Postsecondary pathways and persistence for STEM versus non-STEM majors: among college students with an autism spectrum disorder

J Autism Dev Disord. 2014 May;44(5):1159-67. doi: 10.1007/s10803-013-1978-5.


Little is known about postsecondary pathways and persistence among college students with an autism spectrum disorder (ASD). This study analyzed data from the National Longitudinal Transition Study-2, 2001-2009, a nationally representative sample of students in special education with an ASD who progressed from high school to postsecondary education. Findings suggest that most college students with an ASD enrolled in a 2-year community college at some point in the postsecondary careers (81%). Those in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) fields were more likely to persist in a 2-year community college and were twice as likely to transfer from a 2-year community college to a 4-year university than their peers in the non-STEM fields. College persistence rates varied by gender, race, parent education level, and college pathway and major. Educational policy implications are discussed.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Adolescent
  • Child Development Disorders, Pervasive / psychology*
  • Engineering / education*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Longitudinal Studies
  • Male
  • Mathematics / education*
  • Peer Group
  • Science / education*
  • Students
  • Technology / education*
  • Universities
  • Young Adult