Massachusetts has handed out $2 million in scholarships to students at state colleges and universities pursuing high-demand degrees.
The program announced Tuesday by Gov. Deval Patrick at the University of Massachusetts Boston was created to encourage students to pursue degrees in fields including health care, business, engineering and other job sectors that have an urgent need for skilled talent.
The state's Higher Education Department says there is a projected shortfall of 33,000 qualified graduates in the so-called STEM fields alone from 2008 to 2018.
The state has given scholarships to 800 students with an average GPA of 3.76.
Of the recipients, 52 percent attend UMass and received $3,250; 28 percent attend a state university and received $2,750; and 20 percent attend a community college and received $2,000.