Top states with the most STEM graduates

by Josh Bays, on Sep 23, 2015 3:20:25 PM

Companies that need scientific, technical and engineering talent rely on STEM graduates to fulfill the needs of their workforce. Hiring and retaining talent can be a challenge for companies if they are not recruiting regions that produce graduates in these fields.

Site Selection Group, a global site selection and economic incentives firm specializing in labor analytics, used recent data from the Department of Education to compare the concentration of graduates in science, technology, engineering and mathematics by state and metro area. STEM degrees for this analysis included mathematics and statistics, physical sciences, biological sciences, engineering and engineering technologies, science technologies, computer and information sciences, agricultural sciences and natural resources and conservation.

California produces the most STEM graduates

Based on preliminary data from the Department of Education, California, Texas and New York graduated the greatest number of STEM degrees in 2014. The following map shows graduates by state.

The following lists profile the top five states based on total graduates and concentration of STEM graduates compared to all completions:


  1. California

    California graduated 74,765 students with STEM degrees. California had more graduates than any other state in six out of nine major categories used as STEM degrees, including mathematics and statistics, engineering, and computer science.  STEM graduates represented about 13.1% of all conferred degrees.
  1. Texas

    Texas had 47,863 students graduate with STEM degrees last year and led the nation in the remaining three categories—engineering technologies, science technologies and agricultural sciences. The STEM category was 14.9% of the total.
  1. New York

    New York graduated 42,938 with degrees in one of these categories. The largest category among the STEM degrees in this state was engineering with 10,911. STEM was 13.07% of total completions.
  1. Florida

    Florida graduated 32,603 in STEM; the majority of those were in computer science. STEM was about 10.2% of total completed degrees.
  1. Pennsylvania

    Pennsylvania finishes the top five in total numbers with 32,117 graduates. Engineering was the largest category of graduates in the state.  STEM was 15.9% of degrees conferred.


STEM graduates relative to all graduating students can be an important indicator

For companies looking to hire STEM graduates, total numbers are one indicator. It is also helpful to compare total statistics with the overall size of the university system to gauge the true concentration of STEM graduates. South Dakota had fewer STEM graduates than California, but had the highest concentration compared to total degrees conferred.

The following states had the highest concentration of STEM graduates:

  1. South Dakota

    Approximately 21.3% of all graduates in 2014 received a STEM degree in South Dakota. Engineering was the largest category of completions.
  1. Montana

    Of all graduates in Montana, 21.1% received a degree in STEM. As in South Dakota, engineering was the largest category.
  1. Maryland

    Out of the top five by concentration, Maryland had the greatest number of graduates overall at 16,614.  This represents 19.6% of total conferred degrees. Most STEM degrees in Maryland were in computer science.
  1. North Dakota

    North Dakota’s STEM category was 17.9% of total graduates in 2014. The largest category was engineering.
  1. Vermont

    17.5% of graduates in Vermont completed a STEM degree. Biological sciences, and natural resources and conservation tied for the most graduates in this state.



Whether locating a headquarters operation, call center, back office operation, manufacturing plant or distribution center, it is critical to consider all STEM graduate statistics. High absolute numbers may not mean that certain skills dominate the market compared to the overall size of student completions. Site Selection Group advises its clients to thoroughly consider all implications of the data to choose the best place for a new location.





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