Academic Success for STEM and Non-STEM Majors

  • Donald F. Whalen
  • Mack C. Shelley, II


Enrollment in STEM majors has improved recently, but there continues to be concern over students retention in those majors, especially women and minority students. The purpose of this study is to develop an integrated understanding of how multiple predictor variables affect student degree attainment, and to ascertain how those variables impact is moderated by whether students are in STEM or non-STEM majors. Six-year cohort retention/graduation outcomes are predicted for all students in STEM and non-STEM majors, and separately adjusting for whether students remain in, or shift into or away from, STEM majors. Long-term retention/graduation is predicted significantly by cumulative grade point average, financial need, aid (work-study, loan, and gift), gender, ethnicity, years living on campus, high school rank, ACT composite, out-of-state residence, and STEM status. For students starting out in non-STEM majors, six-year graduation/retention also is predicted significantly by learning community participation and whether the student switches to a STEM major.