The 5 Best STEM MBA Programs in the US

Are you a prospective MBA candidate interested in both STEM and business? Learn about the top STEM MBA programs in the United States in our article below.

Posted May 21, 2024

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With the growing overlap between the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, Mathematics) fields and the business world, employers are seeking MBA graduates who have the leadership skills and business skills honed through traditional business education, as well as the analytical skills developed through a STEM education. Recognizing this emerging intersection, many business schools today offer STEM-focused MBA programs to prepare students for an increasingly technologically and data-driven business world.

What is a STEM MBA Program?

According to the Department of Homeland Security, at least half of the coursework for STEM-designated programs must be STEM or STEM-related. Nationally recognized STEM fields include “engineering, biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences, or a related field… involving research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences.” The definition of a STEM-related field is broad and includes dozens of fields of study beyond the Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics acronym, including management science, digital communication and media/multimedia, artificial intelligence, information technology, econometrics and quantitative economics, and financial mathematics. See the complete list of recognized fields of study here.

Benefits of a STEM MBA Program

Perhaps the most obvious advantage of enrolling in a STEM MBA program is the opportunity to develop both qualitative and quantitative skills and become a well-rounded professional in an increasingly digital business environment. According to the 2023 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey, about three-quarters of employers believe that technology, software, and programming skills will become important in the business world within the next five years, while data analysis and interpretation are important both now and in the future. However, less than half of those employers believe that MBA graduates are adequately prepared for utilizing technology in today’s business environment.

Developing strong STEM skills can not only prepare you for a more competitive and technology-driven job market but also demonstrate your ability to handle a challenging workload, use data to make better business decisions, and succeed in a variety of fields and sectors. In addition to the traditional management and business administration roles, you might choose to use your business education to take on leadership roles in STEM sectors such as biotechnology or software development. Thus, you may be able to enter STEM fields, often in higher-level roles, regardless of the major your undergraduate degree was in, allowing for greater flexibility in your career.

STEM MBA Programs for International Students

One significant benefit of enrolling in a STEM MBA program specific to international students is the opportunity to apply for a 24-month extension of the time allotted in the United States. For international students on F-1 visas who have already completed a STEM degree in the United States, enrolling in an additional STEM program, such as a STEM MBA program, can qualify you for a 24-month extension of your post-completion optional practical training (OPT) employment authorization after graduation, which is usually 12 months. If you are an international student and did not complete a STEM undergraduate program, you may be eligible for 12 months of OPT, then use your STEM MBA program to apply for a 24-month STEM OPT extension.

International students may participate in a STEM OPT extension twice in the course of their academic careers, such as after completing bachelor’s degree programs and after completing graduate degree programs, allowing them to stay up to three years without an H-1B visa. See if you qualify for a STEM OPT extension here. You can also check if the program of each business school qualifies before beginning the application process. Most business schools list this information on their admission site and have resources supporting international applicants, current students, and recent graduates looking to apply for OPT extensions.

Top 5 STEM MBA Programs in the United States

In our list below, we’ll explore some of the strongest MBA programs with STEM MBA designation in the country. According to a 2021 Kaplan/Manhattan Prep survey, about 22% of business schools have received a STEM MBA designation for their full-time MBA programs compared to just 13% in the previous year, so keep in mind that the list of STEM MBA programs available is changing year by year.

1. Stanford Graduate School of Business

Located in the heart of Silicon Valley, Stanford’s MBA program offers a plethora of academic and professional opportunities for aspiring innovators. Its core curriculum includes STEM-related courses such as Data Analysis and Decision Making, Information Management, and Organizational Behavior, and it also offers unique STEM electives such as Corporate Financial Modeling, Business and AI, Neuroscience and the Connection to Sustained Excellence, Climate Tech for Rapid Decarbonization, Data Science and Experimentation for Decision Making, and Blockchain Governance.

With the second year of the GSB curriculum being made up entirely of elective courses, MBA students have plenty of opportunities to explore the STEM fields and subfields of their interests. Stanford GSB also offers STEM-focused dual MBA degrees in computer science, electrical engineering, and environment and resources.

2. Harvard Business School

Harvard’s illustrious business school first approved its Management Science track, a STEM MBA track within its full-time MBA program, in 2020, but its core curriculum also includes STEM-related required courses such as Data Science for Managers, Technology and Operations Management, and Finance. The Management Science focuses on scientific methods and approaches of management, emphasized through courses such as A Manager's Guide to Leveraging Technology, Behavioral Economics for Managerial Decision Making, Data Visualization for Analysis and Communication, and Entrepreneurship in Life Sciences. HBS also offers joint degrees in medicine, dental medicine, and engineering sciences.

3. UPenn Wharton School

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania offers nine STEM MBA majors within its full-time MBA program: Business Analytics; Business Economics and Public Policy; Business, Energy, Environment and Sustainability; Environmental, Social and Governance Factors For Business; Finance; Operations, Information and Decisions; Quantitative Finance; Social and Governance Factors for Business; and Statistics. Each of the nine majors prepares students for high-level jobs requiring both business and technical expertise after graduation. The University of Pennsylvania also offers a dual-degree in Engineering and Business.

4. MIT Sloan School of Management

With “Technology” in its name, it’s no surprise that MIT Sloan has a STEM MBA designation. STEM-related core courses include Economic Analysis for Business Decisions; Data, Models, and Decisions; and Financial Accounting. Sloan also offers certificates such as Sustainability, Business Analytics, and Entrepreneurship and Innovation and dual-degrees in city planning, public administration, and public policy. MIT also encourages Sloan students to explore their interests through graduate courses across MIT’s schools or at Harvard University through its cross-registration program.

5. Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business

As part of a nationally-ranking institution for STEM, the Tepper School incorporates data analytics throughout its MBA program. In addition to required STEM-based courses such as Statistical Decision Making and Probability and Statistics, students can also choose to pursue concentrations and tracks such as Technology Strategy and Product Management, Energy and Sustainability, AI in Business, Business Technologies, Health Care Analytics, and more. Tepper also offers dual master’s programs combining a management curriculum with public policy, health care policy, and general or software engineering.

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Other Schools Offering STEM-Designated MBA Programs

The schools listed above are some of the highest-ranked STEM MBA programs. Here are the STEM-certified MBAs at other business schools.

Key Takeaways

  • An MBA program must have at least half of its coursework in STEM (Science Technology Engineering and Mathematics) or STEM-related fields, such as management science or data analytics, in order to receive official designation.
  • Many schools today have STEM MBA programs, although some programs are designated as a whole and others have specific tracks, majors, or concentrations that are STEM-designated.
  • If your career objectives are to enter management roles in STEM fields, a STEM MBA may offer the right balance of technical knowledge and leadership development. However, even if you’re interested in more traditional business roles, a STEM MBA can better prepare you for an increasingly technology-driven economy.
  • Whether an MBA program has a STEM designation tends to be more important if you are an international student, as enrolling in these programs can qualify you for a 24-month extension of your OPT.

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