Of the 1,478 students who began university in West Virginia in 2011 focused on a STEM major, 337 graduated four years later with that major, a retention rate of 22.8 percent.
That number is one that the West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission is committed to increasing over the coming years.
The commission’s Division of Science and Research is focused on growing research and career opportunities in West Virginia in the science, technology, engineering and mathematics disciplines.
Data provided by the commission shows that of the 10,508 first-time freshmen that enrolled full time in 2011, 26 percent (2,732) graduated in four years. Of these graduates, 30 percent of them (833), graduated with a degree in a STEM field.
The West Virginia Higher Education Policy Commission financially supports several initiatives to increase STEM graduation rates in West Virginia with state government funding approved each year by the state legislature.
The commission contributed $277,000 to summer undergraduate research programs at Marshall, Shepherd, West Liberty, West Virginia State and West Virginia University in 2015 and 2016. And the commission’s financial aid office offers a West Virginia Engineering, Science and Technology Scholarship program, which awards up to 150 students a $3,000 scholarship. In 2015 and 2016, the annual appropriation for this program was $450,000.
Aimed at graduate students, the commission provides fellowships via their STEM Fellows program. Because West Virginia University and Marshall are the only West Virginia schools with the ability to grant Ph.Ds, they are the only two eligible to receive funding for STEM graduate fellowships. Both Marshall and West Virginia University receive $500,000 annually to provide STEM graduate fellowships.
The total amount of state funding approved in 2016 for increasing STEM research and education opportunities for students through the Higher Education Policy Commission was [XX].
Employment in West Virginia by STEM sector
A recent survey commissioned by the West Virginia Department of Commerce and WV Tech Connect found that West Virginia’s knowledge and innovation economy is thriving.
48,553 STEM professionals are employed in the state and support another 190,000 jobs in West Virginia.
- 15,490 people are employed in computer science, computer-related, or information security jobs.
- 15,481 are employed in the engineering sector.
- 7,010 are employed in life sciences, math, physics, astronomy, environmental science, and geosciences
- 5,822 are employed in chemistry-related occupations.
- 4,750 are employed in the accounting and audit sector.