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Columbia Is Latest M7 School To Embrace STEM

Columbia Business School students have been informed that the school’s MBA program is expected to be STEM-designated in time for Class of 2021 grads to take advantage of STEM-related visa benefits. Stacy Blackman photo

STEM. It’s what B-schools — including, increasingly, the schools of the M7 — do.

In an email leaked to Poets&Quants, Jonah Rockoff, senior vice dean for curriculum and programs at Columbia Business School, told students and colleagues in December that Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math designation of the school’s MBA program is imminent, with a goal “to have STEM designation completed for degrees conferred to the Class of ’21.”

Rockoff described the process that he said CBS has embarked upon: “All degrees in the United States,” he wrote, “have a Classification of Instructional Program (CIP) code, a subset of which falls under the broad category of science, technology, engineering or mathematics (STEM). We have begun the process to revise our CIP code to one which is STEM-designated, and reflects our MBA curriculum’s gradual but fundamental shift towards the scientific study of management and widespread use of quantitative methods.”

Not only does a STEM-designated degree benefit students going into STEM-related jobs, Rockoff wrote. It also gives international students — who comprise 40% of Columbia’s MBA population, including 47% of the Class of 2021 — a chance to work in the U.S. for three times as long without needing an H-1B visa.


Columbia’s Jonah Rockoff. CBS photo

Columbia Business School will join Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, MIT’s Sloan School of Management, and The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania as M7 schools with STEM MBAs or STEM pathways within their MBA programs. Just this week, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business told P&Q in a statement that the STEM process is underway at the No. 1 school in our 2020 ranking.

B-schools have been “going STEM” largely to mitigate a major and ongoing application slump. However, Columbia’s app situation has actually been the best among all top-25 schools, with CBS losing only 2.2% of app volume over the last three cycles; every other school lost more in that span. Meanwhile, CBS has not suffered in the rankings, standing firm at No. 7 on P&Q‘s list while gaining three spots to land No. 6 in U.S. News and, most recently, climbing one spot to 8th in The Financial Times ranking. Its international student number has fluctuated but has now stands at 47%, just one percentage point below where it was in the Class of 2018, before the app decline began.

Rockoff, who is also Columbia’s Armand G. Erpf professor of business economics, wrote in his December email that while there is no clear timeline for STEM designation to be in place, the process is underway and updates would be forthcoming this semester.

“We have submitted an initial proposal to the appropriate Columbia University officials to begin the formal designation process,” Rockoff wrote. “A University committee will evaluate our proposal and supporting rationale, and is likely to return with requests for further information. While we do not have a clear timeline to offer at this time, we will know more once we hear back from the committee next semester.

“Our goal remains to have STEM designation completed for degrees conferred to the Class of ’21. We will share more information when we have it available.”