U.S. Students Flock to Graduate Science Programs

U.S. Students Flock to Graduate Science Programs

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And now for some good news. The data are strangely absent from most discussions about the inadequacies of science education in the United States. But a new report from the National Science Foundation (NSF) finds that the number of Americans pursuing advanced degrees in science and engineering has risen sharply over the past decade and stands at an all-time high.

U.S. politicians are constantly complaining that the nation’s system of higher education isn’t producing the high-tech workforce needed to keep the country’s economy competitive. And one big reason, they say, is a lack of student interest in the STEM fields. But the numbers, at least for graduate education, tell a different story. A new NSF analysis shows that graduate enrollment in science and engineering programs at U.S. institutions increased 35% from 2000 to 2010, to a record 556,532. What experts regard as an even more sensitive barometer of student interest has shot up even faster, with first-time, full-time graduate enrollment in STEM programs registering a 50% increase over the decade.

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