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USC Marshall Launches STEM Certification For MBAs

USC Marshall adds STEM certification to its MBA program, with a focus in management science

The University of Southern California Marshall School of Business has joined a growing list of B-schools in adding a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math) certification to its full-time MBA program. Announced yesterday (May 1), the new STEM certification in management science will officially launch this fall and be available to the Classes of 2020 and 2021 and beyond.

USC joins the University of Rochester’s Simon Business School, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, and the University of Wisconsin School of Business in offering at least part or all of a STEM-certified full-time MBA. Rochester Simon’s MBA was named the program of the year by Poets&Quants in 2018 for getting its entire MBA experience STEM certified (see MBA Program Of The Year: Rochester’s New STEM Play).

“This new specialization is designed to combine data-driven decision-making and analytics with the overall MBA program learning objectives of developing a global and entrepreneurial mindset, building a deep understanding of business fundamentals, and leading high-performing teams,” Vice Dean for Graduate Programs Suh-Pyng Ku said in a statement from the school. “The specialization in STEM certified Management Science will require the students to enroll in STEM qualified courses for about half of their electives program.”


Marshall’s certification will be similar to those offered at Duke and Wisconsin, where a set of electives will be required to gain a STEM-certified degree (see Duke Hikes Appeal Of Its MBA To Internationals). By contrast, Rochester’s Simon School has a fully dedicated STEM-certified MBA program, meaning full-time MBA students may gain STEM certification regardless of specialization.

Marshall’s program will include a suite of elective courses to fulfill the management science requirement established by the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES). The NCES defines the STEM-certified management science as “a general program that focuses on the application of statistical modeling, data warehousing, data mining, programming, forecasting, and operations research techniques to the analysis of problems of business organization and performance.”

There are two main benefits to adding a STEM portion to an MBA program: increasing competitiveness in the marketplace and a way around the H1b visas. According to the NCES, those earning an advanced degree or certification in a STEM field will earn higher salaries than those without. Plus, the continual merging of business and tech increasingly requires MBAs to have some general knowledge in science, engineering, and math. For international students, graduating with a STEM-designated MBA allows them to apply to a 24-month work extension compared to the 12-month work program for those without STEM-designated degrees. To qualify, STEM-certified programs must also be approved by the U.S. Department of Homeland Security.

“It is a reality of the technological economy today that many of the employers who recruit at USC offer positions, to say nothing of future jobs and leadership opportunities, that require STEM qualifications,” USC Marshall Assistant Dean and Graduate Career Services Director Mark Brostoff said in the school’s statement.