STEM and liberal arts
Thank you for "Do Utah's high school seniors dream of technology, math careers?" Tribune, May 25), which profiled Utah high school seniors who are pursuing studies in STEM fields (science, technology, engineering and mathematics).
The Utah System of Higher Education is working with stakeholders to increase participation in higher education by Utah's students. The economic and social benefits of post-high school degrees are greater than ever. As the article noted, some of the greatest job growth is in careers that require STEM degrees and training.
I would like to clarify some of the data from my office presented in the article. The chart indicated that liberal arts/generals studies was the top major in 2011-12 at Utah public institutions. But nearly all of those general studies degrees are associate degrees obtained by students who transfer into four-year programs and subsequently obtain bachelor's degrees in more specific fields.
When specific majors are considered, the most degrees are earned in health professions, followed by business and marketing, social science/public administration and education. These fields align well with occupations identified by the Department of Workforce Services as having the highest demand and earning potential.
David L. BuhlerCommissioner of higher education
Salt Lake City