STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) fields are popular among international students in the United States. STEM-certified programmes in the United States are becoming increasingly popular among international students, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s (GMAC) “Prospective Students Survey.”
Between 2019 and 2021, the preference for STEM-certified programmes increased from 39% to 49%. The increases are comparable between candidates who prefer business master’s programme types (51 percent vs. 60 percent) and MBA programme types (33 percent vs. 45 percent), as well as between undergraduate STEM majors (45 percent vs. 56 percent) and nonSTEM majors (36 percent vs. 46 percent), according to the report.
The survey results are based on 6,594 responses from people in 156 countries who expressed an interest in graduate business education in 2021. According to the findings, candidates from India had the highest preference for STEM-certified programmes, accounting for 62 percent of those polled. Men were significantly more interested in STEM fields than women, with 63 percent interested in STEM fields and 65 percent interested in undergrad STEM majors. So, what is it that is attracting more international students to STEM fields?
There are several reasons for this, but one of them is the possibility of earning more money. According to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics, demand for STEM jobs is expected to grow by 10.5 percent between 2020 and 2030, faster than the 7.7 percent average for all occupations. To put this in context, the median annual wage for workers in STEM fields is expected to be 95,420 US dollars in 2021, which is more than double the current median annual wage earned by workers in non-STEM fields at US$40,120. Students who invest in a STEM-certified programme reap numerous benefits.
For example, international students on an F-1 visa can work in the United States for 12 months without being sponsored by an employer under OPT, but STEM graduates can apply for a 24-month extension to their OPT, bringing the total to 36 months or three years. This is a big draw for international students because it relieves the pressure of having to find a job right after graduation and has been shown to act as a bridge for international students to stay in the US long term. STEM graduates, for example, frequently stay in the United States after graduation, with some even going so far as to obtain a green card.
The H-1B visa is a highly sought-after work visa for many international graduates in the United States. It enables employers or businesses in the United States to hire international graduates with a specific specialty (or its equivalent) to work in the country. It has previously been reported that Intel, Amazon, Google, and Microsoft are among the companies that consistently sponsor the visa. International graduates are important in filling the talent gap.
While there is a growing interest in STEM fields among international MBA graduates, GMAC’s report shows that many candidates still prefer the traditional full-time MBA programme. A preference for a hybrid model of learning was also on the rise, especially among those who preferred executive, part-time, and flexible MBA programmes.
In 2021, 44 percent of poll respondents preferred hybrid mode learning delivery. In terms of preferred study destinations among international MBA graduates, the United States attracted many international student enrolments due to its academic reputation, whereas Western European universities attracted students due to their cost and programme offerings.
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