New data from the U.S. Department of Education shows that for all students who began bachelor’s degree programs in STEM fields in 2003-04, 20 percent dropped out of college altogether and 28.1 percent changed to a non-STEM major before earning their degree.
When we break the data down by race, we find major differences. For Whites who began in STEM fields, 19.8 percent dropped out of college and 28.1 percent changed to a non-STEM major before earning their degree. For Blacks, 29.3 percent dropped out of college and 36 percent transferred to a non-STEM major.
Thus, nearly two thirds of all Black students who start out in STEM majors end up not getting a degree in STEM fields. The data suggests that attracting Black students to STEM fields is not the problem. It appears that major efforts must be made to increase retention of Black students in these fields.