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5 Reasons Why You Should Do A STEM-Designated MBA

Pursuing a STEM-designated MBA will give you the business skills you need for the future and could help you extend your stay in the US


Fri Sep 20 2019

Business schools are quickly recognizing the importance of teaching more technical, digital skills alongside traditional core courses in leadership and management. 

The demand is clear—programs with a data analytics specialization, for example, are the fastest growing, with a 33% increase in volume between 2017 and 2018. 

Now, some US schools are starting to offer STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics) tracks on MBA programs.

Pursing an MBA program with STEM designation is a chance to gain expertise in the more technical areas of business and, if you’re an international student, it could help you extend your stay in the US.

Here’s five reasons why you should do a STEM-designated MBA:

1. You’ll be at the forefront of tech innovation

Everywhere you look, businesses are incorporating tech into their operations. 

In finance, we’ve seen the quick emergence of online banking and fintech. In marketing, artificial intelligence technology has become a tool for customer interaction. 

The STEM Designated MBA (MSTeM) at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business in Durham, North Carolina, offers students an insight into these innovations.

“Our biggest goal is to give students the opportunity to not only go in-depth on leveraging data, but to be able to apply that across disciplines,” explains Russ Morgan, the senior associate dean of full-time programs at Fuqua. 

Popular among these are classes in data analytics, exposing students to big data and its many applications across business, as well as classes in fintech, blockchain, and cryptocurrency.  

2.  Your STEM skills will be in high demand

While America’s job market is competitive—particularly for internationals—for those with the right skills, the odds may be in your favor.

An increasing STEM skills shortage in the US is estimated to leave two million jobs empty by 2025. 

This comes down to lack of qualification and expertise in high-skilled STEM fields, as well as the decision of many STEM graduates from countries like India and China to work domestically rather than relocate. 

This is where those with the MSTeM will have a significant advantage in the job market.

“We hope to create a workforce that has the necessary STEM skills to continue innovation in business and meet the needs of the market,” Russ stresses. 

Given that STEM graduates are expected to be the highest paid in 2019, it’s a very enticing prospect. 


3. Top tech firms will want to hire you

Move aside consulting firms and investment banks—tech companies are fast becoming some of the biggest employers of MBA graduates. 

Google and Amazon respectively saw a 75% and 67% increase in their MBA hires last year, while overall, 89% of tech companies planned to hire MBA graduates in 2018, according to the GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey. 

“A few years ago, consulting was the clearly dominant industry for our graduates,” Russ illustrates. “But with the rise of the technology industry and the addition of this curriculum offering, we are seeing technology related-careers as being on par for our graduates.”

For MSTeM students, mastering core skills like data analytics and digitalization are stepping stones into prime employment at Silicon Valley’s giants. Fuqua is already seeing the results of this, with 30% of MBA students finding employment in tech-related jobs. 

“Our students stand out because they can translate big data, and leverage their skills and knowledge, to adapt to what is happening in the tech-business world,” Russ explains.

“They have the right mix of skills that help them to get the most out of an entire organization in a way that brings these technologies to life.”

4. You’ll become a better leader

As with any top MBA program—it will help you nail down great leadership.

But crucially, MSTeM graduates will boast these high-in-demand tech skills alongside the ability to lead a team. 

“We’re trying to mix the balance of quantitative and qualitative modules in the program, to make sure that we have leaders who are adept and practical,” says Russ.

Fuqua’s MSTeM emphasizes that while knowledge and understanding of tech is important, so is the ability to communicate and strategize it in order to benefit society.  

5. You could extend your stay in the US after graduation

If you land a place on a STEM-designation MBA, you could stay to work in the US for up to three years after graduation.

The STEM designation means a two-year extension on the initial one-year Optional Practice Training (OPT) period that international students are given to work in the US before applying for a visa.

This will also make you more attractive to US employers. “Employers can be comfortable that a new hire won’t necessarily have to leave after the twelve months of OPT,” Russ explains.

For students who aspire to work in a STEM-related job and stay in the US, a STEM-designation as well as recent changes to US immigration rules offer significant advantages to internationals with MBA degrees.

Student Reviews

Duke University Fuqua School of Business




On Campus

Supportive atmosphere

The professors at Duke university exhibit exceptional commitment to the success and well-being of their students by ensuring their academic growth and fostering a supportive social atmosphere. Moreover, the entire community is recognized for its amicability and inclusiveness.




On Campus


The people or the students are without a doubt Duke's greatest asset. While all students are driven to succeed, they are also enthusiastic about a variety of hobbies. You run across a huge lot of diversity. It is the ideal example of a school with well-rounded students and the ideal balance of campus life in a metropolis.




On Campus

Happy to school

All I could ever hope for is Duke University. That really epitomizes the "work hard, play hard" philosophy that elite colleges frequently pursue. Even though you'll have a lot of schooling to complete over the week, it's simple to keep focused because all of your friends are putting in similar amounts of effort. Many events taking place on and around campus on the weekends provide a great way to unwind. The combination of demanding academics and traditional college fun strikes the perfect balance.




On Campus

Good schooling

Living, eating, learning, and developing who you want to be as an adult are all fantastic at Duke. I participated in student athletics, and I couldn't have asked for a better interaction with the faculty and other students. I appreciate all of the help I get from the Duke community more than anything. Furthermore, the teachers take the time to get to know you, and the lectures are diverse and demanding (if you do the same). I'd give it a 10 out of 10.




On Campus

Beautiful School, Nice Classes

DU remains one the greatest and best universities that I have ever stepped in. The school is beautiful and neat. The classes are spacious and also very nice. I enjoyed attending my Lectures in those lecture halls. I also loved the Lecturers because of the good work they did. The university also has very good dorms that are given to students on first come first serve basis and they are affordable





Amazing experience

I received my B.S. in Biology and B.A. in Global Health with a minor in Chemistry from Duke University. I was able to grow as a student, scientist, and global health advocate with the help of my friends, professors, and other mentors I met along the way. A lot to learn if you look and ask, a great place to learn for those who want to learn.





whirlwind of growth and change

An amazing 2 years, with covid and everything else happening Duke has been a place of growth for me. The courses , classes were one of a kind, online and on campus. But the valuable lessons learned in the classes are irreplicable. The students are amazing here, so much diversity , I had no problem fitting in. The teachers are down right brilliant and so helpful. Don't be afraid to ask them anything. Graduated with my MBA with Duke and now my future awaits.




On Campus

One of the best for Business students

Graduated with an MBA. The classes were very insightful and engaging. The staff are very easy to deal with. The teachers and students, are truly amazing people. Grateful to all the people I've met along the way at Duke. I've learnt a great deal that will help me in my future endeavors. The campus itself is a marvel, it is beautiful.




On Campus

The university campus is awesome

I graduated with a masters degree in Religious Studies from Duke University. One thing I really liked about the university is its huge campus. It is spread in a large area with a lot of greenery and also have the facilities of reading rooms for single person also. My department building was very well taken care of. The library is immensely populated with books for all your needs. The faculty is very nice to students. The classes are equipped with latest technology to cater the needs of students. The University also provides room rentals for international students. They are very well maintained and priority is given to the International students for a comfortable stay there. There are weekly events conducted by the University as well as Student clubs for the entertainment of students. Anybody can take part in them and show their talents. I enjoyed my degree and I graduated in 2021 and was very happy that I had graduated from a reputed University.