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GSB designates MBA, MSx, Ph.D. degrees as STEM

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The Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB) has joined a growing list of schools that give their full-time business degrees a STEM certification. Both degrees offered at the school, the two-year Master of Business Administration (MBA) and the one-year Master of Science in Management (MSx) — along with the Ph.D. program — will bear the designation. 

The STEM designation allows international students to receive two more years of optional practical training employment authorization time in addition to their original 12 months.

The effort for the new designation was led by students, faculty and staff at the GSB. Anupriya Dwivedi, M.S. ’20 and writer at The Daily, approached the University with the issue last year. She and other students met with Dean Jonathan Levin, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Paul Oyer and Associate Dean Margaret Hayes to discuss the benefits of the classification for the international student body. 

Dwivedi was inspired to fight for the change when MIT Sloan classified its business program as STEM in January 2020. The GSB is now among several other business schools making the change, including the Haas Business School at the University of California, Berkeley; Columbia Business School and New York University’s Stern Business School. Most recently, on April 23, Harvard Business School officially notified students that a STEM-certified concentration had been approved.

In February, Dwivedi penned an op-ed in The Daily urging the University to review the degrees against STEM classification guidelines, as well as a later piece in the Wall Street Journal.

In an email to students sent on April 30, Senior Associate Dean for Academic Affairs Brian Lowery announced that the University is currently working on the details of changing the degrees’ academic codes so that they are STEM-eligible for current and incoming international students on F-1 visas.

During the COVID-19 pandemic, as job markets tighten, the designation is more important than ever, students and administrators say.

“The change is helpful because the job market is more difficult than it was,” Oyer said. 

Erick Araujo, a current MSx student from Brazil, agrees that there is “not a better moment in time to make this decision.” Graduate students face uncertainties in the economy and the job search, and internationals only faced more challenges with immigration restrictions, Araujo said. 

Isabel Andrade, a first-year MBA-M.A. dual-degree student from Ecuador, found herself torn between two desires, placed at odds with each other because of the U.S. immigration system: her love for social impact through education and her desire to work and live in the U.S. The extension of the OPT authorization, she said, opens up the possibility for her to work in the area of her passion in the U.S. for more than one year.

 In the announcement email, Lowery thanked the GSB faculty, staff in the Career Management Center, MBA and MSx programs and admissions offices and university colleagues for their hard work, as well as students for their patience and student leaders for representing their classmates.

“It was a privilege starting and leading this conversation,” Dwivedi said. ““The journey has been incredible and the beautiful messages I received speaking about the impact this change has on students’ lives has been phenomenal and heartwarming.” 

“I am proud and grateful that the GSB delivered on its promises especially during these challenging times,” she added.

May 26, 12 p.m.: This article has been updated to include that Ph.D. degrees have also been given the STEM designation.

Contact Blen Kedir at blenk ‘at’ stanford.edu.

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