National Journal

Of the top higher education institutions that have granted the most STEM degrees to Latino graduates in the 2009-2010 school year, more than half are concentrated in just six states, according to a new report.

(RELATED GALLERY: Photos of the top U.S.-based institutions in the report)

The report by Excelencia in Education, a nonprofit organization advocating Latino educational success, featured an analysis of institutions awarding certificates or degrees to Latino students in the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics fields. Schools were analyzed based on the number of degrees or certificates granted, then ranked by academic level. There were 25 top rankings in all, although some universities and colleges were listed more than once.

The report comes after legislators have been exploring ways to increase the number of H1-B visas to encourage more highly skilled foreign workers in STEM fields, resulting in the ensuing debates over the validity of importing workers rather than increasing resources for educating and attracting more native-born STEM students.

The universities and colleges that made the list are in Arizona, California, Florida, Massachusetts, Nevada, and Texas. According to census data, California and Texas are both minority-majority states, and the non-Hispanic white population has fallen below 60 percent in Arizona, Florida,  and Nevada.

The other institutions granting the most STEM degrees or certificates to Latinos were universities or colleges in Puerto Rico, where nearly 100 percent of the population identifies as Hispanic or Latino ethnicity.

Overall, Latinos earning STEM degrees and certificates made up just 8 percent of the total, and 40 percent of those students came from the top 25 institutions listed in the report.

The majority of Latinos earned bachelor's degrees, but the highest percentage of Latinos received certificates or associate's degrees. The report also found that Latino graduates tended to land in lower-paying jobs.

"Given the relative youth of the Latino population relative to the aging of the U.S. population overall, supporting the increased growth of Latinos with postsecondary credentials in STEM is critical to meeting the projected workforce needs of the nation by 2020," the report's authors wrote.

This article is part of our Next America: Higher Education project, which is supported by grants from the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation and Lumina Foundation.

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