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Learn what STEM stands for.

What is STEM?

June 12, 2013

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

When researching programs of study in the United States, you will likely see opportunities referred to as STEM programs. STEM is an acronym for the fields of science, technology, engineering and math.

Why is STEM important?

STEM programs are an important priority to the United States because they contribute to job creation and innovation for the country. Graduates of STEM programs play a role in making the United States more competitive in the global economy.

How can I participate in a STEM program?

There are many Student and Exchange Visitor Program-certified schools that offer undergraduate and graduate opportunities to study in STEM programs. Community colleges also have a variety of STEM programs in which a student may enroll. In 2012, the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) expanded the list of the STEM programs that qualify graduates for extended employment opportunities in the United States, allowing access to more students to participate.

An F student who receives a degree in a DHS-approved STEM program of study is eligible for 12 months of post-completion optional practical training (OPT). That student also may apply for a 17-month OPT extension.

The combined total of 29 months of practical training with an employer that is a global leader in one of these critical industries is an invaluable opportunity to launch the student’s career and develop a network of key contacts in the student’s chosen field to last a lifetime.

For more information on STEM program opportunities in the United States, visit EducationUSA or speak with someone at an EducationUSA advising center.

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