Document Type


Publication Date

Spring 2021


According to several published reports, there are nearly 9 million science, technology, mathematics, and engineering (STEM) jobs in the United States, 6.2 % of total national employment. Despite a booming employment landscape, the U.S. is not graduating enough STEM majors. Attrition occurs when a student who entered college intending to graduate with a STEM degree decides to switch into nonSTEM majors, or may drop out of college altogether. Recent national statistics uncovered that STEM attrition is more serious in quantitative fields, such as mathematics, physics, chemistry, and engineering. One way to minimize the factors associated with STEM attrition is to learn from the experience of graduating seniors who persisted in STEM. Since these students are overcoming academic and non-academic issues that may have caused them to switch majors, their feedback is essential in helping shape intervention and mentoring strategies for future incoming freshmen. The purpose of this study is to use a case-study methodology and a structured-interview data collection protocol to better understand to what extent a sample of graduating biology, chemistry, physics, mathematics, and space science seniors encountered a number of factors frequently associated with STEM attrition, and how they were able to overcome these potential obstacles.