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Underrepresented Minority Students and Graduate School

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2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition


Indianapolis, Indiana

Publication Date

June 15, 2014

Start Date

June 15, 2014

End Date

June 18, 2014



Conference Session

Preparing Minority Students for Undergraduate and Graduate Research

Tagged Division

Minorities in Engineering

Page Count


Page Numbers

24.1287.1 - 24.1287.11



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Paper Authors


Mary R. Anderson-Rowland Arizona State University

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Mary Anderson-Rowland, Arizona State University
MARY R.ANDERSON-ROWLAND is the PI of an NSF STEP grant to work with five
non-metropolitan community colleges to produce more engineers, especially female and
underrepresented minority engineers. She also directs three academic scholarship programs, including one for transfer students. An Associate Professor in Computing, Informatics, and Systems Design Engineering, she was the Associate Dean of Student Affairs in the Ira A. Fulton Schools of Engineering at ASU from 1993-2004. Anderson-Rowland was named a top 5% teacher in the Fulton Schools of Engineering for 2009-2010. She received the WEPAN Engineering Educator Award 2009, ASEE Minorities Award 2006, the SHPE Educator of the Year 2005, and the National Engineering Award in 2003, the highest honor given by AAES. In 2002 she was named the Distinguished Engineering Educator by the Society of Women Engineers. She has over 185 publications primarily in the areas of recruitment and retention of women and underrepresented minority engineering and computer science students. Her awards are based on her mentoring of students, especially women and underrepresented minority students, and her research in the areas of recruitment and retention. A SWE and ASEE Fellow, she is a frequent speaker on career opportunities and diversity in engineering.

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Underrepresented Minority Students and Graduate SchoolThe technology demands on the U.S. workforce are increasing. Not only does theUnited States need more engineers and computer scientists, but now more thanever, more of these professionals are needed with a Master’s of a PhD degree.Some companies want at least half of their hires to have a graduate degree. Thereasons for this demand are obvious: companies may outsource work whichrequires low skills, but they will not outsource their research which is needed tokeep them competitive and at the leading edge in their products.On the other hand, first generation students with unmet financial need, who startedtheir postsecondary education at a community college because it was the only waythey could afford to go to college, are not usually thinking about pursuing agraduate degree before going to work as an engineer or computer scientist. Ingeneral, their main concerns include finding adequate financial support to get themthrough a Bachelor’s degree so they can find a good, well-paying job and be ableto pay off their debts and support themselves and often their family.In an Academic Success and Professional Development Program at a largeuniversity with many transfer students, we encourage all of the students, minorityand Caucasian, to go right on to graduate school. Our primary reasons include thatwith at least a Master’s degree the student more likely to: have found an area ofinterest and passion, feel confident about an area of engineering, be placed in aposition of leadership with a more interesting project, have more choices aboutwhich projects they will be involved, and be paid a considerable higher salarywhich increases.We strongly feel that the time to do graduate school is right after the Bachelor’sdegree. We are aware of students who try to work full-time with their companypaying their tuition, but who find it extremely difficult to do graduate school thisway and drop out. The paper will further discuss the pros and cons of going tograduate school right after the Bachelor’s degree.In this paper, we will particularly look at the underrepresented minority students inthe study to pull out what their main pros and cons were for going to graduateschool. Since most of the underrepresented minority students at this university areHispanic/Latino students, we will compare the 37 Hispanic transfer students with60 Caucasian transfer students for their opinions on graduate school. It isinteresting to note that before taking the Academic Success and ProfessionalDevelopment class, only 32.43% of the Hispanic students thought that they mightbe interested in graduate school and after taking the class, 89.19% thought thatthey wanted to go right on to graduate school. By contrast, 35% of the Caucasianstudents were thinking graduate school before the class, and after the class, 83.33%decided that they wanted to go right on to graduate school. The estimated nationalaverage of the percentage of engineering students who go right on to graduateschool is less than 25%.

Anderson-Rowland, M. R. (2014, June), Underrepresented Minority Students and Graduate School Paper presented at 2014 ASEE Annual Conference & Exposition, Indianapolis, Indiana. 10.18260/1-2--23220

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