What Is A STEM Degree?

Are you considering pursuing a STEM degree as part of your graduate studies? The practical and often lucrative nature of obtaining Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) degrees make them a great option for those looking to boost their technical prowess with real-world applications in these fields. However, the breadth of disciplines and the sheer spectrum of opportunities can also make entering the STEM field a daunting prospect.

Whether you’re exploring STEM for the first time or already well on your way to obtaining your degree, this guide is designed to help you better understand, prepare for, and thrive within the realm of STEM degrees.

STEM Degrees: The Basics

First things first, what exactly is a STEM degree? STEM is an acronym that stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It refers to any academic or professional program that has a primary focus on one or more of these areas. The common thread among these diverse fields is an emphasis on problem-solving, logical thinking, and analytical skills, which are all highly sought-after skills in today’s marketplace.

In fact, occupations in STEM fields are projected to grow by 8 percent by 2029, compared with 3.7 percent for all occupations, according to the US Bureau of Labor Statistics.

“The demand for graduates in the STEM disciplines will continue to grow as society advances in the use of technology and data across all fields,” said Jeff Camm, Senior Associate Dean for Faculty and the Inmar Presidential Chair of Analytics at the Wake Forest University School of Business.

Benefits of a STEM Program

One major advantage that STEM programs provide is to international students interested in remaining in the U.S. after graduation. STEM and OPT certifications can allow students to work for three years in the U.S. while working with companies to obtain a work visa, enabling students to gain practical experience through internships or employment after completing their studies.

Optional Practical Training (OPT) is a period during which undergraduate and graduate students with F-1 Visa status who have completed or have been pursuing their degrees for more than nine months are permitted to work for one year in the U.S. on a student visa with the goal of gaining practical training to complement their education. STEM Certification allows a 24-month extension of the post-completion OPT, providing enhanced employment opportunities for international students.

Types of STEM Degrees

STEM degrees span an impressive array of fields and specializations. Below, find a comprehensive breakdown of the types of degrees available within each discipline:


A science degree could mean a focus on biological, physical, or environmental sciences, among others. Common degree types include:

  • Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Physics
  • Environmental Science
  • Neuroscience
  • Biochemistry

These degrees cover various disciplines within the broad field of science and are commonly pursued by students interested in scientific research, laboratory work, or related careers.


Degrees in technology often emphasize computer science and information technology but can also include fields like nanotechnology and biotechnology. Technology-based degrees include:

  • Computer Science
  • Information Technology
  • Software Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering with a focus on Information Technology
  • Cybersecurity
  • Data Science
  • Information Systems

These degrees cover a wide range of technological disciplines and are commonly pursued by students interested in careers in software development, IT infrastructure, cybersecurity, data analysis, and related fields.


Engineering is the application of scientific principles to design and build machines, structures, and other items. Attainable degrees in engineering include:

  • Mechanical Engineering
  • Electrical Engineering
  • Civil Engineering
  • Chemical Engineering
  • Computer Engineering
  • Aerospace Engineering
  • Industrial Engineering
  • Environmental Engineering
  • Biomedical Engineering

These degrees cover various disciplines within the broad field of engineering and are commonly pursued by students interested in designing, developing, and improving technology, infrastructure, and systems in various industries.


Mathematics is fundamental to all areas of science and engineering. Degrees in mathematics can include:

  • Mathematics
  • Statistics
  • Actuarial Science
  • Financial Mathematics
  • Computational Mathematics
  • Mathematical Physics
  • Operations Research

These degrees cover various disciplines within the field of mathematics and are commonly pursued by students interested in mathematical theory, applied mathematics, statistics, and related fields.

STEM Career Opportunities

Once you’ve earned your STEM degree, a world of career opportunities will be at your feet. STEM fields are growing fast, so your job prospects will be excellent. Some common career paths for STEM graduates include:

  • STEM Specialist – STEM specialists work within their specific field of study, applying their expertise to real-world challenges. This can mean working as a mathematician, natural scientist, computer systems analyst, or any number of specialized roles.
  • Educator – STEM education is crucial for the next generation. Graduates often find fulfilling careers as educators, teaching the skills and knowledge they’ve spent years acquiring.
  • Researcher – For those who love to push the boundaries of what’s known, a career in research is a fantastic opportunity. Research careers are available in every STEM field from academia to private industry.
  • Entrepreneur – A STEM degree can be the perfect foundation for starting your own business. Whether you’re developing new technology, creating a product, or providing a service, your STEM skills can help you succeed as an entrepreneur.
  • Consultant – Many companies need expert advice in solving complex technical problems. STEM graduates can work as consultants and use their deep knowledge to help clients overcome challenges.

Choosing the Right STEM Program

Selecting the right STEM program for you is a critical step in your academic and professional development. Here’s how to make an informed decision:

  • Research Programs – Spend time researching different STEM programs to find one that matches your interests and career goals. Look at course offerings, faculty, research opportunities, and any other factors that are important to you.
  • Consider Specializations – Many STEM programs offer specializations within the broader discipline. If you already have a specific area of interest, look for programs that offer specialized tracks or concentrations in that area.
  • Look at the Curriculum – The curriculum of a STEM program will give you insight into what you can expect to learn. It should align with your interests and career goals and provide you with the skills and knowledge you need.
  • Assess Research Opportunities – STEM programs often provide students with opportunities to conduct research. If this is important to you, look for programs that have strong research components and that provide resources to support student research.

Start your STEM Journey at Wake Forest University

By pursuing a business degree within the contours of STEM, students are able to merge empirical inquiry with strategic insight, a formidable combination in the marketplace that offers a dynamic template for driving value, leading innovation, and carving out a distinctive niche in the competitive world of business. From world-class faculty and research to nationally-ranked STEM certified programs, discover how the Wake Forest University School of Business equips students with the tools to succeed in every field.