in the STEM pipeline during 2008-2013 were compared with their counterparts. Results show significant gender and racial differences in entering, completing, and persistence in the STEM pipeline. Female and minority students, except for Asian American students, were less likely than male or White students to declare a STEM major. Similarly, among those who completed a STEM major, a smaller percentage of female and minority students completed their degree in 5 years than their counterparts. White male students, high school GPA, college GPA, and first year college credit hours earned significantly predicted persistence in completion of a STEM major, whereas first time college students, transfer students, and students took remediation courses were less likely to persist. Implications for counseling interventions are discussed.

Table of Content
Copyright©2016 by authors, all rights reserved. Authors agree that this article remains permanently open access under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution License 4.0 International License