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Nation's Top Colleges for Producing Latino STEM Graduates

Excelencia in Education—a public policy and advocacy group that supports the success of Latinos in higher education—this afternoon has published a report that lists the top colleges and universities that are awarding degrees and certificates to Latinos in the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

This report is the third in a series that Excelencia has done to draw attention to the direct connection between Latinos' higher education success and the future strength of the American workforce.

Overall, the report found that Latinos earned just 8 percent of the STEM certificates and degrees awarded in 2009-10 and that 40 percent of those graduates came from just 25 colleges and universities. The report lists the top 25 institutions at each academic level—certificate, associates degree, bachelors degree, Master's degree, and doctoral—graduating Latinos in each of several more specific STEM fields such as biological sciences, physical sciences, engineering, and mathematics.

The report also singles out the top institution for each academic level and specific STEM category. For awarding bachelors degrees across the STEM fields, Puerto Rico owned all but one category. Higher education institutions in Puerto Rico also dominated the Master's degree category. For STEM doctorates, Stanford University, the University of Florida, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and Arizona State University were among the best.

Of course, most every student in a Puerto Rican college or university is going to be Latino, by virtue of the population. And Texas—home to a huge Hispanic community—has a good representation among the institutions earning the top spots for producing Latino STEM graduates.

But a state like California, with one of the largest Hispanic populations in the nation, has only one institution that earned a top spot in any category, and it's Stanford, which ranked number one for Latinos earning doctoral degrees in biological and biomedical sciences. None of the state's public institutions—there are 112 community colleges, 23 California State University campuses, and 10 University of California campuses—ranked in the top spot for any other category, though many of them do appear among the top 25 across the specific STEM categories.

To my mind, that's a pretty serious indictment of how much work needs to be done in California to prepare Latino students for, and encourage them to pursue, STEM careers. And this is a state that is home to so many of the world's most innovative and powerful technology companies. The report does highlight several successful college preparation, outreach, and support and retention programs for Latino and other minority students in the STEM fields at California institutions such as the University of California, Davis and East Los Angeles Community College.

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