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STEM Designations

What is STEM designation?

Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics (STEM) fields are essential to U.S. economic competitiveness and growth.

Over the last several decades the country has experienced a significant shortage of qualified workers for employment in STEM fields. Increasingly, businesses have to hire international workers to meet their needs. Therefore, STEM designated educational programs make it possible for international graduates to remain stateside longer to not only establish their careers but also to help meet the demand for STEM-educated professionals.

UConn’s STEM designated programs, and their related initiatives, also play an important role in Next Generation CT, a state legislation passed into law and signed by the governor, that will invest over $1.5 billion dollars in UConn over the next 10 years.

How does this help students?

Under the traditional OPT program, international students who graduate from colleges and universities in the U.S. are able to remain in the country and receive training through work experience for up to 12 months. Students who graduate from a designated STEM degree program can remain for an additional time on an OPT STEM Extension.

STEM graduates are essential to U.S. economic competitiveness and growth and in short supply. This OPT extension makes it attractive to businesses to hire international students.

Which programs are eligible?


MSBAPM international students can qualify for a 17-month OPT (Optional Practical Training) Extension making it a full 29 months of OPT.

Katherin Duncan, Graduate Career Advisor, states that “UConn’s STEM education equips students to drive innovation, creativity, and advancements in virtually every industry. In turn they are helping to increase domestic and global economic success! The workforce is growing in this field and our students will be entering a challenging and rewarding career!”


The STEM OPT has been lengthened from 17 months to 24 months,  which allows for two lifetime STEM OPT extensions instead of one.  Students will be able to stay in the United States for an additional 24 months post-graduation to participate in on-the-job training within the STEM field. Taken in addition to the 12 months that all programs provide, FRM Students will enjoy 36 months (3 years) of OPT.

The State of Connecticut’s Office of Higher Education granted STEM designation for UConn’s MS degree in Financial Risk Management (MSFRM). Under the new STEM classification, MSFRM international students can now qualify for a 24-month OPT (Optional Practical Training) Extension making it a full 36 months of OPT.

MBA Concentrations

The State of Connecticut’s Office of Higher Education granted STEM designation for UConn’s three quantitative tracks in the Full-time MBA Program:

This qualifies students here studying on a visa to be eligible for 36 months of OPT (Optional Practical Training), rather than the usual 12 months, provided all other eligibility criteria are met.