The U.S. Department of Homeland Security published a final rule today, updating the STEM Designated Degree Program List to add the following 22 additional qualifying fields of study:  

1. Bioenergy (03.0210)
2. Forestry, General (03.0501)
3. Forest Resources Production and Management (03.0510)
4. Human-Centered Technology Design (11.0105)
5. Cloud Computing (11.0902)
6. Anthrozoology (30.3401)
7. Climate Science (30.3501)
8. Earth Systems Science (30.3801)
9. Economics and Computer Science (30.3901)
10. Environmental Geosciences (30.4101)
11. Geobiology (30.4301)
12. Geography and Environmental Studies (30.4401)
13. Mathematical Economics (30.4901)
14. Mathematics and Atmospheric/Oceanic Science (30.5001)
15. Data Science, General (30.7001)
16. Data Analytics, General (30.7101)
17. Business Analytics (30.7102)
18. Data Visualization (30.7103)
19. Financial Analytics (30.7104)
20. Data Analytics, Other (30.7199)
21. Industrial and Organizational Psychology (42.2804)
22. Social Sciences, Research Methodology and Quantitative Methods (45.0102)

The fields will allow students who have completed or will complete programs of study in those fields to potentially apply for STEM OPT. Students who completed degrees in these fields years ago when those fields were not STEM-eligible should re-examine whether they may be able to obtain STEM OPT based on the prior degree, given this change. The regulations allow students to use a prior STEM degree as the basis of the STEM OPT extension, even if the student’s current degree is not a qualifying STEM degree. In such a scenario, the prior, qualifying STEM degree must have been conferred within ten years before the DSO recommends the 24-month STEM OPT extension.

Unfortunately, the healthcare professions were again largely left out of the STEM OPT list, even though most of them fall squarely in the sciences, involving biology, biomedical sciences, etc. This exclusion also occurs during a global pandemic and represents another missed opportunity from the Biden Administration. 

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