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Graduate STEM Frequently Asked Questions

What does the STEM designation mean for master’s programs?

A program can be STEM-designated based on whether at least 50 percent of the program’s required courses are STEM courses.

After reviewing the Drexel LeBow MBA, we were able to designate specific concentrations as STEM eligible. These concentrations are:

* STEM designation applies to students enrolled in the above concentrations in fall 2023 or later.

In addition to STEM-designated MBA concentrations, Drexel LeBow has specialized master’s programs that are STEM-designated. These include:

Students must be enrolled in a STEM-degree option or STEM concentration to apply for the 24-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension.

Why is the STEM designation valuable, and to whom?

The STEM designation is most beneficial for international students who want to remain in the United States to work after graduation. The designation allows those students to apply for an extension to their Optional Practical Training program. This could allow for up to 36 months of F-1 visa validity — as opposed to 12 months for traditional OPT — if a graduate’s employment meets specific criteria. Please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars Services at for detailed information and assistance on OPT.

The STEM designation can also be helpful for domestic students who are interested in particular MS degrees or MBA concentrations that have an emphasis on technical skills.

I graduated, or will graduate, from an MBA or master’s program prior to the fall 2023 term. Does the STEM designation apply to my degree?

The STEM designation is effective for MBA graduates enrolled in the fall 2023 term forward who have completed the STEM-designated degree requirements. If you are scheduled to graduate in Summer 2023 and would like to see if you are eligible to graduate under a STEM designation in the fall, please speak with your advisor ASAP.

For our other specialized master’s programs, the STEM designation is already in effect.

I’m a current MBA or master’s program student, but I’m not an international student. What advantage does the STEM designation offer me?

In today’s business world, STEM skills are sought after as companies search for leaders with the knowledge and business acumen to transform industry through data-driven decision-making. LeBow’s STEM-designated graduate degrees and MBA concentrations offer a comprehensive business education through a blend of interdisciplinary technical, quantitative and professional skills with the added benefit of participating in unique experiential learning opportunities.

By encouraging students to step outside of their disciplines and utilize academic theory and technical ability to solve real-world business challenges from the start, LeBow’s graduate STEM programs ensure students have the experience needed to adapt to and lead in the inevitable technological changes in the fast-paced business environment. Also boasting a diverse student body and supportive international student services, LeBow helps students innovate across industries and the world.

The STEM designation may also be helpful to students seeking employment overseas or in international organizations, as STEM designations are prized in many international contexts.

What else do I need to know about the STEM degree?

Since the percentage of STEM-designated courses in graduate programs is highly regulated, students completing a STEM degree option may not have course substitutions or waivers in the degree program.

What are the specific requirements for a STEM OPT extension?

Please review the extensive info on the Drexel ISSS STEM OPT website regarding the STEM OPT extension process. Your employment must be directly related to the STEM field of study (i.e., your degree or MBA concentration).

How do I apply for a 24-month OPT extension?

F-1 students can apply for a 24-month Optional Practical Training (OPT) extension if they:

  • Earned a STEM degree,
  • Are employed by employers enrolled in the E-Verify system, and
  • Have received an initial approval of Post-Completion Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment authorization related to such a degree.

Students must apply for the 24-month OPT extension prior to the expiration of their Post-Completion OPT. United States Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS) accept 24-month OPT extension applications as early as 120 days before the expiration of a Post-Completion OPT.

How quickly can I apply for a STEM OPT extension?

The Office of International Services can help you know when you’re able to apply.

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Please contact the Office of International Students and Scholars Services for more information.

International Students and Scholars Services (ISSS)