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Another B-School Embraces STEM

Baltimore, Maryland’s Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School is undergoing some radical changes to its MBA program, which was launched in 2010. JHU photo

Another business school is embracing STEM as a way to stem the loss of international students.

Johns Hopkins University’s Carey Business School announced Thursday (Sept. 12) that in addition to a major overhaul of its MBA program that increases analytical and experiential course offerings, the school is making its MS in Marketing STEM-designated — in other words, making it a Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math program that gives non-citizen graduates the right to stay in the United States up to three years after graduation before they need a H1-B visa. The marketing degree joins three other STEM master’s programs at the Carey School, in finance, business analytics and risk management, and information systems.

And while the school’s MBA is not STEM-designated, it is heavily oriented toward analytics and tech — and now will become even more so. Among the changes announced this week is the addition of a new specialization in Health, Technology, and Innovation that will be available to students in the fall of 2020.


Johns Hopkins University Carey Business School Dean Alex Triantis. Courtesy photo

Since Donald Trump became U.S. president on a wave of anti-immigration sentiment, international students have begun looking elsewhere to pursue their MBAs — and mid-tier schools like Johns Hopkins Carey are feeling the pinch from the loss of international students much more acutely than their elite counterparts (though few U.S. business schools have gone unscathed). U.S. schools, however, have not idly watched their application volume plummet. Many have launched new STEM degrees or even recalibrated their MBA programs to earn the designation. In many cases, those that have have seen a reversal of fortune.

The years-long decline in international student interest in studying in the U.S. can largely be traced to the roadblocks that have been erected for those looking to stay in the country after they graduate. That decline is most keenly felt at mid-tier schools, and embracing STEM is a logical response. At one mid-tier program after another, that embrace has led to overhauls of not only the schools’ MBA programs but their whole portfolio of degree offerings, too.

International graduates of U.S. business schools currently may hold U.S. jobs for only 12 months before needing an H1-B visa —  a visa that has become harder to get amid the protracted political debate on immigration. To address a shortage of qualified workers in STEM fields that by some estimates will grow to more than a million jobs by 2024, the federal government in 2016 created the STEM Designated Degree Program, which makes it possible for international graduates to remain stateside for an additional 24 months after graduation and receive training through work experience. That means students with STEM-designated master’s degrees can work in the U.S. for up to three years after graduation without a H1-B visa. It didn’t take tea leaves for schools to figure out what would happen, so they began designing and offering STEM programs to respond to demand and attract new interest from foreign applicants.

In 2016, the University of Wisconsin-Madison became the first business school to receive STEM designation for concentrations within an MBA program. The next year, Duke University added a certificate program of courses to its MBA program which allowed for a STEM designation. And in 2018, the University of Rochester — whose Simon School has one of the highest percentages of international students in a full-time MBA among top 50 B-schools — became the first school to have its entire MBA program designated as STEM.


Johns Hopkins may not be seeking STEM designation for its MBA program — yet — but the Carey Business School has redesigned the program thoroughly to give it greater emphasis on analytics, leadership, and career development. And to put more emphasis on data-driven approaches to problem-solving and decision-making.

“Today’s MBA market is extremely competitive, but we’ve found the formula for a successful program. Students demand programs that prepare them for career advancement, and employers want graduates with skills to tackle the challenges of a complex business environment,” says Alex Triantis, who took over as dean of the Carey Business School Triantis on August 15. “We’re very excited about the Johns Hopkins MBA program, which was developed after nearly two years of market research and analysis with employers and students. This program is designed to amplify a student’s professional growth trajectory with market-ready skills, networking experiences, and career training that will prepare graduates for what’s next.”

The Carey MBA was launched in 2010. New program features include a “Big Data Consulting Project” in which students will be partnered with leading companies to gain practical experience in analyzing a data set related to a business challenge. In the Innovation Field Project, students will go onsite to work directly with partner organizations across different industries and sectors throughout the country. A slate of co-curricular activities — clubs, case competitions, community consulting, and more — will provide students with applied learning opportunities in business operations and leadership.

Johns Hopkins MBA students also will have the option to choose the Health, Technology, and Innovation specialization, which “capitalizes on Johns Hopkins’ world-renowned leadership in medicine, nursing, public health, and advanced biotechnology,” according to a news release. “Students will explore technology-driven, human-centered solutions to complex health challenges. Experiential courses and co-curricular activities for this specialization will focus on a broad range of health-related fields.”

Applications for fall 2020 enrollment opened this week.