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Where should students go to study STEM subjects?

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While political leaders in Washington debate immigration reform and debt issues, business leaders from a wide swath of industries are lamenting the deteriorating competitiveness of the U.S. in the global talent marketplace. Study after study shows the performance of U.S. students slipping when it comes to science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

“We need an American competitiveness agenda,” Honeywell Chairman and CEO David Cote said during a panel discussion at the Milken Institute Global Conference. “Our world has changed a lot in the last 20 years, and we’re still acting like we did 20 years ago.”

But if you’re a student interested in pursuing a degree in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, what regions of the U.S. offer the best opportunities. According to this Esri-powered map from the Smithsonian, the answer is the Midwest.

The “Where Are the Centers for Education Innovation?” map breaks down the number of college degrees, charter schools and schools that focus on STEM subjects across the country. And surprisingly, all three are concentrated in different regions.

Click on image to view interactive map.

While Montana, North Dakota, South Dakota, Wyoming, Maine and Maryland are the states that grant the highest amount of college degrees in STEM subjects, Arizona has the most charter schools in the U.S., according to the National Center for Education Statistics, at more than 200. There are also more than 86 charter schools in California, Colorado, New Mexico, Wisconsin, Ohio, Delaware and Florida. Schools recognized by the National Consortium for Specialized Secondary Schools of Mathematics, Science, and Technology to have goals related to transforming STEM education are concentrated on the East Coast between New York and Virginia. There are also several in Illinois and Michigan.

Contributing writer: Julia Russell