Source: Financial Times
By Jonathan Moules,
Specialist study can lead to extra chances to work in America after graduation
A standard MBA from an American business school would not have been the right qualification to enable Harleen Kaur Bhomrah to achieve her dream of building a career in the US.
After graduation from Wisconsin School of Business, she was initially turned down for the role she really wanted, as a project manager at Dell EMC, a data storage company.
However, the recruitment head changed his mind when
“That ultimately tipped the scale in my
“Stem designation” are buzzwords in educational circles because of the belief that such skills better prepare workers for an age of
And in the US, Stem has an additional benefit in terms of the doors it opens for work visas. This is important for American business schools, which are battling to reverse a drop in foreign applicants, due in part to the perception that the US has become less welcoming to migrants.
When MBA course directors can prove that more than half their course material is based in science, technology, engineering and mathematics, they can gain Stem-designated status.
Non-US students graduating from these courses can then apply for a
Wisconsin became the first US business school to offer an MBA with Stem designation in 2016 and it has had a positive effect on demand. Applications to the school’s various MBA programmes fell 13
“It can help make the difference,” says Enno Siemsen, Wisconsin’s associate dean for MBA programmes.
Last year, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business launched an MBA certificate in management science and technology, which is Stem designated.
A quarter of the school’s MBA class has enrolled on the optional course, some of whom may have been attracted by the potential visa benefits, according to Russ Morgan, senior associate dean for full-time degree programmes at Fuqua.
However, he stresses that the school’s main reason for adding the course was the demand for data science training by both domestic and international students. “Almost every part of
The University of Rochester’s Simon Business School in New York has gone further than either Wisconsin or Fuqua and this year gained approval for all of its full-time MBA programmes to be Stem designated.
The move was easier for Simon than its rivals. Since 1968, a majority of its classes have been in “quant” subjects, which rely heavily on mathematics, notes Andrew Ainslie, the school’s dean. “It took us a long time to
The main aim of Stem designation at Simon is to benefit from the visa extension,
Simon is also taking advantage of the popularity of science and technology subjects, particularly data analysis, among MBA applicants generally.
“Stem is a quick way to communicate that we understand these topics,”
Even with Stem designation, overseas students can only benefit from the visa extension if they are hired into a STEM-designated role. This means that Simon still has to be more discerning about which overseas students it accepts, only taking those with a good chance of working in the US afterwards, according to Mr Ainslie.
“We have a duty to only allow applicants in with a fair chance of getting a job after graduation,” he says. “We are pickier with that group because we know employers will be pickier with that group.”
Stem might be a new concept to American business schools, but it is well understood by many overseas students applying to study in the US. However, that does not mean these overseas students
Almost all the 1,600 overseas applicants who have used the services of Stacy Blackman Consulting — a business school admissions agency — in 2018 have already studied Stem subjects at undergraduate degree level, says
But she says that almost all her clients were looking to move away from Stem subjects in their graduate studies since their motivation for doing an MBA is to give them a broader education in business rather than technical skills,
She says there is some confusion among employers about how Stem designation affects their ability to hire overseas students.
The consultancy’s experience is that Stem designation is unlikely to change the
Chioma Isiadinso, co-founder and chief executive of the admissions agency Expartus, finds that many prospective MBA students coming to the US from overseas express an interest in courses that include an element of technology teaching on the curriculum, particularly data analytics. However, she has not yet had any clients who state they are only looking for programmes with strong Stem content because of the visa benefits.
“Stem is a factor,” Ms Isiadinso says. “But our clients are still more focused on targeting schools that are top-ranked and have exceptional career statistics for the areas they wish to pursue.”