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UCLA Gains STEM-Designation For All Three MBA Programs

UCLA Anderson MBA Students

Even as universities anxiously await a decision by President Trump to crack down on a program that allows international graduates of U.S. schools the opportunity to work in the country for up to three years, UCLA’s Anderson School of Management yesterday (June 16) joined the stampede of business schools to embrace STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) certification.

The school, moreover, gained the designation across all three of its MBA programs, full-time, fully-employed and Executive MBA, not merely specific concentrations as some schools have adopted. Through the government’s Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, STEM degree holders qualify for 36 months of post-graduate work in the U.S., three times longer than otherwise. Applicants get one chance at the H-1B lottery each year; three years of OPT means three shots at the prize.

Anderson joins more than two dozen top B-schools have established or expanded STEM programs to lure more international students with the promise of lengthier post-graduation work stays in the United States. Yet, the announcement comes during widespread worry that the Trump administration is about to accede to a request by Republican senators to halt the issuance of new H-1B visas and suspend all non-immigrant work permits for at least a year, or until employment levels rebound (see The OPT Program Is In Trump’s Crosshairs; B-Schools Weigh Threat). Half a million people are in the U.S. on H-1B visas, which are limited to 85,000 annually and can only be acquired through a lottery process; the OPT program, as of last year, had an enrollment of about 223,000.


Antonio Bernardo has been a member of the UCLA Anderson finance faculty since 1994. UCLA photo

Anderson Dean Antonio Bernardo said the new STEM certification, which is retroactive to the class of 2019, reflects the increasingly quantitative focus of the school’s MBA curriculum, in response to technological advances, employer needs and student interests. “Our MBA programs have always had significant quantitative elements, but as technology has advanced and more MBA students turn to tech careers, the number of data and quantitative courses in the MBA curriculum at Anderson has grown significantly,” Bernardo said in a statement. “This change is a reflection of that.”

The STEM MBA is also increasingly desirable among employers, the dean said. The skills that graduates acquire while earning such degrees — a mix of technology and management — are becoming essential in today’s workplace. “We know that recruiters are increasingly focused on graduates with an analytical and technological orientation, and Anderson’s STEM designation will underscore our students’ abilities and interests in these areas,” he added.

The school said that the three Anderson MBA programs received the STEM designation after a review by UCLA’s graduate division of how the programs are categorized by the National Center for Education Statistics under a Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code. The new code defines the UCLA Anderson MBA 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.”


After the review, the three UCLA Anderson MBA degree programs were changed from “Business Administration and Management, General,” to “Management Science,” which is considered a STEM program.

Two other degree programs at UCLA Anderson, the Master of Financial Engineering and Master of Science in Data Analytics, are also STEM certified.

The U.S. government established the STEM designation to address a shortage of qualified workers in scientific and technical fields. The Department of Homeland Security’s STEM Designated Degree Program includes various STEM fields and, since 2016, has allowed eligible students on an F-1 visa to apply for what the agency calls the STEM OPT extension. All current UCLA Anderson international students who are on an F-1 visa and enrolled in the three programs will be eligible to apply for the extension under the designation.