Skip to Main Content
The National Academies of Sciences, Engineering and Medicine
Board on Science Education
Division of Behavioral and Social Sciences and Education
 Barriers and Opportunities for 2-Year and 4-Year STEM Degrees
 Statement of Work

Under the auspices of the Board on Science Education (in collaboration with the National Academy of Engineering, the Teacher Advisory Council, the Board on Life Sciences, and the Board on Higher Education and Workforce), the Committee on Attracting and Retaining Students to Complete 2- and 4-year Undergraduate Degrees in STEM* will conduct a comprehensive study to understand the barriers facing two- and four-year undergraduates who intend to major in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) and opportunities for overcoming these barriers.

More specifically, the committee will survey the literature and gather information to address such questions as:

  1. What research and data are currently available to identify barriers to, and opportunities for, completion of two and four-year degrees in STEM generally and in the different STEM disciplines? What is the quality of the available research and data?
  2. What do the available research and data tell us about barriers that discourage completion and opportunities that encourage completion of STEM majors? How do the barriers and opportunities vary for students of different races and genders and across different STEM disciplines and sub-disciplines?
  3. How are these barriers and opportunities unique for STEM majors? For example, how do student perceptions of course requirements and career opportunities in the various STEM majors versus other majors influence student decisions to enter or leave various STEM disciplines? How do these perceptions vary among students of different genders and races?
  4. What policies are two- and four-year institutions implementing to attract and retain students in STEM majors, including policies targeted toward all students, toward underrepresented groups, and toward majors in the different STEM disciplines? What evidence is available about the effectiveness of these policies, and what is the quality of this evidence? How well aligned are these policies with the available research evidence about barriers and opportunities?
  5. What future research and data collection --both at the level of individual higher education institutions and nationally are needed to enhance our understanding of how to support student completion of two and four-year STEM degrees?

The committee will prepare a report that will include conclusions based on the evidence and provide research-based guidance to inform policies and programs that aim to attract and retain students to complete Associate's and Bachelor's degrees in STEM disciplines.

*Supported by the National Science Foundation, the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, and the S.D. Bechtel, Jr. Foundation.

Extra Information

PowerPoint Presentations from the Meetings

Committee Biosketches 


Commissioned Papers

Attracting and Retaining Students to complete Two- and Four-Year Undergraduate Degrees in STEM: The Role of Undergraduate Mathematics Education by David M. Bressoud

Examining STEM Pathways among Students Who Begin College at Four-Year Institutions by Kevin Eagan, Sylvia Hurtado, Tanya Figueroa, and Bryce Hughes

Ingredients for Improving the Culture of STEM Degree Attainment with Co-Curriculary Supports for Underrepresented Minority Students by Mica Estrada

For-Profit Pathways into STEM by Kevin Kinser

Our Own Worst Enemies: Regulations and Policies Affecting the Transfer of Credit between Two- and Four-Year Institutions by Ken O'Donnell

Crossing the Boundaries: STEM Students in Four-Year and Community Colleges by Hal Salzman and Michelle Van Noy

Hidden STEM Producers: Community Colleges' Multiple Contributions to STEM Education and Workforce Development by Michelle Van Noy and Matthew Zeidenberg

Committee Members

Shirley Malcom (Chair), American Association for the
     Advancement of Science
Cynthia Atman, University of Washington
George Boggs, Palomar College and American
     Association of Community Colleges (emeritus)

Pamela Brown, City University of New York
Peter Bruns, Howard Hughes Medical Institute and Cornell
     University (retired)

Charles De Leone, California State University, San Marcos
Frank Dobbin, Harvard University
S. James Gates, Jr., University of Maryland
Sylvia Hurtado, University of California, Los Angeles
Leah H. Jamieson, Purdue University
Adrianna Kezar, University of Southern California
Kenneth Koedinger, Carnegie Mellon University
Muriel Poston, Pitzer College
Mark Rosenberg, Florida International University
Uri Treisman, University of Texas
Michelle Van Noy, Rutgers University
Ben Wu, Texas A&M University




Home BOHSI Home BOSE Home BECS Home BCYF Home TAC Home Home BOTA Home CPOP Home CNSTAT Home CLAJ Home BBCSS Home Home About BOSE BOSE Mission BOSE Members BOSE Staff Our Sponsors Visiting our Buildings About BBCSS BBCSS History BBCSS Members BBCSS Staff Our Sponsors About CPOP CPOP Mission CPOP Members CPOP Staff About CNSTAT CNSTAT Members CNSTAT Staff CNSTAT Mission Other Sites of Interest TEstTAc2 About CLAJ CLAJ Mission CLAJ Members CLAJ Staff About BECS BECS Mission/History BECS Brochure BECS Members BECS Staff About BCYF BCYF History BCYF Graphic Illustration BCYF Members BCYF Staff About BOHSI BOHSI History BOHSI Members BOHSI Staff Our Sponsors Forum Home About Us Mission and Goals History Members Sponsors About BOTA BOTA Mission BOTA Members Visiting Our Buildings
left imagetext captioncenter image