What Should I Look for in a STEM Degree Program?

As you begin narrowing down your college selection, it’s important to consider what you should look for in a STEM degree program. Just a few factors to consider include the choices of majors available, the research opportunities you can take part in, the school’s rankings and awards and the size of the institution and STEM degree programs.

Academic Offerings

Perhaps the most important thing you should look for in a STEM degree program is a variety of majors. STEM isn’t a single program of study. Instead, it’s a cluster of degree programs, including all kinds of different majors in the fields of science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Do some research into which educational path is likely to be the best fit for you, and make sure that any school you’re considering offers a program that matches your goals.

Research Opportunities

The chance to participate in important research opportunities is another thing you should look for in a STEM degree program. After all, your studies are all about the scientific method and learning the equations and calculations needed to expand knowledge. What good are all of these concepts if you don’t get the opportunity to apply them to real – and innovative – research?

Not all schools that have STEM degree programs offer research opportunities for undergraduate students – but some of the best programs include a variety of cutting-edge research institutes and projects.

Recognition and Reputation

A strong reputation is another thing you should look for in a STEM degree program. While a list of awards and rankings can’t tell you everything you need to know about the school or about your STEM curriculum, this data can help you get a feel for how people outside your organization view your school – and how impressed they’re likely to be by your degree.

Despite some assertions that it’s what you study, not where you study, that matters in STEM, the truth is that it’s most likely a combination of both factors. The difference in future salary – and even college dropout rate – may not be as significant in STEM subjects as in other disciplines, but these differences still exist, TIME’S MONEY Magazine reported.

You don’t have to get into a super selective school or take out huge amounts of debt to afford an unusually expensive college to get a good STEM education. Just be aware of the school’s rankings and recognition. In particular, colleges with better reputations may offer better opportunities in terms of co-op learning programs and garner more attention from researchers at top STEM companies.

Program Size and Class Sizes

Do you have to get lost in a crowd of students just to earn an in-demand STEM degree? You might be surprised to learn that many top STEM colleges have a total undergraduate population of less than 4,000 students. Their small size is often a benefit, because it allows the school to keep classes small and gives instructors the opportunity to offer individual attention to help students gain the most from their studies.

It may seem that there are a lot of things to look for in a STEM degree program, but with a little research, you can find a program that offers all of these advantages and more.

Related resource:

30 Great Small Colleges for STEM Degrees

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