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Science and Engineering Degree Holders Concentrated Along the Coasts

Tue Feb 28 2012
Julie Siebens
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More than 18 million students were enrolled in undergraduate education in 2009. At some point in their education, these students will declare a major field of study. Their chosen fields will influence many other decisions over their life course, such as the probability of entering graduate or professional school, future occupation, and possibly even where the student eventually chooses to live.

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Although where people call home depends on a number of factors, local employment opportunities are influential. If a graduate with a bachelor’s degree in botany moved to New York, he or she would be among just 5 percent of that state’s population 25 and over with a bachelor’s degree to have majored in a biological, agricultural or environmental science field.

If the graduate instead moved to Wyoming, he or she would be among 12 percent of that state’s college-educated population to have a bachelor’s degree in a biological, agricultural or environmental science field.

Although all fields have some geographic variation regarding where their degree holders live, science and engineering degrees were particularly concentrated in a handful of states. The Atlantic coastal areas of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia were home to 28 percent of the nation’s science and engineering degree holders. Nineteen percent of all science and engineering degree holders lived in the Pacific coast states of California, Oregon and Washington.

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If the graduate instead moved to Wyoming, he or she would be among 12 percent of that state’s college-educated population to have a bachelor’s degree in a biological, agricultural or environmental science field.

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Although all fields have some geographic variation regarding where their degree holders live, science and engineering degrees were particularly concentrated in a handful of states. The Atlantic coastal areas of Connecticut, Delaware, the District of Columbia, Maryland, Massachusetts, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island and Virginia were home to 28 percent of the nation’s science and engineering degree holders. Nineteen percent of all science and engineering degree holders lived in the Pacific coast states of California, Oregon and Washington.

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While many Midwestern and Southern states had lower proportions of science and engineering degrees among their college-educated populations, they did have higher-than-average concentrations of people with education degrees. Approximately one-fifth of the bachelor’s degrees in North Dakota and South Dakota were in education, compared with just 8 percent in California.

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These numbers should not be understood to mean that college students from Midwestern and Southern states don’t earn science and engineering degrees, or that college students from coastal states tend not to major in education. Some graduates choose to move across state lines sometime after graduation, so when we look at the total population 25 and over with college degrees, we observe people who have grown up or been educated in many different states.

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For more details on field of bachelor’s degree, see our report Field of Bachelor’s Degree in the United States: 2009.

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