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Specialized Degree: STEM

Computer Scientists Lead Growth in STEM Field

December 2021

The STEM subjects — science, technology, engineering and mathematics — have been making news and growing in demand for quite some time. This is especially true in this era of increased use of “Internet of Things” including everything from smart devices to microchipped pets, climate change battles, and the use of biomedical sciences to combat the growing threat of future pandemics.

The importance of STEM degrees

STEM subjects have taken a front seat as countries from around the world continually advance and compete with each other in these subjects. In fact, STEM fields of study are important enough that the Department of Education has been pushing STEM education at all levels, from elementary to graduate school, and is proactively addressing the issue of STEM attrition1 to cut down on college students changing their declared STEM majors to non-STEM majors. Why? Because these are the subjects that keep the United States viable in a technologically and scientifically advancing world. Although ironically, it’s notable that while only 17% of all master’s degrees conferred in the United States were in STEM degrees,2 half of those were received by nonresident alien students.

STEM degrees on the rise

Between the 2009–10 school year and 2018–19 school year, master’s degrees conferred in engineering increased by 41%, computer science increased by 154% and mathematics and statistics increased by 102%. With over 10 million STEM jobs in the United States, nearly 45% of them are in computer occupations, with engineering jobs following at 19%.

Not surprisingly, under the computer occupation umbrella, information security analyst is projected to have the highest percentage of growth (31.2%) over the next decade. An increasingly technological age leads to increasing opportunities for cybercrimes and hacking, and thus the need for experts in the cybersecurity field. America receives a taste of that any time a company’s data infrastructure is hacked and valuable information is compromised.

Worthwhile STEM occupations

If graduate school and a lucrative career in computers is in your immediate or near future, then consider becoming a computer and information research scientist.

It's now ranked as the number one occupation requiring a master’s degree with an above average rate of growth of 22% over the next decade. With a median annual wage of $126,830, your debt-to-income ratio should be fairly comfortable if you choose a school with the right balance of reputable curriculum and reasonable tuition.

Statistician, genetic counselor and epidemiologists also round out as the top graduate degree-requiring STEM occupations with high growth rates and generous salaries.

Keeping an eye toward the future

As we move into the next decade and are faced with things like climate change, pandemics and an ever-advancing technological world, the STEM categories are more important than ever. It’s those bright-minded, motivated individuals pursuing these degrees who are going to help advance society and keep it safe for decades to come. If you intend to plant your graduate school and career goals in the STEM fields, the rewards may be greater than you could imagine.

1 STEM Attrition: College Students’ Paths Into and Out of STEM Fields Statistical Analysis Report:
2 National Center for Education Statistics, Graduate Degree Fields, Supplemental Information:

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