The School of Management’s (SOM) master of business administration program recently earned a STEM designation from the Department of Homeland Security (DHS).

MBA students are currently required to take a minimum of 20 credits to concentrate in business analytics and 16 credits for other concentrations. These credits include various technical electives that vary based on the student’s focus. The range of concentrations include business analytics, finance, leadership and consulting, management information systems, marketing and supply chain management.

To be certified as a STEM program, an academic curriculum must have at least 50 percent of its coursework relate to math and technology through quantitative and management sciences. Every SOM MBA program now falls under the STEM umbrella.

According to Anthony Borelli, SOM’s communications manager, the curriculum changes were approved by SOM leadership, Binghamton University administration, SUNY and New York state. The program then went through a separate review process in order to change its status to a STEM-designated program, after the curricular changes received final approval.

Shelly Dionne, the dean of SOM, expressed her approval of the new opportunities for MBA students to advance their knowledge of technology and data analysis in business.

“This is wonderful news for SOM and even more exciting news for our exceptional students,” Dionne said. “Data and technology are at the forefront of business, and this designation will help SOM students become even more competitive for a wider range of job opportunities in cutting-edge fields.”

The STEM designation for degrees is commonly assigned by Department of Homeland Security through the amended Immigration and Nationality Act of 1952, which gives the department “broad authority to administer and enforce the nation’s immigration laws.” STEM programs in higher education are under their jurisdiction, because they affect the immigration status of international students.

International students granted F-1 visas, which allow them to be full-time students in the United States while holding nonimmigrant status, normally have 12 months of optional practical training (OPT) once a degree program is completed. OPT allows them to work in the United States and gain experience in their fields. If a degree has a STEM designation, F-1 visa-holding students can apply to extend the OPT period by 24 months. The recent update to the STEM Designated Degree List also includes landscape architecture, developmental and adolescent psychology, geospatial intelligence and linguistics and computer science.

Borelli explained the reasons why the program was updated to reflect the changing landscape of business, specifically improving the data analysis skills of students.

“The school revamped its curriculum in response to a dramatic increase in the data available for making business decisions,” Borelli wrote in an email. “The faculty believes that the curricular changes will enhance the program for domestic and international students by providing them with the knowledge and skills necessary to utilize this data to its full potential. However, the achievement of a STEM designation was a specific goal since it offers a significant benefit to international students who make an important contribution to the diversity of [BU].”

Mark Reilly, a first-year graduate student in the 4+1 MBA program, described his experience in the program, and how more scientific fields, like artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning (ML), are integrated into the curriculum.

“The technical courses I am currently taking are IT Security and Forensics and Machine Learning and AI Marketing Strategy,” Reilly wrote. “The IT class has been somewhat useful as it emphasizes training employees on how to maintain network security and prevent potential cyber-attacks. The ML [and] AI class has been very beneficial as the professor — Debi Mishra, [an associate professor in SOM] — provides an encompassing view as to how different forms of ML [and] AI are utilized by businesses currently, and how they will be used in the future. He also provides insights as to how marketers with some technical knowledge are better equipped to work alongside engineers and more technically minded people than those with a more limited understanding.”