The concept of the STEM MBA
The STEM MBA in the USA is a fast growing, focused and flexible degree program designed to give students the skills they need to excel in today’s business environment. It combines the rigor of a traditional MBA with hands-on experience in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM). It is designed for students who want to pursue an MBA without sacrificing their technical skills. The curriculum focuses on business concepts while providing a strong foundation in STEM subjects. Students take classes in business strategy, accounting and finance, marketing, organizational behavior and other topics that are relevant to business leaders. In addition, STEM-focused electives are offered, that usually focus on technology or analytics. Students taking these electives/specializations can choose to graduate with a STEM-certified MBA degree. Some MBA programs can be completely STEM-certified, which means that all students (irrespective of the electives/specializations they take) will be considered STEM graduates later.
The entire concept is not very old. In 2018, the Simon MBA was the first one to be completely STEM certified. Since then, multiple programs have gone on to get this certification.
‘STEM certified’ is basically a designation that is afforded by the US Government’s Department of Homeland Security to MBA programs in America. This is given to a select few programs based on the specialty and focus. With the addition of a few or more courses that focus on technical skills, a regular MBA program is converted into a STEM-Certified one.
What is a STEM MBA Program?
Simply put, the STEM MBA program can be classified as a hybrid between the MS and a regular MBA program. Owing to the way these programs are designed, candidates signing up are required to have a strong technical background. Further, the curriculum is designed so it builds on the existing technical knowledge that the candidates possess. At the end of the program, students will be equipped to execute managerial functions while exhibiting the analytical skills expected of MS degree holders.
Why the hype around the STEM MBA?
Work Visa: Currently, there is a huge amount of stress around graduation time for regular MBA students. When you graduate from a regular MBA program, you are given 12 months to find an employer who will sponsor your stay beyond that period. However, with a STEM MBA in USA, students can take advantage of the fairly lenient rules and work for up to 3 years after graduation, before requiring the H1-B visa. With such a lenient period (36 months) to work with, graduates can try to secure an H1-B visa up to 3 times instead of the one chance (with the regular MBA). This extended period makes it convenient for employers to decide if they like the employee as well.
Better Opportunities: Consider the report published by the Director of Immigration and Trade policy- Jacqueline Varas. According to this report, the US will see a shortage of 1.1 million STEM workers by the year 2024. This presents a wonderful opportunity for such professionals. The US is doing its bit so it stays ahead in the race to attract the best talent from the world over. The relaxed visa formalities are probably their attempt to attract the best candidates.
Further, in a scenario where you are trying to stay ahead of the competition and acquire the best skills, the STEM MBA offers the perfect solution. The world markets are dynamic and therefore, possessing the ability to analyze and strategize can set you apart from your peers. Those with a STEM degree display technical competence, unlike the regular MBA counterparts. Such candidates are able to balance soft skills with technical know-how making them far more attractive to employers.
How is the STEM MBA different from the regular MBA?
According to a report published by McKinsey Global Institute in 2016, most of the companies across the world are lagging behind in multiple dimensions of Data Analytics. While organizations have been placing their bets on Big Data, the transformation to a data-driven company has not been easy for many of them. While some struggle with business processes, the challenge has been hiring the right talent.
The STEM MBA is being considered as the perfect solution to this challenge. While the regular MBA program equips candidates for managerial positions, the STEM program arms them with the knowledge required to analyze critical data while making the right strategic decisions.
Consider the MSTeM (Management Science and Technology Management) program offered by Duke- FUQUA School of Business as an example here. Apart from the regular curriculum, taking an additional 8 courses (data-driven, technical), will result in a STEM-Certified MBA degree. The program offers electives such as Data Analytics for Business, Supply Chain Management, Innovation, and Crypto Ventures. An in-depth study in these areas will equip you with tools, methodologies, and models to make better decisions for your organization.
Consider the MS/MBA (Engineering Sciences) program offered by Harvard Business School.
Background: The cohort generally consists of people with undergraduate degrees in computer sciences, engineering or a related field. With about 2 years of work experience in technology-intensive industries, they sign up for the program with aspirations to lead/launch such firms.
Course: The course delves into subjects related to mechanical/electrical engineering, computational sciences, Applied Math, Physics, and Mechanics. The goal is to provide proficiency in the technical and mathematical fields while addressing application in practical technologies.
Schools Offering STEM certified MBA programs
Here is a list of STEM MBA programs offered by US business schools (with more schools applying for such a designation, the list continues to grow):
|1.||Harvard Business School||Management Science Track in Full-Time MBA|
|2.||Stanford GSB||Entire Full-Time MBA, MSx Degrees|
|3.||UPenn (Wharton)||Majors in Full-Time MBA: Actuarial Science; Business Analytics; Business Economics & Public Policy; Business, Energy, Environment & Sustainability; Operations, Information & Decisions; Statistics|
|4.||Chicago (Booth)||Entire Full-Time MBA|
|5.||Massachusetts Institue of Technology (Sloan)||Entire Full-Time MBA, Sloan Fellows MBA, Sloan Executive MBA|
|6.||Northwestern (Kellogg)||Management Science Major in Full-Time MBA|
|7.||Columbia Business School||Entire Full-Time MBA; Executive MBA|
|8.||UC-Berkeley (Haas)||Entire Full-Time MBA, Evening & Weekend MBA, Executive MBA|
|9.||Dartmouth (Tuck)||Management Science & Quantitative Analysis Track in Full-Time MBA|
|10.||Yale SOM||Management Science Concentration in MBA, Master of Advanced Management; Entire Master of Asset Management|
|11.||Michigan (Ross)||Business Analytics Track in Full-Time MBA|
|12.||Virginia (Darden)||Specialization in Management Science in Full-Time MBA|
|13.||NYU (Stern)||Entire Full-Time MBA, 1-Year Andre Koo Technology and Entrepreneurship MBA|
|14.||Cornell (Johnson)||One- and Two-Year Management Science MBAs|
|15.||Duke (Fuqua)||MBA With Track Credential in Management Science and Technology Management (MSTeM)|
|16.||UCLA (Anderson)||Full-Time, Fully-Employed, and Executive MBAs|
|17.||Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)||Entire Full-Time MBA|
|18.||Texas-Austin (McCombs)||MS in Finance, MS in Marketing, MS in Energy Management|
|19.||USC (Marshall)||Specialization in Management Science in Full-Time MBA|
|20.||UNC (Kenan-Flagler)||Business Analytics & Management Science Concentration in Full-Time MBA|
|21.||Washington (Foster)||Technology Management MBA, MS in Business Analytics|
|22.||Emory (Goizueta)||MS in Business Analytics|
|23.||Georgetown (McDonough)||Management Science Major in Full-Time MBA|
|24.||Indiana (Kelley)||Five Majors In Full-Time MBA: Accounting, Business Analytics, Finance, Marketing, and Supply Chain & Operations|
|25.||Rice (Jones)||All Master’s Programs|
What will STEM MBA programs in the USA cost?
Most schools have STEM-based ‘Masters’ programs, but the STEM MBA programs are fairly new. For instance, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business added a specialization in Management Science and Technology (STEM-Certified) to its full-time MBA program in 2017. However, the University of Rochester’s Simon School of Business is the only (and first) school in the US where all the specializations are STEM-certified (in the year 2018).
The good news is that almost all of these STEM-MBA programs feature the same cost as that of a full-time MBA program. Here’s a look at some of the best schools.
|School||Full-time MBA/STEM MBA FEES (in US$)||Period|
|Duke University-Fuqua||96,850/Same||24 months|
|University of SC Marshall School||125,000/Same||24 months|
|University of Rochester||94,000/Same||24 months|
|MIT Sloan||148,000/Same||24 months|
|Purdue University- Krannert||84,368/Same||21 months|
- The fees are an approximate figure merely to give you a broad picture
STEM MBA Prospects
There is no hiding from the fact that ‘DATA’ has become critical for every business- small, medium or large. With more companies waking up to this reality, those with the right skills are definitely going to be in demand. On the one hand you have those with leadership and business skills (MBA), and on the other, you have those who are technically strong (Masters). STEM-MBA graduates fill this gap perfectly well which is why companies such as Mastercard, Financial Service Firms, Amazon, Google, Microsoft and other Fortune 500 are actively hiring them
An example of the kind of impact the STEM MBA is having on recruitment can be seen at Duke University- Fuqua Business School. Russ Morgan is the senior associate dean (full-time programs) at the school. According to him, since the introduction of the STEM-designated track (MSTeM) technology has taken over from consulting as the dominant industry as far as recruiting is concerned. What must also be stated is that three-fourths of this (STEM MBA) class are from the international community.
Mastercard would serve as a great example in understanding how the demand for STEM MBA graduates is steadily on the rise. They hired about 2400 people in the year 2018 and 70% of them came with extensive technical knowledge (read cybersecurity, AI, Blockchain and so on). Sarah Gretczko is the senior vice president (Organization Development and People Insights). She says, when they hire, they are not looking for whizzes but candidates who embrace new-age technology with ease.
With data being considered as the new ‘oil’, it is time to consider a program that helps you ride this new wave!
Should you pursue a STEM MBA in the USA just for the OPT extension?
You should pursue a STEM MBA if the program is right for you and if it fits within your budget (if you are unsure about what an OPT extension is, see the FAQs below).
STEM MBAs are often considered to be more valuable than other MBA degrees because they can help students gain skills that are relevant to current industry needs. The programs also tend to offer more hands-on experience than non-STEM MBAs, which helps graduates gain a deeper understanding of their chosen field.
The OPT extension is the icing on the cake, but you should always choose program options that genuinely appeal to your career interests.
Unfortunately, there are very few STEM MBAs available in the US, so those who have completed undergraduate degrees in this area often have little choice but to pursue an MBA at another school or overseas.
If you do decide that pursuing a STEM MBA is worth it, we recommend selecting a program that offers courses that will enable you to gain knowledge about how technology impacts business operations and decision making.
You should also look for a program with strong connections with companies in your field of interest — such as engineering or computer science — as well as opportunities for networking with professionals who work there regularly.”
STEM MBA in the USA FAQ
Why do students pursue the STEM MBA?
The STEM MBA is designed to help students develop skills they can use to advance their careers in STEM fields. The curriculum focuses on developing problem-solving skills and critical thinking abilities that will help students succeed as leaders in their companies or organizations. Some of these courses include:
- Business Analytics
- Data Mining
- Database Management Systems
- Financial Analysis
- Operations Management
The STEM MBA degree program combines rigorous business courses with a focus on STEM fields. Students learn how to use their technical knowledge to solve real-world business problems.
The STEM MBA degree provides students with opportunities to:
- Study at top universities in the United States, including Harvard, Wharton, Stanford, and Columbia, and gain an Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension, and thus stay on longer in the USA without needing an employer-sponsored H1B visa.
- Earn valuable management experience by working on projects related to their major area of concentration.
- Develop leadership skills that can be applied not only in business but also in government agencies and non-profit organizations.
What is an H1B visa?
An H-1B visa is a temporary visa that allows foreign nationals to work in specialty occupations in the U.S. This type of visa has become extremely popular since it was created in 1990, but it has also become controversial because there are only 85,000 available each year (20,000 for those with a master’s degree or higher).
While there are other ways for foreign nationals to get a work visa in the United States, such as an O-1 or L-1 visa, many STEM students are interested specifically in studying at an American university and then working in their field after graduation. An H-1B visa allows them to do both without having to leave their studies before graduating from their degree program.
What is considered a STEM field in the USA?
The U.S. Department of Labor (DOL) has identified six categories of specialized occupations under which employers can petition for H-1B visas:
1) Computer systems analysts (requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher)
2) Software engineers (requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher)
3) Computer programmers (requiring a bachelor’s degree or higher)
4) Scientists and engineers with at least one year of experience in their field (and U.S. equivalent of a master’s degree or higher)
5) Persons with exceptional ability in the sciences, arts, education, business or athletics that have been nationally recognized as outstanding in the field by virtue of their achievements (and U.S. equivalent of a master’s degree or higher, and at least three years of experience in their field)
6) Foreign medical graduates who have completed graduate medical education in the United States on an F-1 visa
What are CPT and OPT in the USA?
OPT is a student visa that allows you to work in the US for one year after graduation. You must have an I-20 form from your university and have been accepted into a full-time degree program at the University of Utah.
CPT is the Curricular Practical Training program, which allows international students to work in the United States prior to graduation.
CPT stands for Curricular Practical Training. It allows international students to work in the U.S. while they study. There is no limit on how many hours you can work, and you may work off-campus or on-campus (wherever your degree program is located). The number of CPT hours varies by program and university, but it is typically between 16 and 24 hours per week and must be approved by your university’s international student office before you can begin working.
OPT stands for Optional Practical Training, which allows international students to work in the U.S. after graduating from college or university. You may apply for OPT immediately after finishing your program at a bachelor’s level or above (or within 60 days of completing your degree). If you have completed a post-graduate degree, then you must apply within 90 days of completing your coursework.
What is an F1 visa? Which visa type do students get?
An F1 visa is a non-immigrant visa that allows students to study in the U.S. for a certain period of time and gain practical knowledge for their future careers.
After getting an F1 visa, you can apply for an OPT (Optional Practical Training) if you want to work in the U.S. after your graduation from your university or college.
The OPT is valid for 12 months after your graduation date and you can only do one internship during this period of time. You can apply for another OPT after your first application has ended if you have not found a job yet or if you want to change jobs.
If you want to work full time while having an F1 visa, you will need to get an H-1B visa instead of an F1 visa because the H-1B visa allows foreign workers to stay longer than 12 months in the U.S., while the other one doesn’t allow more than 12 months stay in the country even if they find full-time employment here and even if they were granted an OPT before entering into the U.S.
What is the STEM OPT extension? How do I get it?
The STEM OPT extension allows international students to apply for a 24-month extension of their F-1 visa to study STEM (science, technology, engineering and mathematics) degree programs. The STEM OPT extension is available to both undergraduate and graduate students who have completed at least one academic year of full-time enrollment in a US degree program.
The 24-month STEM OPT extension is for employment only. Students can continue to study part-time during this period and are allowed to work on campus or off campus under the employer’s sponsorship. They cannot work off-campus without an employer’s sponsorship until they obtain H1B status.
To qualify for the STEM OPT extension, students must:
- Have completed at least one academic year of full-time study in a U.S. institution of higher education that is accredited by an agency recognized by the U.S Department of Education;
- Be currently enrolled in a related field at an accredited college or university as described above;
- Have graduated from a related bachelor’s degree program or obtained equivalent experience in the U.S.
Can pursuing a STEM MBA in the USA help me stay there longer?
STEM MBA in the USA is a great way to stay longer through an OPT extension as an international student.
The STEM OPT program allows international students to work full time in the US for up to 12 months after graduation, provided they have graduated with a STEM degree within the past 24 months (or have completed all coursework and exams in their program).
What other degrees except a STEM MBA can help me qualify for an OPT extension?
While this list is not exhaustive, some examples are:
Computer science – BS/MS/PhD; Software engineering – BS/MS; Information technology – BS/MS/PhD; Electrical engineering – BS/MS/PhD; Mechanical engineering – BS/MS; Civil engineering – BS/MS; Materials science & engineering – BS