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Study Reveals Best States for STEM Majors

Jan. 1, 2020
Over a Decade of Data Reveals the Most Advantageous States for STEM Students — Recent research ranks which US states make it easiest for STEM majors to get STEM jobs. 3 […]

Over a Decade of Data Reveals the Most Advantageous States for STEM Students —

Recent research ranks which US states make it easiest for STEM majors to get STEM jobs. 3 metrics were used in the ranking: competitionbarrier to entry, and affordability.

There’s some surprising stuff, such as:

Wyoming is, overall, the best state for STEM majors, though much of the Mountain West ranks competitively .

States with established agribusiness and geological engineering sectors tend to rank highest: Arkansas is 2, Kansas 3.

Surprisingly, tech hub California ranks 28, hampered in part by a high cost of living and a stiff barrier to entry for STEM jobs.

Food for Thought from Our 2022 ICT Visionaries

Literally Millions of High-Paying Jobs

From 2008 to 2018, the amount of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs in the US grew 17%, and students are champing at the bit to enter that growing job market and claim their salary premium.

And that got us here at Groupon Coupons thinking: we know where all the country’s tech hubs are, but where are the places that offer the easiest transition from STEM student to STEM professional? The best value STEM degree, so to speak. So we scoured over 10 years of data from the U.S. Census Bureau and Georgetown University, and got some answers.


Our rankings looked at 3 factors: competition (the growth of that state’s STEM job market compared to the growth of STEM degrees being issued there), barrier to entry (what percentage of each state’s STEM jobs require only a bachelor’s degree), and affordability (each state’s public tuition and cost of living).

The results give us a look into which states provide the best environment for a newly-minted grad to hit the ground running. And they’re not quite what you’d expect.

The Top 5

On the strength of the lowest barrier to entry in the country — 55% of STEM jobs in the state need just a bachelor’s degree — and the lowest cost of living, Wyoming takes the top spot as best state for STEM majors.

Arkansas came in 2nd overall, likely buoyed by the presence of Walmart’s HQ in Bentonville, Arkansas and the massive amount of tech jobs that come with it, while the growth of Atlanta’s fintech scene has been the radar for years and helped push Georgia up to number 4 overall.

Kansas (3rd) and North Dakota (5th) round out the top 5 by leveraging low barriers of entry and costs of living, along with active agricultural and geological sectors that have become reliant on STEM.

(To see the research — numbers, infographics, and all — please visit

Hello, Mountain States

Wyoming (1st), Montana (6th), Utah (7th), Colorado (11th), and Idaho (15th) all rank impressively high. Like Kansas and North Dakota above, the area’s strong agribusiness, mining, and geoscience sectors all of provide a wealth of opportunities in STEM.

And when you take cost of living barrier to entry into account, the mountain west becomes the most STEM-friendly region in the country for recent grads.

Not So Fast, Tech Hubs

Everyone thinks of Pennsylvania (hello, Pittsburgh) and California when they think of STEM jobs, but that doesn’t necessarily mean those are the best places for STEM majors to get their first STEM jobs after graduation.

Pennsylvania (45th) has a middling barrier to entry, but a high cost of living and stiff STEM job competition, while California ranked 28 overall. Competition is surprisingly low in California: there are way more STEM jobs opening in California than there are STEM degrees being conferred there. Problem is, a lot of those jobs require advanced degrees, and California’s cost of living is quite high.

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