Arizona State University’s W.P. Carey School of Business announced its Master of Science in Finance (MS-FIN) program has been deemed a STEM-eligible program by the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).
Receiving the certification gives MS-FIN international graduates – 49 percent of the class population – a STEM Optional Practical Training (OPT) Extension to join the U.S. job market for up to 36 months, instead of 12 months for non-STEM programs.
“This extends what used to be a very brief amount of time in the U.S. for optional practical training,” Steven Taylor, W.P. Carey’s associate dean of graduate programs, said. “Three years of work experience on a resume is much more meaningful than a single year and demonstrates the student has the ability to apply the knowledge they gained in the program… It gives them a chance to develop some skill…and become more employable once they go back to their home country.”
According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), the demand for STEM jobs is expected to increase by 13 percent by 2027.
Taylor said that in order to receive the certification W.P. Carey had to reevaluate their program’s structure and now the school will be reevaluating other programs that could possibly qualify.
“[MS-FIN] prepares you to understand how the theoretical elements of finance map onto the actual practice and that piece hasn’t been lost. What we’ve done is enhance the quantitative elements in the program and try to add some choice to what had been a lockstep curriculum,” he said. “We’ll probably go through and do a review of each of the programs to make sure we’re appropriately presenting the quantitative elements, but we also don’t want to try and force something into that STEM box that’s not, so, we’re going to try and proceed carefully.”
According to the BLS, STEM salaries are usually higher than the national average with the average STEM salary being $87,570 and non-STEM jobs earning $45,700.
While the STEM OPT extension program is designed for international students, it brings benefits to MS-FIN’s domestic students as well.
“We want people to be universal learners within context, right?” Taylor said. “So, if we put a very diverse classroom together with students from all over the globe then not only is that a form of public diplomacy for the U.S. [but] it brings an interesting perspective into the classroom for the domestic students.”
W.P. Carey also recently announced that the W.P. Carey Foundation has committed $15 million towards supporting career services for students and alumni.
“We look at this investment as something that will benefit us not only in 2019 and 2020 but also serve as the launchpad for thousands of careers in the future,” said Amy Hillman, dean of the W. P. Carey School, of the $15 million gift. “This sort of generosity can help shift the competitive balance for employers that hire our graduates while rewriting the story of hundreds of hard-working families each year.”
The STEM certification is just one example of a program that supports the careers of W.P. Carey’s students.
“This is a change that needed to be made, not only for international students but for the core of what a finance program is supposed to do. I don’t want to just graduate a student and have them go out and work on derivatives or have them go out to work as a trainer. I want people who can have multiple options and understand the global pieces, so I think it helps us do that,” Taylor said.
For more information on the STEM OPT Extension Program, click here. For more information on the MS-FIN degree, click here.