A US degree in a STEM field is promising!
The STEM is an acronym, which is used for four major fields of study, namely, Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics. Though STEM is a well-known issue and a term used commonly in the West, the United States has been making the most aggressive efforts to promote education in these fields.
The National Science Foundation – a leading grants agency in the US – has a broader definition of STEM and includes a range of fields Chemistry, Computer and Information Technology Science, Engineering, Geosciences, Life Sciences, Mathematical Sciences, Physics and Astronomy, Social Sciences (Anthropology, Economics, Psychology and Sociology), and STEM Education and Learning Research.
Why is STEM education important?
Some figures from across the globe must sensitize us as to the importance of STEM fields:
- Over the next ten years, at least seven of the 10 projected fastest-growing occupations are in STEM fields.
- STEM occupations have grown 8% in the last 10 years and are expected to grow twice as fast (17%) in the next ten years.
- 16 of the 25 highest-paying jobs in 2010 require STEM preparation and STEM workers earn 26% more than their non-STEM peers.
Why is the US so serious about STEM?
- According to a Forbes report, while USA may have been producing STEM majors for every job, the demand for STEM competencies “far exceeds the proportion of strictly defined STEM jobs that exist.”
- More than 40 percent of the 25,000 STEM Ph.D.’s awarded in 2011 went to nonresident students.
- As much as 60% foreign students with Ph.D. in engineering stay permanently in the US.
- Across the board, the number of foreign-born students getting tech-oriented degrees is staggering: One out of every five engineering graduates from American universities is foreign born. At the master’s degree level, the ratio is closer to one out of every two. And 56 percent of doctoral grads in engineering were from abroad in 2011.
How can Indians gain from STEM?
- The biggest advantage that any foreign student gets from pursuing a course in a STEM field is that he/she gets a 12-17 month long Optional Practical Training (OPT) as internship. As a result, an Indian student starts earning within a year of his US education and can either save money or begin to pay off his loan.
- Indians have a fair and greater chance of landing jobs in STEM fields in the USA since the country always has a dearth of STEM graduates as compared to the demand.
- Indian/foreign students pursuing degrees in STEM fields have increased chances of research grants by National Science Foundation. Eligibility for scholarship programs such as the CSM STEM Scholars Program use the NSF definition. For instance, an associate professor at UtahState University KoushikChakraborty, recently received $370,000 NSF grant for Employing Design Automation to Build Foundations for Holistic Multicore Design. This is part of Computer and IT – part of the NSF STEM fields.
- In May 2013, a landmark Immigration Reform Bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate that will both increase the number of available H-1B visas for foreigners working in specialty occupations and shift the US employment-based visa system to a more merit-based scheme favoring STEM workers.
STEM fields are here to stay and anyone graduating in any of them may be investing in a brighter future.