Missouri State Launches STEM MBA

A growing number of business schools nationwide are launching STEM-focused master of business administration programs.
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Published on March 29, 2024
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  • Missouri State University will launch a STEM-focused master of business administration (MBA) degree this fall.
  • The program will feature instruction in high-demand areas like cybersecurity alongside traditional MBA courses.
  • A growing number of business schools nationwide are embracing science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) in their MBA programs.
  • Earning a degree that is STEM-designated by the Department of Homeland Security allows a 24-month extension of F-1 visas for international students to pursue practical training.

Another business school is adding a STEM-designated master of business administration (MBA) degree.

Missouri State University will launch a STEM-designated MBA degree program this fall, according to a press release from the school. That program will combine STEM-focused elective courses in areas like cybersecurity and data analytics with traditional MBA courses, and it can be completed in the same timeframe as the university's traditional MBA.

An MBA typically covers a broad variety of business topics in areas like finance, management, economics, and more to prepare students for leadership roles. The popular graduate business degree can lead to career advancement and a strong return on investment for students.

STEM, or science, technology, engineering, and mathematics, covers a number of high-demand tech skills. At Missouri State, that includes focus areas such as cybersecurity and data analysis — and both of those areas could unlock careers in fast-growing fields for students.

The Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) projects that employment of information security analysts, who secure and protect an organization's computer systems, will grow at a rapid clip of 32% from 2022-2032. Those cybersecurity professionals made a median annual salary of $112,000 in 2022.

Employment of data scientists, who had a 2022 median annual pay of $103,500 is projected to increase by a meteoric 35% from 2022-2032.

A STEM-designated MBA has more benefits than just unlocking higher-paying, in-demand career options for students.

A U.S. Department of Homeland Security STEM designation also "allows a 24-month extension of already approved optional practical training for international students pursuing the degree under an F-1 visa status," according to the Missouri State release.

"This degree will offer additional career opportunities for our students and complement our recruiting efforts," Elizabeth Rozell, Missouri State MBA program director and associate dean, said in the release.

"The first of its kind at a public institution in Missouri, this will help domestic students expand interest in STEM fields and give more opportunity to international students who wish to work in the United States after graduation."

STEM MBAs Take Off Nationwide

Tech skills like data analysis and working with artificial intelligence are increasingly important to employers — and a growing number of business schools are incorporating STEM into their MBA programs to meet that demand.

The Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI) in Massachusetts will also launch a STEM MBA this fall with a focus on analytics. WPI Business School Dean Debora Jackson underscored the importance of data to businesses in a release.

"The volume of digital data available for business decision-making has grown significantly over the past decade, and businesses are increasingly relying on data to make better decisions," Jackson said.

The University of North Carolina Wilmington's Cameron School of Business received a federal STEM designation for its MBA program last year. That program features concentrations in fields like cybersecurity and information systems.

"The new STEM designation of our MBA programs is a reflection of the analytical focus of the curriculum," Nivine Richie, Cameron School of Business associate dean for graduate, international, and executive programs, said in the school's press release at the time.

"The Cameron School of Business is growing in its technological advances, and the faculty has expanded the curriculum to meet the analytical needs of our community. Embedded in the curriculum are courses that equip students with forecasting, modeling, and analytical skills, especially in the international MBA program."

Tulane University's A.B. Freeman School of Business revamped its MBA curriculum last year to focus on STEM, with data embedded across its courses, including a five-course sequence centered around data-driven decision-making.

Business schools are also incorporating tech skills beyond their MBA curricula.

Purdue University's recently revamped Mitchell E. Daniels, Jr. School of Business, for instance, is incorporating STEM in both undergraduate and graduate degrees. WPI is likewise incorporating high-demand technologies like financial technology (fintech), artificial intelligence, and other key skills into its business curriculum.