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How Does DHS Determine Which Degrees Qualify for the STEM OPT Extension?

May 12, 2016

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) compiles the STEM Designated Degree Program List based on the U.S. Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) definition of a “science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) field.”

DHS uses this list to determine which degrees qualify for the STEM optional practical training (OPT) extension and updates its list periodically on the Federal Register.

DHS bases its STEM Designated Degree Program List on the NCES definition because the definition uses the Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) terminology that is widely used and recognized by U.S. institutions of higher education.

If you would like to request an addition to the STEM Designated Degree Program List:

For more information about CIP codes and how certain degrees may qualify for the STEM OPT extension, visit the Eligible CIP Codes for the STEM OPT Extension page. You can also download a copy of the STEM Designated Degree Program List on

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