Master’s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Programs (STEM) in Iowa
Master’s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics degree programs encompass a wide variety of academic disciplines. They are geared toward helping students develop the knowledge and skills they need to pursue careers in STEM fields. STEM is an umbrella term encompassing the distinct but related disciplines of science, technology, engineering, and mathematics.
Why STEM Education Is Important
As technology continues to progress and shape our world, STEM education becomes increasingly more significant. The skills gained through STEM education not only prepare students for the future workforce, they might also drive innovation and development of new technologies and solutions to real-world problems.
STEM education and the future of the workforce
The demand for STEM occupations is growing: According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, STEM jobs are projected to grow by 10.8% between 2021 and 2031, which is over twice the rate of non-STEM occupations.1 As technology continues to march on, many of the jobs that could be available in the future may require some level of STEM education. In healthcare, for example, professionals may be needed to design and develop new technologies and processes to improve patient care.
STEM education and innovation
STEM education is typically geared toward promoting critical and creative thinking, problem solving, innovation, and science literacy—all of which may be foundational in developing new technologies and finding solutions.
STEM education also encourages collaboration and teamwork, which could foster a culture of innovation. Collaborative efforts encourage open dialogue, constructive debates, and the cross-pollination of ideas, challenging conventional thinking and pushing the boundaries of what might be possible.
Master’s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics: Essentials
Because STEM encompasses a broad range of disciplines, STEM master’s degree programs may have different prerequisites, curricula, and graduation requirements. Following are some general guidelines.
In many cases, programs require an undergraduate degree in a similar field, but there are exceptions. Also, sometimes a college or university might offer a 5-year program that leads to both a bachelor’s and a master’s degree.
Schools might also require GRE or GMAT test scores, a personal statement, a resume, and letters of recommendation.
In addition to required and elective coursework, which may vary both by discipline and school, STEM master’s programs often require students to complete a capstone, thesis, or other type of project. For example, a computer science program might ask students to design and develop a software system or app and create a working prototype. A student in an environmental science master’s program might be required to conduct research in the field and interpret and analyze the data.
Types of Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Master’s Programs
Following is a sampling of the types of STEM degree programs available.
- Master’s in Aerospace Engineering
- Master’s in Architecture
- Construction Management
- Urban Landscape Design
- Master’s in Biological Biomedical Engineering
- Master’s in Biology
- Cell Molecular Biology
- Genetics Genomics
- Master’s in Biomedical Science
- Immunology Cancer Biology
- Master’s in Chemical Engineering
- Master’s in Civil Engineering
- Master’s in Computer Science
- Master’s in Data Analytics
- Master’s in Electrical Engineering
- Master’s in Engineering
- Master’s in Engineering Management
- Master’s in Environmental Engineering
- Petroleum Engineering
- Master’s in Environmental Science
- Agricultural Science Agronomy
- Botany and Plant Science
- Conservation Biology
- Marine Science
- Master’s in Information Science
- Master’s in Information Security
- Master’s in Industrial and Mechanical Engineering
- Industrial Engineering
- Materials Science
- Mechanical Engineering
- Systems Engineering
- Transportation Management
- Master’s in Mathematics and Statistics
- Actuarial Science
- Statistics Data Analysis
- Master’s in Neuroscience
- Master’s in Physical Sciences
- Astronomy and Astrophysics
- Master’s in Physiology
- Master’s in Veterinary Animal Sciences
Potential Benefits of Pursuing a Master’s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Pursuing a STEM degree could open doors to making a meaningful difference and contributing to a positive societal impact. STEM professionals often operate at the forefront of innovation, shaping the future in fields such as computer technology, medicine, engineering, design, robotics, and beyond. The ability to explore, innovate, and ultimately influence society may be a driving force behind the high job satisfaction reported by STEM majors.
STEM careers also typically offer higher salaries compared to non-STEM careers. In 2021, the average annual median salary for STEM occupations was $95,420; for non-STEM occupations, it was $40,120.1 And, as mentioned previously, STEM jobs are projected to grow over twice as fast as non-STEM occupations.
Potential Career Paths with a Master’s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics
Just as there is a broad range of degree programs in STEM, there are a host of career opportunities for STEM graduates.
Following are some specific career paths, along with median salaries in 2022.
Median annual salary: $112,1102
Median annual salary: $103,5003
Median annual salary: $98,9204
Mathematical Sciences Teacher, Postsecondary*
Median annual salary: $77,4205
Bioengineer or Biomedical Engineer
Median annual salary: $99,5506
Median annual salary: $106,2607
Median annual salary: $126,8808
Engineering Teacher, Postsecondary*
Median annual salary: $103,5509
Median annual salary: $76,48010
Median annual salary: $128,33011
Atmospheric and Space Scientists
Median annual salary: $83,78012
Atmospheric, Earth, Marine, and Space Sciences Teachers, Postsecondary*
Median annual salary: $97,77013
Computer and Information Research Scientist
Median annual salary: $136,62014
Computer and Information Systems Managers
Median annual salary: $164,07015
Computer Science Teacher*
Median annual salary: $84,76016
Other Computer Occupations
The average median annual salary for occupations in this category was $98,740 in 2022.17Occupations include:
- Web Administrators
- Geographic Information Systems Technologists and Technicians
- Document Management Specialists
- Penetration Testers
- Information Security Engineers
- Digital Forensics Analysts
- Blockchain Engineers
- Computer Systems Engineers/Architects
- Information Technology Project Managers
Metropolitan areas with the highest employment level in Computer and Information Systems Managers, 202215
|Metropolitan area||Employment||Annual mean wage|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||42,790||$223,410|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||25,700||$231,290|
|Los Angeles-Long Beach-Anaheim, CA||24,630||$183,980|
|Dallas-Fort Worth-Arlington, TX||21,260||$161,350|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||20,080||$279,960|
|Atlanta-Sandy Springs-Roswell, GA||11,250||$173,730|
Top paying metropolitan areas for Computer and Information Systems Managers, 202215
|Metropolitan area||Annual mean wage||Employment|
|San Jose-Sunnyvale-Santa Clara, CA||$279,960||20,080|
|San Francisco-Oakland-Hayward, CA||$231,290||25,700|
|New York-Newark-Jersey City, NY-NJ-PA||$223,410||42,790|
|Santa Maria-Santa Barbara, CA||$200,800||780|
|San Diego-Carlsbad, CA||$184,950||7,370|
How to Choose a STEM Master’s Program
Whether you are searching for a program in biology or statistics, data analysis or chemical engineering, there are a few basic guidelines you might follow to help you choose a program that could help you reach your goals.
First and foremost, ensure that any school you are considering is accredited. Schools that are accredited have been evaluated by an outside agency to verify that they meet certain standards of quality and rigor.
In addition to accreditation of schools, degree programs in some disciplines may be accredited as well. For example, ABET is a nonprofit, non-governmental organization recognized by the Council for Higher Education Accreditation (CHEA) that accredits programs in applied science, computing, engineering, and engineering technologies.
Aside from accreditation, there are other ways you could determine the quality of a degree program. You might examine rankings, search for student reviews, or talk to current students or alumni.
It’s often helpful to do a little research about the faculty of a program you are considering. What type of professional experience do they have? Have they published any papers? Do their specific areas of interest coincide with yours?
Degree programs are generally available in several learning formats—on campus, online, or a combination of the two (known as hybrid programs). Each has its own particular appeal, but only you could determine which would fit your lifestyle. Online programs are often appealing to those who need flexibility—for example, those who might have families, jobs, or other life commitments—or to those who are unable or uninterested in relocating. On-campus programs provide face-to-face interaction and may require less planning and self-motivation. Hybrid programs could be ideal for those who need the flexibility of an online program but also crave the stimulation of personal interaction.
Cost and financial aid
Like it or not, cost may be a factor in choosing a school. While tuition is typically a significant component of cost, also examine miscellaneous costs, such as materials, technology, room and board if applicable, etc. Also investigate financial aid opportunities—these might offset the cost of a school that you otherwise might not be able to afford.
With a STEM education you’ll embark on a path of discovery that could open up a world of opportunities. Whether you aspire to be at the forefront of technological advancements, contribute to groundbreaking research, or make a tangible impact on society, a graduate STEM education could equip you with the tools, knowledge, and skills to thrive.
STEM Education Scholarships and Grants for Graduate Students
A variety of scholarships, grants, and fellowships may be available to STEM graduate students who qualify. This is by no means an exhaustive list, but it could give you a head start in your efforts to fund your master’s education.
Agencies such as the Department of Energy (DOE), Environmental Protection Agency (EPA), National Science Foundation (NSF), and National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA) sponsor a range of scholarship and fellowship opportunities.
The Hertz Foundation offers generous fellowships for graduate students in applied physical, biological, and engineering sciences. Recipients receive five years of funding, valued at up to $250,000.
The NDSEG Fellowship supports graduate students in science and engineering disciplines who are interested in pursuing careers in defense research and innovation. The fellowship lasts for 3 years and pays for full tuition and all mandatory fees; a monthly stipend ($38,400 annually); a $5,000 travel budget over the Fellow’s tenure for professional development; and up to $1,200 a year in health insurance.
The Ford Foundation provides fellowships for individuals committed to diversity and inclusion in academia. They offer fellowships in various disciplines, including STEM fields, at the predoctoral, dissertation, and postdoctoral levels.
This scholarship supports students with disabilities pursuing degrees in computer science, engineering, or related fields. Recipients will receive $10,000 for STEM degree programs in the United States.
AAUW offers several fellowships and grants to support women pursuing graduate studies in various fields, including STEM disciplines.
ACS offers renewable scholarships for graduate students studying chemistry and related fields, such as chemical engineering and materials science. Awards are up to $5,000 per academic year.
This fellowship program awards $6,000 to graduate students who are conducting STEM research relevant to NASA or aerospace.
The Society for Women Engineers offers a number of scholarships for female graduate students in STEM.
GIS offers a merit-based scholarship ranging in amounts from $500 to $5,000 or a non-merit based scholarship ranging from $500 to $1,000. Applicants must be of Hispanic descent and/or demonstrate significant leadership or service within the underserved community.
Thermo Fisher Scientific offers one $10,000 award or one of five $5,000 awards to grad students with a declared major in biology, chemistry, biochemistry, or a related life science field.
The AFCEA Educational Foundation awards scholarships of $3,000 to full-time students (women and minority students).LabRoots STEM Scholarship
The 2023 LabRoots Graduate Research Scholarship offers an award of $1,000 to one graduate student to offset the costs of conducting research.
SME Education Foundation offers multiple scholarships to students in manufacturing or engineering.
Popular Schools with Master’s in Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics Programs (STEM)
*While postsecondary teachers typically need to have a doctoral degree in their field, a master’s degree may be enough for some postsecondary teachers at community colleges.
Sources: 1https://www.bls.gov/emp/tables/stem-employment.htm | 2https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152021.htm | 3https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152051.htm | 4https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes152041.htm | 5https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251022.htm | 6https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172031.htm | 7https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172041.htm | 8https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes172011.htm | 9https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251032.htm | 10https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes192041.htm | 11https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes192011.htm | 12https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes192021.htm | 13https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251051.htm | 14https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes151221.htm | 15https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes113021.htm | 16https://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes251021.htm | 17https://www.bls.gov/ooh/about/data-for-occupations-not-covered-in-detail.htm#Computer%20and%20mathematical%20occupations
Based on national data, not school-specific information. Conditions in your area may vary. Accessed 6/13/2023.
This is an offer for educational opportunities that may lead to employment and not an offer for nor a guarantee of employment. Students should consult with a representative from the school they select to learn more about career opportunities in that field. Program outcomes vary according to each institution’s specific program curriculum.
Grand Canyon University
Colorado State University Global
Western Governors University
University of Iowa
University of Northern Iowa
Iowa State University
Des Moines University
Maharishi University Of Management