Tepper Class Of 2019 MBAs Urgently Call For Retroactive STEM


Poets&Quants received a series of testimonials from affected CMU Tepper students facing job loss, uncertain visa status, or imminent dislocation, as well as support statements by colleagues. We reprint them here in their entirety.

“I am currently in a rotational program,” one Class of 2019 Tepper grad says. “I have worked hard and earned credits from the team in my first rotation. My next rotation will start around June 2020. The visa issue became the most critical factor for the company to decide my stay, as the company is experiencing a downturn. I was not selected in the H-1B 2020 lottery and need to exit the U.S. immediately while my husband, who graduated from another business program, gets his STEM OPT extension and will be able to work in the U.S. for another two years. In that case, the family will be falling apart. Without Tepper’s support on STEM designation, I am getting laid off and will have to head back to my home country apart from my husband. Based on the above mentioned, I hope Tepper school could be sympathetic and support us as a family.”

Writes another: “Even though I work for a large consulting firm that has offices worldwide, due to the current Covid-19 crisis all the intracompany transfers and recruiting processes are frozen. With limited number of companies recruiting foreign nationals in the U.S., I worked very hard and put a tremendous amount of effort to obtain a job of my dream. It’s discouraging that without STEM I have to resign in a few months that will leave me with no income and ~$100,000 student loan, which was obtained to cover tuition for the MBA program.

“CMU has always been known for its strong community support and as an alumna, I actively participated in the on-campus recruiting events and made sure to increase the representation of CMU at our firm. Now, when my colleagues and I need CMU’s support more than ever, I feel thrown overboard. I really hope that the school administration comes back to us with a positive decision as soon as possible, since it is a time-sensitive matter for us and affects our safety and well-being.”

Another MBA’s career in the U.S. was uncertain “from day one,” because the company that hired them as an intern pulled back its MBA hiring and cancelled full-time offers.

“I fought hard throughout my second year and finally received a job offer two days before my graduation,” the MBA writes. “But due to the H-1B lottery system, in less than 12 months my career was again on the brink of falling. I would need to move to another country or back to India to pursue my dreams. Now, the job landscape has worsened in every country due to Covid crisis. While my current team can’t afford to transfer me to another country due to budget constraints, it’s even challenging to find a job in my own country due to current economic conditions. Having only one chance at the lottery worsens the situation for many candidates like me who will need to repay hefty education loans while working from other countries. An OPT extension will not only provide a window for more chances at the lottery, but also brings stability to my professional and financial life.”

Another Tepper Class of 2019 MBA received a job offer from their current employer in May 2019. “H-1B 2020 was the one shot I got to secure employment authorization in the U.S. After an arduous search for both internship and full-time roles, I am happy with the role I have, and my contributions are appreciated by both my team and leadership. However, my current employer has operations only in the U.S. In the event my selected H-1B is not processed successfully, I face imminent exit from the U.S. and have to go through the process of recruiting for a full-time role in my home country at short notice.

“In the current state of limbo, I can neither recruit and commit to job opportunities in my home country, nor can I pursue more challenging roles in the U.S. The Covid crisis adds another layer of obstacles as recruiting is shutting down and companies are downsizing. Finally, the anxiety of having student loans limits my choices and the time I have to find another role that satisfies my aspirations. A STEM OPT would give a breather to grow in and do justice to my current role instead of job hunting again out of necessity.”


Here are testimonials from colleagues of the 12 Tepper grads, including citizens, permanent residents, and H-1B visa holders.

“As someone with many close international friends, I saw firsthand the fear that losing access to most jobs (most companies stopped sponsoring in 2017-2019) and potentially ruinous financial impact of taking on debt from an American university without access to post-MBA roles that pay U.S.-level salaries,” one Tepper MBA writes. “Students joined the class not realizing the policy changes underway, and as a class we fought to find ways to help them, including this new STEM designation, which makes perfect sense given the scientific management backbone and rigor of the coursework at CMU Tepper.

“Since other universities have applied the STEM degree change retroactively to their students when they have an MBA program that is not nearly as technically rigorous as ours, I don’t understand why we would deny our students the opportunity to have more freedom to pursue their careers with the security of 24 months in the workforce without sponsorship needs. Their receiving this STEM degree would only improve the standing of our graduates in their fields and their gratitude to our community and university.”

Another alumnus notes that Tepper has a significant focus on diversity and inclusion that should be a lodestar in this circumstance. “We preach the importance of helping each other and not being cutthroat,” the alumnus writes. “We want to educate the best and brightest from across the world. By not supporting those who came before, we are doing ill to all those who come after. It’ll hurt our reputation and it hurts individuals who have dedicated significant time, effort, and money to the program. Also, it discourages these individuals from donating as alumni in the future since they were not supported by the administration.”

  • “Many of my classmates were not afforded the opportunity to work in the United States based on low projected numbers of H-1Bs available to non-STEM graduate students. I believe it to be in the best interest of the students, alumni and Carnegie Mellon to provide this retroactive support. The graduate program world is small. The university should not needlessly tarnish its reputation, while damaging the long-term prospects of some of the brightest students.”
  • “Current policy will reduce the alumni employment rate, which cascades into a school ranking drop as international salaries are significantly lower. Remember, class of ’19 was 1/3 international students.”
  • “Tepper has earned the STEM characterization by the rigor of the program. The rigor that warranted this designation was present during the period of study of the Class of 2019. If those students met the same threshold of course selection and attendance that merits a STEM designation for classes going forward, it would be a tremendous disservice to not recognize those who paved that way ahead. For me as a citizen, it is semantics. But for a huge portion of my class, this is a pivotal point in their careers and futures. The Tepper alumni of 2019 deserve this recognition, and it is of incredible value to a vulnerable segment of our class.”
  • “It is very sad to know that our school is taking so much time in helping 2019 grads who are in need of these STEM benefits. I know other MBA schools provide the STEM benefits retroactively. When other schools are taking a step to address the needs of international students, why can’t we? In the current society, we make changes to laws, policy and regulations to accommodate the needs of individuals and business, which in turn benefits the society. By making this change, the school will be benefited in terms of recognition as well as lifelong support to school from international student organizations.”
  • “Tepper is not the first business school to receive this designation. Others have been able to retroactively apply this to recent grads who have done the required work. I urge you to do the right thing and allow folks who did the work to receive the designation. There is benefit to the school as well. We will increase our alumni base in the U.S. and allow for larger networks to help current and future students find employment. Please do the right thing even if it means navigating a little bit of extra red tape.”
  • “Helping the international students to get STEM benefits can greatly change their lives. All their efforts made to come to this country and their dedication to complete MBA and secure a job deserve a positive outcome. We appreciate it that Tepper became a STEM program. Since all the other MBA programs that made it to STEM were able to impact the graduated students, I sincerely hope we can spare no efforts to make it happen to our Tepper international graduates.”


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