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Dr. Kat’s List: Five Colleges for STEM Majors

STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) is a hot topic in higher education, with many colleges expanding their STEM programs in order to meet student demand. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, “employment in occupations related to STEM is projected to grow to more than 9 million between 2012 and 2022.”

Students interested in science, technology, engineering, and math have a variety of college options – from specialized institutions to large universities and small private colleges. It’s tempting for STEM students to immediately explore institutions like MIT, Stanford, Purdue, and similar schools that are well-known for strong STEM programs, however there are other colleges with great STEM options that students may not immediately consider. Many of these colleges have unique programs with great ROI, making for an attractive college choice.

From exceptional engineering programs to unique math concentrations, here are Dr. Kat’s colleges for STEM majors.

Stony Brook University, Stony Brook, NY
In the shadow of colleges like NYU, Columbia, and Cornell, it can be hard for other New York-based universities to stand out. However, Stony Brook University on Long Island has made a name for itself in STEM education.

Listed as one of PayScale’s top ROI colleges in the field of life science, Stony Brook offers a great education with an even better return – with an annual ROI of 10.2% for in-state students. Undergraduates in the College of Arts and Science can major in biochemistry, chemistry, mathematics, physics, and more.

In addition to undergraduate science and math majors, the college is also home to the Center for Science and Mathematics Education, a STEM education-focused center with the aim of nurturing and developing talent across all STEM fields. The center offers a range of activities for graduate and undergraduate students, K-12 students and teachers, and college faculty. Since its inception in 1994, the center has educated more than 45,000 middle and high school students in the Biotechnology Teaching Center. Over 500 teachers have earned advanced teaching degrees in science and math in through the center’s programs.

Southern Methodist University, Dallas, TX
Southern Methodist University is a private research university located in Dallas, TX with an exceptional engineering program that’s sometimes overlooked in favor of larger, more well-known institutions.

SMU might not be at the top of STEM students’ minds, but the university’s Lyle School of Engineering offers a variety of engineering and technology programs including civil, electrical, mechanical, and environmental engineering, as well as computer science. In terms of ROI, STEM graduates from SMU earn competitive salaries, with senior software engineers’ median salary topping $100,000. In general, SMU graduates earn an estimated starting salary around $76,000.

Undergraduate engineering and technology students have ample research opportunities, as well as access to specialized study abroad programs like Engineers Without Borders. What makes SMU’s STEM education so exceptional is the continued focus on liberal arts – all undergraduate STEM students are required to take at least 29 hours of liberal studies courses.

Louisiana Tech University, Ruston, LA
Another college with a great engineering program that students might not immediately consider is Louisiana Tech University, located in Ruston, LA.

LA Tech’s College of Engineering and Science offers a myriad of STEM majors including computer science, civil engineering, mathematics and statistics, construction engineering technology, and the nation’s first four-year undergraduate cyber engineering program. LA Tech’s cyber engineering major is unique to the university, combining computer science, electrical engineering, math, and humanities studies in order to study and develop solutions for cyber security.

This public research university also has a great ROI for STEM graduates with engineering project managers and senior mechanical engineers earning median salaries upwards of $97,000. According to PayScale, the annual ROI for in-state engineering graduates at LA Tech is 13.7% and 12.7% for out-of-state students.

University of Washington, Seattle, WA
Considered a “public Ivy,” the University of Washington in Seattle is one of the premier research universities in the US with many areas of study for STEM students – including a unique mathematics department and a top-notch aeronautics program.

In Washington’s Department of Mathematics, math students are not just educated on the fundamentals of mathematics, they also explore “abstract thinking, logical rigor, analysis, expository clarity, and critical writing.” Students can pursue traditional BA or BS degrees in math, but Washington also offers a unique philosophy option, allowing students to combine philosophical studies with mathematical reasoning. This degree track gives students a more liberal studies base – something critical to the success of students in STEM fields.

Looking for a major that’s more “out of this world?” The aeronautics and astronautics department within Washington’s College of Engineering is one of the best of its kind – allowing students to research and gain experience with some of the world’s top aerospace organizations like Boeing and NASA.

University of California – San Diego, San Diego, CA
Science-focused STEM students don’t always have to conform to the standard biology and chemistry majors. At the University of California – San Diego, students interested in life sciences can major in earth sciences and marine biology through UCSD’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography.

Marine biology majors are poised to help solve some of the world’s most pressing environmental problems through their understanding of marine life, its biology and evolution, and marine ecosystems. With UCSD’s proximity to the ocean, students are frequently learning outside of the classroom on field trips to intertidal zones, salt marshes, and other marine ecosystems. Through programs at Scripps, students have gone on to explore unique fields of interest, like oceanographic engineering, climate sciences, and marine chemistry.

There are a number of colleges and universities with great STEM programs in the US, including University of Maryland, Carnegie Mellon University, Georgia Institute of Technology, Boston University, and more. Students interested in STEM should spend time in high school developing their interests and participating in STEM-based activities in order to narrow and specialize their focus. Doing ample research is key to finding great-fit STEM programs that match students’ needs and goals.

If you need help researching STEM programs or finding relevant extracurricular activities to deepen your experience in a STEM-related field, contact us today for more information on our counseling and research services.

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