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What’s The Value Of A STEM-Designated MBA In The Modern Workplace?

Jobs in STEM are predicted to grow over the next decade, with employers increasingly emphasizing the importance of technical expertise. So, what’s the value of a STEM-designated MBA?


Thu Mar 28 2024

People cite a wide variety of reasons for enrolling in MBA programs. Embracing a new challenge, enhancing knowledge, and improving career prospects are just some of the key motivations for students currently navigating the business school journey. 

But tying all of this together are the knowledge and skills that MBAs develop during the various sessions that take place both inside and outside the classroom. 

It’s this combination that makes MBA students so desirable to employers—more than 90% of top global corporate recruiters said they had plans to hire from MBA cohorts in 2023. 

It’s also this combination that helps students grow both personally and professionally throughout their studies. Meaning, that by the time it comes to graduation, MBA students are ready to enter the corporate environment with the confidence to manage cross-functional teams and tackle cross-industry problems. 

But within an increasingly uncertain environment, more than ever employers are placing emphasis on skills-based hiring, looking for applicants who can show they’re ready to make an instant impact upon entering the workplace. 

Enrolling in an MBA program that emphasizes technical expertise, alongside broad management and business fundamentals, can therefore provide a strong platform for career success. 

The STEM-Designated MBA: An overview 

The MBA is a generalist degree, teaching across an array of core business areas including marketing, finance, human resources, accounting, and strategy. 

Those MBA programs that are awarded STEM-designation bolster their teaching with a focus on technical skills—STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. 

For example, the MBA program at American University’s Kogod School of Business emphasizes cutting-edge areas such as big data and business analytics within the curriculum. Students on the program learn how to master analytical tools and develop an understanding of how highly technical expertise can be used to inform business decisions. 

When Kensey Johnson enrolled in the Kogod Full-time MBA in 2020, she found the program’s unique focus on hard skills a particular draw when considering where to study. She says that she loved having professors with real-life, interesting data and analytics backgrounds, such as one who worked in central intelligence for the CIA.

Evidencing how well this technical skills-based education is regarded: the United States offers all international students who study a STEM-designated degree in the US the opportunity to apply for a 24-month extension to their Optional Practical Training period after graduation. 

This ensures that graduating international students can stay and work in the US for a possible three years, with the government valuing the boost that their knowledge of subjects such as data, technology, and analytics can bring to the workforce. 

How a STEM MBA can prepare you for the modern workplace 

Whether it’s economic challenges, geopolitical tensions, or rapidly occurring technological evolutions, today’s employers are increasingly having to navigate a wave of uncertainty. 

Recruiters are therefore keen to hire professionals who have skills that are relevant in the modern workplace. Technical expertise in areas such as big data, artificial intelligence, or data science can help new recruits hit the ground running from their first day. 

Moving forward, many of the skills that corporate recruiters identify as being the most important over the next five years are technical in nature, such as data analysis and interpretation, and technology, software, and programming. 

For Kensey, possessing an array of technical skills as well as a holistic understanding of business was a differentiator when it came to job hunting as she approached the end of her MBA in 2022. 

Shortly after graduating Valedictorian from her class, she joined Amazon in a marketing role, working on audience strategy across the company’s video and music streaming services. 

Today, almost two years into the role, she feels the STEM nature of her degree has been invaluable in her development within the company so far. Because of the data modelling and predictive analytics skills she gained with her STEM MBA from Kogod, Kensey says she can act as a liaison between the marketing and data science teams.

Your career prospects after a STEM MBA

Kensey, like many STEM graduates, has been able to make use of the demand that employers have for hard, technical skills. In the US, the number of STEM jobs are expected to rise by 15% between 2021 and 2031. 

At Kogod, the program’s STEM-designation prepares students to make the most of their opportunities after graduation—in total, 94% of graduates land jobs within six months. 

The school's location helps. Washington D.C. ranks among the top five US cities when it comes to growth of STEM jobs, meaning many of these grads land jobs in the local area, including in public sector roles with the like of the Treasury Department hiring from the cohort. 

Significant numbers of students also find opportunities further afield with recruiting companies across various industries. Recent employers include Raytheon, Deloitte Consulting, Booz Allen Hamilton, AstraZeneca, and Capital One. 

When it comes to the question of what value a STEM-designated MBA can provide in your career, it’s therefore clear that graduating from a STEM degree can improve your prospects. 

Though, of course, it’s important to remember that, with the addition of rigorously learned knowledge and skills to the already challenging MBA curriculum, unlocking these benefits will require hard work. 

Student Reviews

Kogod School of Business - American University




On Campus

Clean and well maintained campus

I am completely enamored with this school. The entire student body is driven, inclusive, and highly intelligent. The decision to attend American University is not made haphazardly. Its close proximity to Washington DC, making it one of the most strategically located schools after Georgetown, means it's just a short train ride away. The campus is well-maintained, with mostly attractive buildings, although there are a few that are less appealing. Additionally, there are numerous excellent food options available. The wide range of clubs and organizations to join is remarkable. It is undeniably a school filled with immense passion.




On Campus

City life

I’m having a wonderful time at American University. I love that I can get to a big city and still feel like a traditional campus. Sincerely, it is a school that may require some adjusting to, but in the end, it is a very good school with numerous opportunities for its students. The atmosphere in AU is so great that it pushes you in a positive way and offers every opportunity you could want.




On Campus

Amazing helpful professors

American College is an incredible school with astounding teachers. Best professors I could have asked for at an amazing school. My opinion is that American University's professors are its greatest asset. They are extremely intelligent and always eager to assist their students. They go above and beyond in their classes to make sure that their students do their best.




On Campus

AU Review

The workload is quite high and AU is definitely not an "easy" school. Students take their studies very seriously and can almost always find a group in the library, DAV, Starbucks or MGC. Courses can be quite ambitious if the right courses are offered and the admissions process can be confusing at times, but with the help of an advisor it is quite easy to navigate. The library can be crowded, and while it's not huge, there are plenty of other places to study on campus. The professors really want to help during office hours and interact with students. I've had good experiences with the professors and workload at AU, but it's an expensive city.




On Campus

Majoring in Political and International Relations

The instructors are unique and the classes can be boring at times. Check-in is stressful (but it is everywhere). The workload is what I expected. The most popular majors are international relations and political science




On Campus

I Love Being A Musical Theater Major

I love being a musical theater student, if you want to help behind the scenes, if you want to be an assistant director, if you want to be a director, if you want to write, you can do anything at this academy, very supportive, it's amazing, they are always there to help you. This is their working time. Even after the audition tells you what you did wrong, you can do better, or if you get picked, you know why they picked you, which is great




On Campus

AU's Business Model

Overall, there were a lot of good opportunities at UA, both in terms of course range and faculty. However, I had a few complete misfires. People who shouldn't have taught at all. Like all universities, AU's business model is to hire hands-on assistants so they don't have to pay them extra or perform well. They are signed and if that does not work, they are not hired any more. The problem with this is that you end up with people who are unqualified and bring their own agendas, biases that may or may not be based on research. Most of the professors were absolutely fantastic.




On Campus

AU - The Real Problem With Academics

Some teachers are amazing, some awful - typical of any school. But the real problem with AU is that many students don't care about academics as much as other things (eg, partying). The academics are really interrupted by the Greek life and the social life of the students. This makes it difficult for students interested in academics to get the most out of their school experience. Some students do not take classes seriously and do not respect teachers and other students. Courses and opportunities at UA are perfect for people who want to take advantage




On Campus

American University - The Best Place to Study

They know their stuff - I chose American University because the campus is beautiful and the biology program is relatively small. But after the first semester, I realized that all the professors, especially the people in the science department, are experts in their field. They are enthusiastic and helpful in lecturing; even the TAs who teach the labs are amazing and engaging.