STEM, as it pertains to education in the United States, is an acronym for Sciences, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics fields of study.

The basis for designating a course of study as a STEM program is the Classification of Instructional Programs (or CIP), used by the U.S. Department of Education.

Colleges, universities and other institutions of higher education in the United States uses the CIP to classify fields of study.  Data from these academic providers and other nations and the CIP are then collected and analyzed by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES), an agency of the U.S. Department of Education. Stem fields are then identified, classified and published.

Some people make it a point to pursue STEM careers not only because of their interest but also for job opportunities. 

In fact, the U.S. Department of Labor predicts that there will be an estimated 1.2 million job openings in STEM-related fields by 2018 although there have not been enough graduates to fill the roles.  This is the reason why it is being touted that having a STEM degree will give graduates more opportunities in the job market.

The projected need is also the reason for allowing some international students to remain in the United States longer for additional training.

Normally, international students are eligible for 12 months of Optional Practical Training (or OPT) after completing a certificate, Associate's degree, Bachelor's degree, Master's degree, and PHD program (in that successive order).

The OPT is not to be confused with Curricular Practical Training (or CPT) which is carried out while studying.  There are other options to work while studying in the United States as an international student.

With the projected need for additional professionals in STEM fields however, some international students graduating from certain programs may be allowed to extend their stay through the 24-month STEM OPT Extension.  This will now bring your entire post-graduation stay in the United States, to 36 months!

All fields of study in the four core STEM areas of engineering, biological sciences, mathematics and physical sciences are included in the STEM Designated Degree Program List.   Fields related to the STEM programs "including fields involving research, innovation or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences” are generally included as well.  

The Immigration and Customs Enforcement agency of the U.S. Department of Homeland Security will automatically include future additions to those fields of study on the STEM Designated Degree Program list.  Be sure to check though if your chosen academic institution is an SEVP-Certified School and is authorized to accept international students. 

The May 2016 Designated STEM Programs are the following*: 

CIP Code Two-Digit Series

2010 CIP Code

CIP Code Title

01

01.0308

Agroecology and Sustainable Agriculture

01

01.0901

Animal Sciences, General

01

01.0902

Agricultural Animal Breeding

01

01.0903

Animal Health

01

01.0904

Animal Nutrition

01

01.0905

Dairy Science

01

01.0906

Livestock Management

01

01.0907

Poultry Science

01

01.0999

Animal Sciences, Other

01

01.1001

Food Science

01

01.1002

Food Technology and Processing

01

01.1099

Food Science and Technology, Other

01

01.1101

Plant Sciences, General

01

01.1102

Agronomy and Crop Science

01

01.1103

Horticultural Science

01

01.1104

Agricultural and Horticultural Plant Breeding

01

01.1105

Plant Protection and Integrated Pest Management

01

01.1106

Range Science and Management

01

01.1199

Plant Sciences, Other

01

01.1201

Soil Science and Agronomy, General

01

01.1202

Soil Chemistry and Physics

01

01.1203

Soil Microbiology

01

01.1299

Soil Sciences, Other

03

03.0101

Natural Resources/Conservation, General

03

03.0103

Environmental Studies

03

03.0104

Environmental Science

03

03.0199

Natural Resources Conservation and Research, Other

03

03.0205

Water, Wetlands, and Marine Resources Management

03

03.0502

Forest Sciences and Biology

03

03.0508

Urban Forestry

03

03.0509

Wood Science and Wood Products/Pulp and Paper Technology

03

03.0601

Wildlife, Fish and Wildlands Science and Management

04

04.0902

Architectural and Building Sciences/Technology

09

09.0702

Digital Communication and Media/Multimedia

10

10.0304

Animation, Interactive Technology, Video Graphics and Special Effects

11

11.0101

Computer and Information Sciences, General

11

11.0102

Artificial Intelligence

11

11.0103

Information Technology

11

11.0104

Informatics

11

11.0199

Computer and Information Sciences, Other

11

11.0201

Computer Programming/Programmer, General

11

11.0202

Computer Programming, Specific Applications

11

11.0203

Computer Programming, Vendor/Product Certification

11

11.0299

Computer Programming, Other

11

11.0301

Data Processing and Data Processing Technology/Technician

11

11.0401

Information Science/Studies

11

11.0501

Computer Systems Analysis/Analyst

11

11.0701

Computer Science

11

11.0801

Web Page, Digital/Multimedia and Information Resources Design

11

11.0802

Data Modeling/Warehousing and Database Administration

11

11.0803

Computer Graphics

11

11.0804

Modeling, Virtual Environments and Simulation

11

11.0899

Computer Software and Media Applications, Other

11

11.0901

Computer Systems Networking and Telecommunications

11

11.1001

Network and System Administration/Administrator

11

11.1002

System, Networking, and LAN/WAN Management/Manager

11

11.1003

Computer and Information Systems Security/Information Assurance

11

11.1004

Web/Multimedia Management and Webmaster

11

11.1005

Information Technology Project Management

11

11.1006

Computer Support Specialist

11

11.1099

Computer/Information Technology Services Administration and Management, Other

13

13.0501

Educational/Instructional Technology

13

13.0601

Educational Evaluation and Research

13

13.0603

Educational Statistics and Research Methods

14

14.XXXX

Engineering

15

15.0000

Engineering Technology, General

15

15.0101

Architectural Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0201

Civil Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0303

Electrical, Electronic and Communications Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0304

Laser and Optical Technology/Technician

15

15.0305

Telecommunications Technology/Technician

15

15.0306

Integrated Circuit Design

15

15.0399

Electrical and Electronic Engineering Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.0401

Biomedical Technology/Technician

15

15.0403

Electromechanical Technology/Electromechanical Engineering Technology

15

15.0404

Instrumentation Technology/Technician

15

15.0405

Robotics Technology/Technician

15

15.0406

Automation Engineer Technology/Technician

15

15.0499

Electromechanical and Instrumentation and Maintenance Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.0501

Heating, Ventilation, Air Conditioning and Refrigeration Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0503

Energy Management and Systems Technology/Technician

15

15.0505

Solar Energy Technology/Technician

15

15.0506

Water Quality and Wastewater Treatment Management and Recycling Technology/Technician

15

15.0507

Environmental Engineering Technology/Environmental Technology

15

15.0508

Hazardous Materials Management and Waste Technology/Technician

15

15.0599

Environmental Control Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.0607

Plastics and Polymer Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0611

Metallurgical Technology/Technician

15

15.0612

Industrial Technology/Technician

15

15.0613

Manufacturing Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0614

Welding Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0615

Chemical Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0616

Semiconductor Manufacturing Technology

15

15.0699

Industrial Production Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.0701

Occupational Safety and Health Technology/Technician

15

15.0702

Quality Control Technology/Technician

15

15.0703

Industrial Safety Technology/Technician

15

15.0704

Hazardous Materials Information Systems Technology/Technician

15

15.0799

Quality Control and Safety Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.0801

Aeronautical/Aerospace Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0803

Automotive Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.0805

Mechanical Engineering/Mechanical Technology/Technician

15

15.0899

Mechanical Engineering Related Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.0901

Mining Technology/Technician

15

15.0903

Petroleum Technology/Technician

15

15.0999

Mining and Petroleum Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.1001

Construction Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.1102

Surveying Technology/Surveying

15

15.1103

Hydraulics and Fluid Power Technology/Technician

15

15.1199

Engineering-Related Technologies, Other

15

15.1203

Computer Hardware Technology/Technician

15

15.1201

Computer Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.1202

Computer Technology/Computer Systems Technology

15

15.1204

Computer Software Technology/Technician

15

15.1299

 Computer Engineering Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.1301

Drafting and Design Technology/Technician, General

15

15.1302

CAD/CADD Drafting and/or Design Technology/Technician

15

15.1303

Architectural Drafting and Architectural CAD/CADD

15

15.1304

Civil Drafting and Civil Engineering CAD/CADD

15

15.1305

Electrical/Electronics Drafting and Electrical/Electronics CAD/CADD

15

15.1306

Mechanical Drafting and Mechanical Drafting CAD/CADD

15

15.1399

Drafting/Design Engineering Technologies/Technicians, Other

15

15.1401

Nuclear Engineering Technology/Technician

15

15.1501

Engineering/Industrial Management

15

15.1502

Engineering Design

15

15.1503

Packaging Science

15

15.1599

Engineering-Related Fields, Other

15

15.1601

Nanotechnology

15

15.9999

Engineering Technologies and Engineering-Related Fields, Other

26

26.XXXX

Biological and Biomedical Sciences

27

27.XXXX

 Mathematics and Statistics

28

28.0501

Air Science/Airpower Studies

28

28.0502

Air and Space Operational Art and Science

28

28.0505

Naval Science and Operational Studies

29

29.0201

Intelligence, General

29

29.0202

Strategic Intelligence

29

29.0303

Engineering Acoustics

29

29.0304

Low-Observables and Stealth Technology

29

29.0305

Space Systems Operations

29

29.0306

Operational Oceanography

29

29.0307

Undersea Warfare

29

29.0399

Military Applied Sciences, Other

29

29.0401

Aerospace Ground Equipment Technology

29

29.0402

Air and Space Operations Technology

29

29.0403

Aircraft Armament Systems Technology

29

29.0404

Explosive Ordinance/Bomb Disposal

29

29.0405

Joint Command/Task Force (C3, C4I) Systems

29

29.0406

Military Information Systems Technology

29

29.0407

Missile and Space Systems Technology

29

29.0408

Munitions Systems/Ordinance Technology

29

29.0409

Radar Communications and Systems Technology

29

29.0499

Military Systems and Maintenance Technology, Other

29

29.9999

Military Technologies and Applied Sciences, Other

30

30.0101

Biological and Physical Sciences

30

30.0601

Systems Science and Theory

30

30.0801

Mathematics and Computer Science

30

30.1001

Biopsychology

30

30.1701

Behavioral Sciences

30

30.1801

Natural Sciences

30

30.1901

Nutrition Sciences

30

30.2501

Cognitive Science

30

30.2701

Human Biology

30

30.3001

Computational Science

30

30.3101

Human Computer Interaction

30

30.3201

Marine Sciences

30

30.3301

Sustainability Studies

40

40.XXXX

Physical Sciences

41

41.0000

Science Technologies/Technicians, General

41

41.0101

Biology Technician/Biotechnology Laboratory Technician

41

41.0204

Industrial Radiologic Technology/Technician

41

41.0205

Nuclear/Nuclear Power Technology/Technician

41

41.0299

Nuclear and Industrial Radiologic Technologies/Technicians, Other

41

41.0301

Chemical Technology/Technician

41

41.0303

Chemical Process Technology

41

41.0399

Physical Science Technologies/Technicians, Other

41

41.9999

Science Technologies/Technicians, Other

42

42.2701

Cognitive Psychology and Psycholinguistics

42

42.2702

Comparative Psychology

42

42.2703

Developmental and Child Psychology

42

42.2704

Experimental Psychology

42

42.2705

Personality Psychology

42

42.2706

Physiological Psychology/Psychobiology

42

42.2707

Social Psychology

42

42.2708

Psychometrics and Quantitative Psychology

42

42.2709

Psychopharmacology

42

42.2799

Research and Experimental Psychology, Other

43

43.0106

Forensic Science and Technology

43

43.0116

Cyber/Computer Forensics and Counterterrorism

45

45.0301

Archeology

45

45.0603

Econometrics and Quantitative Economics

45

45.0702

Geographic Information Science and Cartography

49

49.0101

Aeronautics/Aviation/Aerospace Science and Technology, General

51

51.1002

Cytotechnology/Cytotechnologist

51

51.1005

Clinical Laboratory Science/Medical Technology/Technologist

51

51.1401

Medical Scientist

51

51.2003

Pharmaceutics and Drug Design

51

51.2004

Medicinal and Pharmaceutical Chemistry

51

51.2005

Natural Products Chemistry and Pharmacognosy

51

51.2006

Clinical and Industrial Drug Development

51

51.2007

Pharmacoeconomics/Pharmaceutical Economics

51

51.2009

Industrial and Physical Pharmacy and Cosmetic Sciences

51

51.2010

Pharmaceutical Sciences

51

51.2202

Environmental Health

51

51.2205

Health/Medical Physics

51

51.2502

Veterinary Anatomy

51

51.2503

Veterinary Physiology

51

51.2504

Veterinary Microbiology and Immunobiology

51

51.2505

Veterinary Pathology and Pathobiology

51

51.2506

Veterinary Toxicology and Pharmacology

51

51.2510

Veterinary Preventive Medicine, Epidemiology, and Public Health

51

51.2511

Veterinary Infectious Diseases

51

51.2706

Medical Informatics

52

52.1301

Management Science

52

52.1302

Business Statistics

52

52.1304

Actuarial Science

52

52.1399

Management Science and Quantitative Methods, Other

* Source: STEM Designated Degree Program List Effective May 10, 2016. 1st ed. 2016. Web. 18 Feb. 2017.

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About the Author

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer Aranda

Jennifer S. Aranda is the COO of IVC Immigrant Visa Center, Inc.


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