STEM degrees are Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics programs. They all require using research and reasoning to solve problems. And, they could lead to diverse career paths in growing fields.
Within each category, you’ll find many kinds of STEM graduate degrees. For example, engineering students could study civil, electrical, or computer engineering. Science students could study everything from biology to veterinary and animal sciences. You could pursue goals that range from building bridges to keeping IT systems safe. No matter what path you pursue, STEM careers are key to a brighter future.
written by Shannon Fandler
STEM career paths are wide-ranging, and the industry as a whole is growing. Mathematics roles are growing the fastest, with 28% more jobs projected by 2026. 50,400 new jobs could be added in occupations that include Actuary and Operations Research Analyst. This is due to the growing importance of Big Data for businesses and government agencies.
Science career paths are also growing faster than average. Fields to watch include biomedical research, psychology, energy management, and environmental protection. An increased need for scientific expertise should lead to 10% growth across the board, by 2026.
Many engineering career paths are also growing. For instance, Civil Engineers could see 32,200 new jobs by 2026. This is due to the increasing obsolescence of U.S. infrastructure. So, engineers will be needed to update everything from roads to water treatment facilities.
(Sources: https://www.bls.gov/ooh/math/home.htm, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/life-physical-and-social-science/home.htm, https://www.bls.gov/ooh/architecture-and-engineering/home.htm)
The following STEM career paths may need a Master’s degree, according to BLS:
The level of education you may need depends on the role and your potential employer.
The following STEM career paths may need a PhD or other doctorate, depending on the role and employer:
|State||Employment||Annual Mean Wage|
|Metro Area||Annual Mean Salary||Employment|
STEM programs are reported by the National Center for Education Statistics under multiple categories, like engineering and engineering technologies.
Take engineering as an example. Per the most recent data (2013), nearly 54,000 related degrees were awarded to U.S. graduate students. The majority (84%) of these were Master’s degrees.
|Aerospace Engineering||University of Tennessee Space Institute||PhD|
|Biomedical Sciences||Meharry Medical College||PhD|
|Department of Biology||Austin Peay State University||MS|
|Doctor of Philosophy in Technology and Innovation Management - Engineering Management||Northcentral University||PhD|
|Master of Science in Mathematics||Shawnee State University||N/A|
|Mechanical Engineering||Colorado State University||MSME|
A Master’s in Information Technology often blends technical knowledge, business, and communications. You may study concepts like database design and network engineering. But, this kind of program doesn’t teach engineering in a traditional sense. Instead, you may explore how to use existing technologies to solve problems.
A Master’s in Engineering covers how to design systems and solutions. For example, a civil engineering program teaches infrastructure analysis and design. You could learn to plan roads and ensure traffic flows in a city. You could even design bridges and other local landmarks.
At first glance, these two Master’s programs are quite different. But, they may share some basic foundations, like math and science. And, earning a degree such as a Master’s in Software Engineering could blend the best of both worlds!
STEM Degree Guide
Master's in Technology
Master's in Engineering
Length of Program: 60 credits
Length of Program: 30 credits, 5 semesters
This program brings together IT, business, and communications concepts. You’ll study the strategic use of IT solutions, plus leadership techniques to help organizations run smoothly. Choose from three concentrations: business intelligence and analytics, information security and assurance, or project management.
This program delves into advanced civil engineering principles. You’ll study how to design, construct, and maintain built environments – from highways to airports. And, you’ll study skill areas like project management, engineering modeling, and geotechnical engineering.
No specific program accreditation
No specific program accreditation
STEM courses span areas like math, science, statistics, technology, and more. In other words, expect your courses to be specific to your field.
In a graduate program in biology, you could study subjects like:
Graduate programs in statistics cover how to develop, research, and use quantitative tools. So, you could take courses like:
Engineering programs also feature coursework specific to a discipline. For instance, a Master’s in Electrical Engineering program covers courses ranging from signal processing to power systems. You could also study:
What does most STEM coursework have in common? A foundation in math and science that can be applied to solve problems across diverse disciplines.
ABET accredits select STEM graduate programs. These include Master’s programs in Engineering and Applied & Natural Science.
Accreditation helps to prove your program meets the global standards of your STEM field. So, you can be confident you are pursuing a high-quality education. And, some employers may look for graduates of ABET-accredited programs.
Finally, earning a degree from an ABET-accredited program may be required for licensure, registration, or certification. That’s true for Civil Engineers who want to earn their Professional Engineering (PE) license, among others.
Earning a Master’s degree in a STEM subject may take around two years for full-time students.
Earning a STEM doctorate may take between three and seven years. Program length depends on your enrollment status, plus the requirements to earn the degree. For instance, most PhD programs include a dissertation.
|University||# Of Credits Required||Start Dates||Minimum Months to Complete|
|Utica College||30||3||20 months|
|Colorado State University||30||2||24 months|
|University of Louisville||30||3||24 months|
|Northcentral University||30||12||23 months|
The average cost of a of a graduate degree from a public institution is $11,617 per year. So, you could find STEM programs both more affordable and more expensive than the average.
Check out the graduate tuition costs of these four institutions with STEM programs, as reported by NCES. We compared them with the typically most affordable and most expensive schools, also reported by NCES.
Instate/Out Of State Tuition
Many graduate STEM programs charge by the credit, and these costs vary widely. Check out the cost per credit for earning a STEM degree at the following schools:
|University||# Of Credits Required||Cost Per Credit||Total Tuition Cost|
|Pennsylvania State University – World Campus||30||$886||$26,580|
|University of Colorado – Boulder||30||$1050/$1350||$31,500/40,500|
|University of Louisville||30||$714||$21,420|
|Colorado Technical University||100||$598||$59,800|