STEM Summer Programs for Underrepresented Youth Increase STEM Degrees
The federal government and many individual organizations have invested in programs to support diversity in the STEM pipeline, including STEM summer programs for high school students, but there is little rigorous evidence of their efficacy. We fielded a randomized controlled trial to study a suite of such programs targeted to underrepresented high school students at an elite, technical institution. The STEM summer programs differ in their length (one week, six weeks, or six months) and modality (on-site or online). Students offered seats in the STEM summer programs are more likely to enroll in, persist through, and graduate from college, with gains in institutional quality coming from both the host institution and other elite universities. The programs also increase the likelihood that students graduate with a degree in a STEM field, with the most intensive program increasing four-year graduation with a STEM degree attainment by 33 percent. The shift to STEM degrees increases potential earnings by 2 to 6 percent. Program-induced gains in college quality fully account for the gains in graduation, but gains in STEM degree attainment are larger than predicted based on institutional differences.
We are grateful to staff of and applicants and participants in the summer programs that are the subject of this paper, as well as the host institution and its institutional research office. Because the institution is anonymous we unfortunately cannot individually thank the many people who supported this project by name. Their commitment was instrumental to this experiment, as was feedback and suggestions from Joshua Angrist, Lawrence Katz, and Amanda Pallais. Rebecca Johnson, Stephanie Owen, and seminar and conference participants at APPAM, AEFP, Colby College, the Opportunity and Inclusive Growth Initiative at the Minneapolis Federal Reserve Bank, and the University of Michigan provided helpful comments. Excellent research assistance came from Elizabeth Huffaker, Taylor Myers, Marisa Morin, and Katharine Parham. We thank the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation, the Teachers College Provost's Investment Fund, the National Center for Institutional Diversity at the University of Michigan, the Lab for Economic Applications and Policy at Harvard University, and the National Science Foundation for financial support. The National Bureau of Economic Research; Teachers College, Columbia University; Blueprint Labs; Harvard University; and the University of Michigan all provided institutional support. This study is registered in the AEA RCT Registry and the identifying number is: AEARCTR-0002888. The views expressed herein are those of the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of the National Bureau of Economic Research.
- Governments and many private organizations have invested in programs to support diversity in the science, technology, engineering,...