Strategies to Grow STEM Enrollment and Graduation Yield Big Impact
From summer camps to recruit new students to establishing scholarships to help current students, the University of Tennessee has a multifaceted strategy for boosting output in science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) majors—and the strategy is paying off.
System-wide, UT has seen a 43 percent increase in undergraduates enrolling in STEM majors and a 51 percent increase in STEM degrees awarded since 2010.
STEM studies range from animal science and advanced information system security to nuclear engineering and pharmacology, with a wide array of majors in between.
In 2010, 6,839 UT undergraduates were enrolled in STEM majors at Knoxville, Chattanooga and Martin. By 2014, STEM undergraduates had increased to 9,760 students. During the same time period, the number of graduate students in STEM majors system-wide increased 9 percent, from 1,920 in 2010 to 2,092 in 2014—the most recent year for which complete figures are available.
STEM undergraduate degrees jumped 51 percent – from 1,167 to 1,760 – between 2010 and 2014, while graduate degrees awarded jumped 15 percent, from 335 to 385.
Among the STEM-boosting measures, UT Knoxville partners with nearby Campbell County Schools and Union County Public Schools on the “Possibilities in Postsecondary Education and Science” project. This five-year project funded by a Science Education Partnership Award from the National Institutes of Health gives 10th graders and 11th graders in Campbell and Union counties opportunities to learn about science, technology, engineering, math and medical science careers.
At UT Martin, a $586,000 National Science Foundation grant funds scholarships and academic support for students in STEM majors. The scholarship and support dollars help lighten the load of educational loans and outside jobs for STEM students to free them up to focus on their studies.
At UT Chattanooga, the Challenger Learning Center offers a series of outreach activities and camps to engage elementary and junior high students in STEM subjects. From creating and launching model rockets to investigating animals’ habitats, the program works to boost interest in STEM areas in early school years.