Why STEM Majors Are the Best Majors for International Students
Traveling to the United States and living the American dream is the desire of many people across the world. But this dream doesn’t come true for everyone. One important aspect of the American dream is working hard. Another is getting a good education. For those who wish to make it to the United States, working hard towards a good education is key.
There are many types of degrees and fields of study in American universities. But one field has consistently proven to be in a league all on its own. The collective fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics — known as STEM — are currently in high demand. While the curriculum is more difficult, the opportunities after graduation are worth it.
For a foreign student, a STEM degree can go a long way.
STEM Job Opportunities
Each year, the world watches as new technologies and products emerge, each one more impressive than the last. The global economy is changing rapidly and businesses require talented scientists, engineers, and mathematicians to bring the next wave of the high-tech economy to the world.
Businesses are well aware of the hard work and intelligence required for a STEM degree and are willing to pay for this talent. A multitude of studies has shown that STEM degrees offer people higher starting salaries. These studies also show that those working in STEM see larger salary growth over the length of their careers compared to others.
The STEM field is highly competitive, so don’t expect an easy ride. However, the US government believes long-term occupational employment opportunities will grow over the next few years. A paper released by the Bureau of Labor Statistics estimates a 34 percent increase in professional, scientific and technical services employment through 2018.
This means more jobs and possibly even higher salaries. While it is difficult to predict the exact kinds of jobs that will be available in the future, the BLS believes the computer, mathematical, technical and healthcare based jobs will see strong growth over the next two years.
Why International Students Should Study STEM
The United States is considered the world leader in technology and science, a title that the country will likely retain for some time. International students who wish to maximize their educational and career opportunities would do well to study STEM in the United States.
The government recognizes the importance of attracting the world’s top talent. Over the past several years, officials have recognized that there is a shortage of STEM majors in the US. In order to help bridge this gap, the US is creating new programs to attract foreign talent. Under an F1 visa, recent graduates can apply for the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program and work for up to 12 months after graduation. But those will certain STEM degrees are allowed to extend the program for an additional 17 months, for a total of 29 months.
A STEM degree can give international students more time to secure permanent residence and employment in the United States.
The move by the government to prefer STEM degrees over others is part of a long-running trend. From Silicon Valley CEOs to government officials and even to presidential candidates, America’s leaders have all supported programs to attract foreign students studying STEM.
Even Hilary Clinton said during her bid for the presidency that green cards should be stapled to the diplomas of foreign students studying STEM. The rest of the government seems to agree. In October 2015 President Obama signed the STEM Education Bill into law. This law recognizes the STEM field at the federal level and makes the green card process easier for international students with STEM degrees.
Clearly, the United States government understands the importance of science, technology, engineering and mathematics degrees. International students looking to live and work in the US can use this to their advantage.