Business schools like NorthWestern Kellogg, Michigan Ross, Dartmouth Tuck, Columbia Business School, UNC Kenan-Flagler, and others have designated part of their full-time MBA programs as STEM in the last few months.
Stanford GSB working on STEM certification came into limelight after a widely discussed op-ed by a current graduate student that the efforts to achieve Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math certification are under process but, for which programs, and on what timeline is still undecided.
The op-ed, by Anupriya Dwivedi, asks Stanford to “ work towards obtaining a STEM certification for its MBA and MS degrees by closely collaborating with comparable peer institutions.” She also points out that the current management degrees at Stanford have enough STEM-appropriate material, and pushing STEM classification will help it to escape the decline in applications.
Business schools inclining towards STEM not only reflects the need to integrate analytics and technology into the curriculum, but it’s also a response to the plunge in international applications.
According to the GMAC Application trend 2019, international applications at top-50 full-time MBA program were significantly down (-21% or more) as compared to last year. The decline in the international application is mostly due to immigration hurdles and the increasing cost of the degree.
But how will a STEM-designation attract more International Students?
STEM-Certified US Programs Report Growth in International Application
STEM MBA programs are becoming popular among international students as these programs bring along with it an extended visa duration. A non-US citizen who graduates with STEM-certified programs can apply for an additional 24-month stay in the country as a part of optional practical training (OPT) for F-1 visa students.
An OPT is the temporary work authorization. It allows international students to work in the U.S. to complement their studies. The general post-degree OPT is 12 months, but if your degree has STEM certification, you can extend this period to three years, without needing an H-1B visa.
According to the GMAC survey 2019, 36% of the non-US citizens who prefer to study in the United States are considering a STEM program. In fact, a total of 195 of the 804 (24%) responding US programs self-reported that their program is STEM certified.
Although the majority of both non-STEM (57%) and STEM-certified (53%) programs reported a decline in the total application, STEM-certified programs attracted more international applicants. Besides, 43% of STEM-certified programs grew their international applications as compared to 26 % of non-STEM programs.
Apart from the visa extension, the employment opportunities for STEM MBA graduates are on the rise. With data analytics and business skills becoming more intertwined, and the trend to use data to make business decisions, has resulted in organizations needing graduates with analytical and business skills.
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Will Stanford GSB soon join the ranks of U.S. Business Schools with STEM Certification?
The Stanford GSB Dean, Jonathan Levin, was among 50 deans who urged the administration to “reform the H-1B visa program and remove ‘per- country’ visa caps during October 2019.” He also expressed concerns over the fact that there are three million open STEM jobs in the country because “the U.S. is not having enough people with the skills to fill them.”
But these talks were in the year 2019, after which many business schools, even MIT Sloan MBA, declared all its graduate business programs as STEM. After this, Anupriya had a conversation with the GSB, trying to mobilize and educate MBA and MS cohort. She also states that “It has been four years since Wisconsin converted their business degree to STEM and Stanford, been the world changers should have led the charge.
In the op-ed, Anupriya also pointed out that the continued inaction of Stanford GSB towards STEM program has directly pushed its international cohort away since prospective employers hesitate to hire someone for 12 months who may or may not cross the H-1B hurdle. But with a three-year OPT, business school graduates have more career opportunities. Pushing for STEM classification would make it explicit that GSB is behind its international students and supports them.
Kristin Harlan, Stanford GSB director of strategic communications, responded by email that Anupriya’s op-ed comports with the views of the school’s leadership. She states, “They are aware of the op-ed written by a Stanford GSB student in Stanford Daily.” She also adds that “Stanford GSB supports all their international students and do understand the benefit of a STEM designation.”
At last, Harlan points out that:
Some changes will happen for the MBA degree but not yet for the MSx degree. However, for an MBA degree, there is no timeline set. Many business schools have gained STEM designation to remain competitive. Thus, if Stanford doesn’t make this move at least for the next cohort, if not the current one, they are going to see a major dip in applications.
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