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The Foreign Born With Science and Engineering Degrees: 2010

Report Number ACSBR/10-06
Christine Gambino and Thomas Gryn
Component ID: #ti549469217

Introduction

Knowledge and application of science, engineering, and technology play an increasingly crucial role in the growth and stability of the U.S. economy. The U.S. Department of Commerce reports that over the past 10 years, growth in science and engineering (S&E) jobs was three times greater than that of other types of jobs.1 In addition, science and engineering jobs are expected to continue to grow at a faster rate than other jobs. As a result, workers in S&E jobs are less likely to experience joblessness. Furthermore, S&E degree holders earn more than those who have degrees in other fields, regardless of whether or not they end up working in S&E occupations.

This brief will discuss patterns of science and engineering educational attainment within the foreign-born population living in the United States, using data from the 2010 American Community Survey (ACS). The analysis is restricted to the population aged 25 and older, and the results are presented on S&E degree attainment by place of birth and sex, as well as metropolitan statistical area. Science and engineering fields of degree, as defined by the U.S. Census Bureau, are divided into seven subcategories: 1) computers, mathematics, and statistics; 2) biological, agricultural, and environmental sciences; 3) physical and related sciences; 4) psychology; 5) social sciences; 6) engineering; and 7) multidisciplinary sciences.

Determination of field of degree is based on the respondent’s answer to the 2010 ACS question: “What was the specific major or majors of any bachelor’s degrees you have received?” Those with a bachelor’s degree may or may not also have a higher degree; however, fields of degree for master’s, doctoral, and professional degrees are not analyzed in this report because field of degree is only assessed at the bachelor’s degree level in the American Community Survey.

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1 Langdon, David, George McKittrick, David Beede, Beethika Khan, and Mark Doms. 2011. “STEM: Good Jobs Now and for the Future.” U.S. Department of Commerce: Economic and Statistics Administration, Issue Brief #03-11. Available at <www.esa.doc.gov/sites/default/files/reports/documents/stemfinalyjuly14_1.pdf>. Langdon et al. use the term “STEM” to refer to science, technology, engineering, and mathematics jobs and degrees. In this report, the science and engineering category includes such fields as biological sciences, physics, computer sciences, and social sciences, and is similar to, but not exactly the same as, the definition of STEM fields used by other researchers.

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