What is a STEM Degree?

stem-degreeCollege and university degree programs in science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) are considered STEM degrees, and they are in high demand across many industries.

Several years ago, educators and industry analysts detected a trend that indicated an academic deficiency in STEM areas for students entering college. The same findings were true for those entering the workforce to look for STEM-related job opportunities. Upon further analysis, the problem was seen as so severe that it merited legal support. Innovation in science and technology was considered the primary key to a thriving American economy. As a result, the America COMPETES Act of 2007 was adopted to support special educational and workforce development initiatives promoting STEM subjects. Here are some examples of the top STEM degrees, opportunities for scholarships and other pre-college preparation activities.

Types of High Demand STEM Degrees

When examining the list of STEM degree majors, students find that all STEM degree programs are not created equally. All of them are no doubt challenging, but some offer more career opportunities than others. Based on job prospects, computing and engineering degree programs are in greatest demand. Specifically, computer networking and system analysis are the degree programs with the highest job prospects. Software engineering was also cited as having the greatest job prospects. Projections indicate that those who major in computer science, management information systems, and software engineering have the most career opportunities available to them through 2018. Other majors, like those in mathematics, physics, natural sciences and life sciences are still in demand, but people in these majors often end up working as academic researchers. While talented, these scientists and mathematicians face great competition for research jobs that are not in as great a supply as careers in the technology sector.


Scholarship Opportunities For STEM Degree Majors

Because STEM careers are considered the backbone of the American economy, there are many private and public scholarships available to those who show academic promise. There are some scholarships for which all STEM degree program participants can apply, but most STEM scholarships have very specific requirements pertaining to degree subject and other differentiating characteristics. Here are some examples of STEM scholarships.

Preparing Students For STEM Related College Majors

The activities that prepare students to enter university level STEM coursework begin early for successful candidates. Today’s high schools have curricula geared toward building skills in STEM. However, some serious students gain extra help from tutors as well as by participating in workshops during summer breaks. For example, University of Washington sponsors a high school summer program for those who are interested in health science professions.


Most STEM-related careers are in great supply and are supported by numerous private and public educational initiatives. However, the promotional projects and initiatives have only resulted in moderate success. According to news reports, students are drawn to exciting and lucrative STEM careers at first, but they often find the college coursework too difficult to complete. Despite extensive high school preparation in STEM courses, these students often choose to switch to liberal arts majors and not persevere through arduous STEM-related university laboratory and coursework. However, those who are adequately prepared and complete STEM degree programs have numerous career opportunities available to them at home and abroad.

Related: A Woman’s Guide to STEM Careers

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