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January 26, 2010

Study Asks 10 Years of Science Graduates

What They Think About Science at Bethlehem University

ScienceProfessor Adnan Shqueir, Biology Chairperson, wanted to know how well the Faculty of Science programs at Bethlehem University were serving their students, so he surveyed ten years of Bethlehem University science graduates to explore how well the University science programs had prepared graduates for the future. In a project funded by one of the University’s Internal Research Grants, he asked science graduates how well the science programs at Bethlehem University had prepared students as professionals, whether or not internship/practicum placements had helped students find employment after graduation, what graduates saw as the science programs’ strengths and weaknesses and how they perceived the overall quality of their classes at Bethlehem University.

By describing how former students feel about their Bethlehem University education, Professor Adnan hopes to give science faculty the data they need to plan the department’s future.

Number of the faculty of science graduates during the period of 1999-2008

 Department            Legend
 Total Computer Physics Math Chemistry  Biology  
 634  61  49  162  185  177  Number of graduates
 100  10  8  25  29  28  Percent of the total


Distribution of science graduates in the surveyed sample

 2008  2007  2006  2005  2004  2003  2002 2001 2000 1999 Year of graduation
12 11 12 10 10 9 10 7 12 7 Percent

ScienceOut of the 105 alumni asked to participate in the survey, 100 actually completed the survey, and their answers were generally positive. The majority of them, for example, believed that their Bethlehem University education had prepared them for their professional lives. Of the biology, chemistry and computer graduates surveyed, 80%, 74% and 80%, respectively, saw their science internship/practicum experience as “very useful” in their current careers. An additional 53% of medical technology minors and 65% of industrial chemistry minors found their undergraduate laboratory experiences “very useful” in their careers. Besides providing practical training, 73% of the graduates reported that their science majors at Bethlehem University had either “always” or “often” helped them find a job. An overwhelming majority of the physics, chemistry, biology and math majors surveyed were working as teachers, while computer majors showed a wider range of occupations.

Distribution of the surveyed students based on their postgraduate studies

 Physics  Mathematics  Chemistry  Biology  Legend
 20  35  35  36  Teaching diploma
 20  20  17 20  Master and/or PhD

Distribution of the surveyed students based on their occupation
(Percentages were calculated based on the sample size in each major*)

Physics Computer Math Chemistry Biology Major
100 30 95 70 72 Teacher
- - - - 16 Lab assistant
- 20 - 13 25 Researcher
- 10 5 6 - Sales/accountant
- 30 - - - Computer lab
- 20 - 13 12 Not working

*Sometimes the graduate has more than one job and/or worked in different places, so the percentage by major may not add up to 100%.  

ScienceConsistent with the findings on alumni occupations, 30% of them also held a teaching diploma. That information makes sense, says Professor Adnan, “since no graduate can be employed as a teacher in the public sector unless s/he has finished or is currently enrolled in a teaching diploma program.” Another 18% of the alumni had earned master’s degrees in fields like biotechnology, teaching and mathematics. Additionally, 36% of the alumni had attended at least one workshop or training course, with almost 13% of them reporting that they had attended an education-related workshop.

In their comments, the surveyed alumni suggested that the University include science teaching methods at the undergraduate level and that there be more major options for science students. Still, alumni reported that the “courses of the [science] program are well thought out, diversified and suitable to ensure very good academic preparation of the graduates,” and that “the University graduates a well-rounded individual equipped with enough knowledge in his/her major and general knowledge as well.”


Bethlehem University Foundation
Phone: +1-240-241-4381
Fax: +1-240-553-7691
Beltsville, MD USA
Bethlehem University in the Holy Land
Phone: +972-2-274-1241
Fax: +972-2-274-4440
Bethlehem, Palestine