Studying STEM

A mother wrote to me: “My son is in the 12th grade. I would like to send him to study STEM in the U.S. next year. But I do not know which STEM is good for him and easy for him to get a job after graduation. Please advise.”

Answer: Science, Technology, Engineering, and Math (STEM) is extensive areas consist of several fields of study. Your son should select a particular field that he wants to study. Your family and your son need to discuss the future career as soon as possible because selecting the “wrong field” or an “Easy to get in field” may not help him to get a job. (I do not know whether he will be looking for a job in the U.S. or returning home. If he wants to work in the U.S., he will need to find the field of study that is in high demand and meet the qualification of the H1B visa.)

My advice is your son should look closely to each field within STEM to determine the different types of degrees needed (BS, MS, or Ph.D.), salary data, employment opportunity, etc. He will need to select a field of study that is suitable for him because it is his career and his life. Asking or expecting him to study something that he does not like is a wrong idea. There are many career advice in my blog; he should be able to find something there. Following are a list of fields that your son may want to investigate.

Science: Biology, Chemistry, Physics, Geosciences, Atmospheric science, Medical science, Medicine, Nursing and Allied Health. Dentistry, Podiatry, Optometry, Veterinary.

Technology: Computer Science, Software Engineering, Information systems, Managing Information Systems, Medical Technology

Engineering: Aerospace Engineering, Bioengineering, Chemical Engineering, Civil Engineering, Computer Engineering, Electrical and Electronics Engineering, Environmental Engineering, Industrial Engineering, Manufacturing Engineering, Materials Science and Engineering, Mechanical Engineering, Mining Engineering, Nuclear Engineering, Petroleum Engineering.

Mathematics: Mathematics, Actuarial Science, and Statistics.


  • Blogs of Prof. John Vu, Carnegie Mellon University