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Students in STEM fields study science, technology, engineering and mathematics.

What Does STEM Stand for?

September 30, 2011

Please note: On May 10, 2016, DHS replaced the 17-month STEM OPT extension with a new 24-month STEM OPT extension. All existing 17-month STEM OPT EADs will remain valid until the EAD expires, is terminated or revoked. For more information about the new STEM OPT rule, please visit the STEM OPT Hub

You may have heard of the importance of “STEM education” and “STEM jobs.” It seems like everyone is talking about it, from President Obama to officials at your university. So what exactly does the acronym STEM stand for?

STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math. Discussion of STEM-related programs has become a presidential priority because too few college students are pursuing degrees in these fields. The U.S. Department of Labor expects that there will be 1.2 million job openings in STEM related fields by 2018, but there won’t be enough qualified graduates to fill them.

Many people would agree that STEM is the key to innovation and job creation in the United States. President Obama continually references the importance of STEM education in making the United States more competitive in the global economy.

Getting U.S. students interested in studying STEM-related fields is only part of the picture. Educating the best and brightest international students in STEM fields is also a major priority for the United States. In a May 2010 speech in El Paso, Texas, President Obama pointed out that immigrants founded some of the great American companies like Intel, Google, Yahoo and eBay  and helped the United States to become a leader in the high-tech industry.

In that same speech, Obama said the following about international students and their importance to the United States:

We should make it easier for the best and the brightest to not only stay here, but also to start businesses and create jobs here. In recent years, a full 25 percent of high-tech startups in the U.S. were founded by immigrants. That led to 200,000 jobs here in America. I’m glad those jobs are here. I want to see more of them created in this country. We need to provide them the chance.

Are you interested in the chance to study in a STEM field? This infographic provides some useful information about STEM careers from a recent Harris Interactive study. The U.S. Department of Labor’s O*Net is another great place to learn about the possible fields you can go into by studying in a STEM major, such as computer science, engineering, or physics.

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