Why are STEM subjects set apart from the rest in the US? 

Updated on: Jul 29, 2023

In the US, STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) subjects are often set apart from other subjects because they are seen as critical for the country's economic growth and competitiveness in the global marketplace.

STEM subjects are viewed as essential for innovation and technological advancement, which are seen as key drivers of economic growth. As a result, there is a strong focus on promoting STEM education and careers, and many initiatives and programs are designed to encourage students to pursue STEM fields.

The major factor is that there’s a benefit known as Optional Practical Training (OPT) that allows international students who have completed a STEM degree in the US to work in the country for up to 3 years without needing an H-1B visa.

Under the OPT program, eligible students can apply for a work permit that allows them to work in their field of study for up to 12 months after completing their degree. Students who have completed a STEM degree may be eligible for an additional 24 months of OPT, for a total of 36 months.

This is seen as a benefit because it allows international students to gain valuable work experience in their field of study, which can be beneficial for their future careers. It is important to note that OPT is a temporary work authorisation and does not lead to permanent residency or citizenship. However, it can be a valuable opportunity for international students to gain work experience in the US and potentially transition to other visa categories in the future.