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Degrees in STEM subjects are in high demand

Overall, the demand for employees educated in STEM fields continues to be high — not just in the U.S., but worldwide. To help meet the demand for STEM-qualified employees, the U.S. government has developed criteria for “STEM-designated” programs. Clark University offers graduate programs that have earned STEM (science, technology, engineering, and mathematics) designations from the federal government.

Since 2000, STEM jobs in the U.S. have increased by 28 percent, compared with a 6 percent overall increase in the workforce — nearly five times as fast as all jobs combined, according to the U.S. News/Raytheon STEM Index. While salary and demand vary based on the occupation, employees in STEM fields typically earn more and advance faster in their careers than non-STEM employees.

International students can stay in the U.S. longer

International students who earn a degree from a STEM-designated program can usually work in the United States for up to three years after graduation.

Students who graduate with a STEM degree today may be eligible to work in the U.S. for up to 36 months on Optional Practical Training (OPT). All students can apply for 12 months of post-completion OPT. Students in designated STEM degree programs may be able to extend their OPT for an additional 24 months, provided that they have maintained their status while on OPT and that their employment meets certain criteria established by the Department of Homeland Security.

Having an additional 24 months of OPT gives students more flexibility as they seek an ideal position and employer. Students have few employment restrictions while on OPT, and can change jobs or work multiple jobs. This may increase the likelihood that they will find an employer willing to sponsor them on an employment-based visa (H-1B). The additional time on OPT potentially gives a student’s employer multiple chances to submit an H-1B petition if the application is not selected for the lottery on the first submission.

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