The fields of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics – commonly grouped as STEM – are popular choices among university students. If you already have a STEM degree, you know that these are some of the most challenging, yet rewarding study and career paths out there. So what comes next?
It can take you a while to decide what to do after an arduous Bachelor’s programme in STEM. Are you prepared enough to dive straight into the job market? Is there room to learn more and which direction should you take for your Masters degree?
As with every decision in life, take some time to look over the pros and cons of each option. You already have a solid base with STEM to rely on for your future – from here on, you can build on top of it.
Learn the pillars of business and management
Do not be afraid to switch gears and choose a Masters programme in an entirely different field. Enriching your background in STEM with some foundational business and leadership skills is one of the smartest paths you can take. Students from around the world choose to build on their scientific expertise with business or management education because of the unique opportunities available to such professionals.
“Senior engineers and division and department heads all use more business skills in day-to-day work than engineering skills,” Boise State University Graduate Kyle Rosenmeyer highlights for Harvard Business School’s blog. “My STEM education gave me a way to solve problems and think logically, but I needed to understand accounting tools, financial reports, and markets to compete.”
But is it difficult to get into the business and management field? Masters programmes love to welcome diverse students who come from different backgrounds. Your education in STEM will most likely be a major magnet for business schools who receive and review your application. In fact, many programmes (such as the iMIBDT – Master in International Business and Digital Transformation at Politecnico di Milano, Italy) specifically point out that they are looking for applicants with a background in STEM.
Switch gears with a STEM-designated degree
If you prefer a Masters programme that is still officially recognised as STEM, fear not – universities in the US have what you are looking for.
The STEM designation essentially means that the programme is formally recognised by the US government for its focus on science, technology, engineering, and math. More importantly, this goes hand in hand with some irresistible benefits for international students. In the US, STEM students are allowed to extend their Optional Practical Training (OPT) visas for up to 24 months, instead of only 12. OPT is also one of the ways to earn a work visa or even possible US citizenship.
The pool of STEM-designated programmes is constantly growing. For example, some Masters degrees in Finance or Business Analytics are not only top-ranked and accredited, but also boast the prestigious STEM designation.
Cited by Bloomberg, editor Amy Meadows says that STEM professionals have become an integral part of the workforce in Finance. They can get involved in diverse functions, from developing software and applications to providing data analytics. “In fact, many finance companies no longer even consider themselves to be finance companies – they have become tech companies that provide financial services,” Ms Meadows adds.
Find another unique study mix
If fields like business and finance are not your thing, you could go in a much more interdisciplinary direction. Expertise in STEM can be very beneficial in a variety of sectors. Take landscape architecture as an example. Landscape architects need to have a good grasp of art and design, but also a solid scientific, engineering, or research background. Sometimes art and science go perfectly well together!
Nutrition and food science is another interesting example of a more unconventional, yet quite popular field of study where your background in STEM can come in handy. This programme prepares students for careers in food quality and safety assurance, and is heavily dependent on scientific knowledge and methods. And the professional outlook is optimistic. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics projects that employment of agricultural and food scientists in the US will be 9% higher in 2030 than it was in 2020.
Whether you want to continue your studies in STEM or prefer to branch out, you can be sure that this background will make you a magnet to any Masters programme. The only question now is – where do you want your education to take you?