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NC State a Top STEM University

Students work in Elizabeth Loboa's lab in engineering. NC State is one of the nation's leading science and technology institutions, conferring nearly half of its undergraduate degrees in the STEM fields.

A new ranking confirms NC State’s position as a STEM education powerhouse.

The list, released Tuesday by U.S. News, establishes NC State as the No. 1 public land-grant institution among top national colleges and universities granting the largest percentage of bachelor’s degrees in the STEM fields – science, technology, engineering and math.

To make the list, institutions had to rank in the top half of national colleges and universities and grant at least a third of their undergraduate degrees in the STEM disciplines during the 2011-12 academic year. Of the 281 national colleges and universities ranked by U.S. News, only 39 made this new list of leading STEM institutions.

NC State, which conferred 48 percent of its bachelor’s degrees in STEM fields last year, ranks 17th overall and 7th among public universities on the elite list. Of its 16 official peer institutions, only eight made the list (see chart below) and only Georgia Tech scored higher, awarding three-quarters of its bachelor’s degrees in science, computing and engineering.

Why It Matters

College grads with STEM degrees face a brighter job market than others, despite the tough economy. The Department of Commerce estimates that STEM occupations will grow 1.7 times faster than non-STEM occupations in the coming decade. In order to meet these workforce demands, the United States will need approximately 1 million more STEM professionals than are projected to graduate by 2018.

NC State excels in preparing students to work in some of the fastest growing technology sectors in the economy, such as biomanufacturing, advanced analytics, computer engineering and interactive media development. The university’s strengths across a wide range of disciplines, including the humanities, social sciences and design, make for a robust student experience, with nearly limitless opportunities for collaboration and innovation. As a result, NC State graduates are among the most sought after by corporate recruiters, according to the Wall Street Journal.

Tech Schools Top the List

The STEM list is topped by the California Institute of Technology, a private school with less than 1,000 undergrads, and Colorado School of Mines, a public engineering and applied sciences school with about 4,000 undergrads. Both schools grant virtually all of their bachelor’s degrees in STEM majors.

A number of the nation’s top institutions made the list, including the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Stanford University, Princeton and Duke. In fact, 23 of the 39 schools on the STEM list were ranked among the top 50 Best National Universities by U.S. News in 2013 and five were ranked in the top 10. Top public universities on the list include the University of California at Berkeley, the University of California at Los Angeles and the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor.

To determine which college majors to evaluate, U.S. News reported that it used the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s list of science, technology, engineering and math designated-degree programs.

U.S. News developed the new ranking to promote its STEM Solutions conference.

Peer Comparison

School Name STEM Degrees
Georgia Tech 76%
NC State 48%
Purdue 44%
Virginia Tech 40%
University of California, Davis 38%
Iowa State 37%
Texas A&M 37%
University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign 35%
Pennsylvania State 33%


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