Update! Most top bschools now have a STEM-qualified option!
American MBA applicants can skip today. This info is directed to internationals applying to business school, who are planning on staying in the U.S. post-graduation. You know, to work off some of those extensive student loans you’ll be incurring by going to a top-tier business school.
We’re not expert in the immigration and visa stuff, though we try to pass along info gathered from BSers who’ve gone before, like this series about bringing a non-married partner along for the bschool ride and what employment options there might be available. And this one about programs that don’t require a TOEFL to apply. (And oh hey: If you have application and admissions questions we can help with, you can hit us up in the comments and we’ll see what we can do!)
All international students automatically qualify for one year F-1 visa to stay in the U.S. to work when they graduate. For MBA grads, that’s typically been all that could be counted on as a default. To stay longer required the post-MBA employer to sponsor you for an H-1B work visa. In times of political (2016 and 2017) or economic (2008-2010; too lazy to seek out the posts about it but basically it was a dire situation for internationals trying to get jobs in the U.S.) uncertainty, many U.S. employers were unwilling to take on international hires, since they weren’t sure if they could count on the government to approve foreign worker applications. Because your first year in a new job is a lot of learning on your part, and not as much productivity to the employer, if the company didn’t have reasonable assurance that their sponsorship of your visa app would go on to be approved, they wouldn’t likely be interested in hiring you if it seemed that you might only be able to stay for one year before having to leave due to visa expiration. They want to get more of an ROI out of their investment in you as a worker.
However, because of the importance of science and tech workers to the U.S. economy, the government has a carve-out for so-called STEM degrees (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) that extends this F-1 visa for 24 more month. There’s a lot of hoops you have to jump through, but an international student coming to the U.S. to study a STEM discipline can potentially get a visa for a total of 3 years post-graduation, without having to be sponsored by the employer for the H-1B work visa. This is called the OPT extension, for Optional Practical Training, which means that you’re granted this additional time in the U.S. because you’re building further skills on the job. Because of this, your employer still needs to qualify based on the government’s rules, and they must be involved in your visa application, including creating a plan to support your further development. Many larger corporations are on board with this and have processes set up to manage it for these international hires.
Now, a bunch of bschools have wised up to this STEM OPT opportunity and they recognize what a boon it is for their international cohort, and have been scrambling to get either full business-focused master’s degree programs, or tracks or majors within their MBA, approved for the STEM designation.
The ones we’ve heard about recently include:
- Duke Fuqua has a STEM-qualified track, and they were the first we heard of to do this – smart people there at Duke!
- NYU Stern’s Tech MBA is STEM-qualified
- Northwestern Kellogg now has a STEM-qualified major, Management Science
- Chicago Booth also has a STEM-qualified major in Business Analytics
- Wharton has like five separate STEM-qualified majors for their MBA program! They range from ops to statistics to their energy/environment major, among others, with a brand-new one announced in Spring 2020 called Quantitative Finance
- Columbia Business School has non-MBA master of science degrees that are STEM-qualified, in disciplines such as financial economics, marketing science, and accounting,
but we’re not aware of any areas of concentration in the MBA that qualify for STEM OPTUPDATE! as of March 2020, Columbia’s standard full-time MBA and their EMBA are all STEM OPT qualified too!
- Carnegie Mellon MBA is STEM-qualified; if you graduate from Tepper, your degree has the designation automatically, no specific major or curriculum required
- In March 2020, Yale announced a new concentration in Management Science that is STEM
If you’re an American or permanent U.S. resident, it wouldn’t hurt for you to go for one of these STEM programs just for your own employability, given how critical tech is to everything now. Regardless of where you want to work post-MBA, having that on your resume and transcripts could be advantageous in a recruiting market later on.
Other bschools are joining this trend too. Did we miss any that you know of? Let us know in the comments and we’ll capture it here!
BTW, here’s the full ‘snarchive of posts tagged “international candidate.” You’re welcome.