Shorelight helps international students attend top universities in the U.S.
Shorelight helps international students attend top universities in the U.S.

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Which STEM Majors Can Help Me with OPT?

For an international student, majoring in STEM can help build your long-term career in the US and improve your chances when applying for OPT.

Two students sitting a lecture hall while looking at a laptop, with three other students seated behind them.

For many international students aspiring to work in the US, pursuing a degree in STEM can be one of the best pathways to a long-term career and a way to gain valuable skills that top employers seek out. 

According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, between 2016 and 2022, STEM-related jobs in the US are expected to increase by 10.8%. So, choosing to major in STEM (aka degrees in the field of science, technology, engineering, and math) opens many doors to career opportunities in the US—or anywhere else in the world. 

In addition to having increasing job opportunities, F-1 students in the US who are STEM majors may also take advantage of programs to extend their stay in America. For example, international students who pursue a STEM degree are eligible for Optional Practical Training (OPT) employment, which allows them to work in the US for up to 12 months. An added advantage of being a STEM major is that international students can then request to extend their OPT for 24 months. (To truly gain a competitive edge here, remember to also hone your soft skills to become a well-rounded STEM major.)

So, if you want to pursue OPT after graduation, getting a STEM degree can be a smart decision. But with many different STEM fields and degrees to choose from, it can be challenging to decide exactly which STEM major is right for you. To get informed, read on for a list of STEM majors eligible for work authorization at our partner universities.

STEM majors at US universities

Adelphi University

Adelphi University, located in Garden City, New York, is a research university with a focus on STEM. It is also in the top 20% of the safest universities in the US, according to Niche. Here are the STEM majors available to Adelphi students:

  • Biochemistry

  • Biology

  • Chemistry

  • Computer Science

  • Economics

  • Information Systems

  • Mathematics

  • Mathematics and Computer Science

  • Neuroscience

  • Physics

  • Psychology

Auburn University 

When you choose a STEM major at Auburn University, you can get a degree in:

  • Aerospace Engineering

  • Agricultural Business & Economics

  • Agricultural Communications

  • Agricultural Science

  • Animal Sciences—Animal and Allied Industries Option

  • Animal Sciences—Meat Science Option

  • Animal Sciences—Pre-Vet/Pre-Professional Option

  • Applied Biotechnology

  • Applied Mathematics

  • Applied Mathematics—Actuarial Science Option

  • Applied Mathematics—Discrete and Statistical Sciences Option

  • Biochemistry

  • Biomedical Sciences

  • Biosystems Engineering

  • Biosystems Engineering—Bioprocess Option

  • Biosystems Engineering—Ecological Engineering Option

  • Biosystems Engineering—Forest Engineering Option

  • Chemical Engineering

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Science

  • Crop & Soil Sciences—Production Option

  • Crop & Soil Sciences—Science Option

  • Crop & Soil Sciences—Soil, Water, & Land Use Option

  • Crop & Soil Sciences—Turfgrass Management Option

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Environmental Science

  • Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences—Fisheries Management Option

  • Fisheries, Aquaculture, and Aquatic Sciences—Marine Resources Option

  • Fisheries and Allied Aquacultures—Pre-Professional Option

  • Food Science

  • Forestry

  • Geography

  • Geology

  • Geology—Earth System Science Option

  • Geospatial and Environmental Informatics

  • Horticulture—Fruit & Vegetable Production Emphasis

  • Horticulture—Landscape Horticulture Emphasis

  • Horticulture—Nursery & Greenhouse Science Emphasis

  • Horticulture—Pre-Landscape Architecture Emphasis

  • Industrial & Systems Engineering

  • Laboratory Sciences

  • Marine Biology

  • Materials Engineering

  • Mathematics

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Medical Technology

  • Microbial, Cellular, & Molecular Biology—Microbiology Option

  • Microbial, Cellular, & Molecular Biology—Cell & Molecular Biology Option

  • Natural Resources Management

  • Neuroscience

  • Organismal Biology—Conservation & Biodiversity Option

  • Organismal Biology—Ecology, Evolution, & Behavior Option

  • Organismal Biology—Integrative Biology Option

  • Physics

  • Poultry Science—Poultry Production

  • Poultry Science—Pre-Vet/Pre-Professional Option

  • Software Engineering

  • Sustainable Biomaterials Packaging

  • Wildlife Ecology & Management

  • Wireless Engineering—Hardware Option

  • Wireless Engineering—Software Option

Louisiana State University

Louisiana State University (LSU) is a top-100 public university in Baton Rouge, Louisiana. According to U.S. News & World Report, LSU’s Petroleum Engineering program is ranked #3. Here are the STEM majors available to international students at LSU: 

  • Agricultural Pest Management/Entomology

  • Agricultural Pest Management/Plant Pathology

  • Animal Science

  • Applied Coastal Environmental Science

  • Astronomy

  • Biochemistry

  • Biological Chemistry

  • Biological Engineering

  • Biological Sciences

  • Chemical Engineering (biomolecular, environmental, materials)

  • Chemical Physics

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Science

  • Cloud Computing and Networking

  • Coastal Environmental Science

  • Conservation Biology

  • Construction Management

  • Crop Science

  • Dairy Foods Technology

  • Dairy Production

  • Data Science and Analytics

  • Dietetics

  • Ecological Restoration

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Environmental Chemistry

  • Environmental Engineering

  • Environmental Geology

  • Environmental Health

  • Environmental Science and Research

  • Fisheries and Aquaculture

  • Food Science and Technology

  • Forest Enterprise

  • Forest Resource Management

  • Geophysics

  • Horticulture Science

  • Industrial Engineering

  • Marine Biology

  • Materials

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Medical Physics

  • Microbiology

  • Nutrition, Health, and Society

  • Nutritional Sciences/Pre-Medicine

  • Petroleum Engineering

  • Physics

  • Polymers

  • Poultry Science

  • Pre-Professional Chemistry

  • Pre-Veterinary Medicine—Animal Sciences

  • Pre-Veterinary Medicine—Wildlife and Fisheries

  • Science and Technology

  • Soil Science

  • Software Engineering

  • Sustainable Production Systems

  • Wildlife Ecology

  • Wildlife Habitat Conservation

University of Central Florida

The University of Central Florida (UCF) has a diverse student body representing more than 150 countries. With top-ranked STEM programs, UCF alumni are often hired at global companies such as Lockheed Martin and Siemens Energy.

Here are the possibilities for STEM majors at UCF: 

  • Actuarial Science

  • Aerospace Engineering

  • Biology Tracks: Zoology & Pre-Veterinarian Science, Plant Sciences, Pre-Health Professional, General Biology, Marine & Aquatic, and Ecology, Evolutionary, & Conservation

  • Biomedical Sciences Tracks: Molecular Microbiology, Neuroscience, and Molecular Cell Biology

  • Biotechnology

  • Chemistry Tracks: Biochemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Communication Sciences and Disorders

  • Computer Engineering Tracks: Comprehensive, Digital VLSI Circuits

  • Computer Sciences

  • Construction Engineering

  • Electrical Engineering Tracks: Power & Renewable Energy, RF & Microwaves, Communication & Signal Processing

  • Environmental Engineering

  • Forensic Science Tracks: Biochemistry, Chemistry

  • Health Sciences Tracks: Health Promotion and Pre-Clinical

  • Industrial Engineering

  • Information Technology

  • Kinesiology Tracks: Exercise & Sport Physiology and Sport & Athletic Coaching

  • Materials Science and Engineering

  • Mathematics Tracks: General Mathematics, Mathematical Biology, Mathematical Economics, Computational, Engineering/Physics

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Medical Laboratory Sciences

  • Photonic Science and Engineering

  • Physics Concentrations: Technical Writing, Nanoscale Science & Technology, Education, Information Technology/Data Science, Biophysics

  • Physics Tracks: Materials, Optics & Lasers, Computational, Astronomy

  • Psychology

  • Statistics

University of Dayton

The University of Dayton, located in Dayton, Ohio, offers many top-ranked programs in STEM. According to U.S. News & World Report, their graduate engineering program is ranked #47. If you attend the University of Dayton, here are the STEM majors you could choose from: 

  • Applied Mathematical Economics

  • Biochemistry

  • Biology

  • Chemical Engineering

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Information Systems

  • Computer Science

  • Economics

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Electronic & Computer Engineering Technology

  • Environmental Biology

  • Environmental Geology

  • Geology

  • Global Manufacturing Systems Engineering Technology

  • Industrial Engineering Technology

  • Mathematics

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Mechanical Engineering Technology

  • Medicinal—Pharmaceutical Chemistry

  • Physical Science

  • Physics

  • Physics—Computer Science

  • Psychology

University of Illinois at Chicago

The University of Illinois at Chicago (UIC) is ranked #75 in Undergraduate Engineering, according to U.S. News & World Report. More than 500 organizations have hired 25,000 UIC engineering students in the past two years. Here are the possibilities to study STEM at UIC: 

  • Biochemistry

  • Bioengineering

  • Biological Sciences (Concentrations: General Biology; Molecular, Cellular, and Organismal Biology)

  • Chemical Engineering

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Science (Concentrations: Computer Systems, Human Centered Computing, Software Engineering)

  • Disability & Human Development

  • Earth and Environmental Sciences

  • Economics

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Engineering Management

  • Engineering Physics

  • Industrial Engineering

  • Kinesiology (Concentrations: Exercise; Science & Health Promotion; Movement Science)

  • Mathematics

  • Mathematics & Computer Science

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Neuroscience

  • Physics

  • Psychology (Concentrations: Applied, General)

  • Rehabilitation Sciences

  • Statistics (Concentrations: Applied Statistics, Statistical Theory & Methods)

University of Kansas

Located in Lawrence, Kansas, the University of Kansas (KU) is a top-200 public university dedicated to research. KU’s Undergraduate Engineering program is ranked #93 by U.S. News & World Report. If you study STEM at KU, here are the degree programs available: 

  • Aerospace Engineering

  • Applied Behavioral Science

  • Architectural Engineering

  • Astrobiology (minor)

  • Astronomy

  • Atmospheric Science

  • Behavioral Neuroscience

  • Biological Sciences

  • Biotechnology

  • Chemical Engineering

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Clinical Laboratory Science

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Science

  • Economics

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Engineering Physics

  • Geology

  • Health Information Management

  • Information Technology

  • Interdisciplinary Computing

  • Mathematics

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Petroleum Engineering

  • Pharmaceutical Studies

  • Physics

  • Psychology

  • Respiratory Care

University of the Pacific 

The University of the Pacific is ranked #52 for their Undergraduate Engineering program, according to U.S. News & World Report. You can choose from a variety of STEM majors:

  • Actuarial Science

  • Applied Mathematics

  • Biochemistry

  • Bioengineering

  • Biological Studies

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Science

  • Economics

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Engineering Management

  • Engineering Physics

  • Geological Use & Environmental Sciences

  • Health, Exercise, & Sport Sciences—Health Exercise Science

  • Health, Exercise, & Sport Sciences—Sport Management

  • Health, Exercise, & Sport Sciences—Sport Pedagogy

  • Mathematics

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Physics

  • Psychology

University of South Carolina

University of South Carolina (UofSC) is a top-tier research university with more than 350 degree programs. According to U.S. News & World Report, UofSC’s Computer Engineering program is ranked #93. If you would like to study STEM at UofSC, here are the degree programs:

  • Aerospace Engineering

  • Biochemistry and Molecular Biology

  • Biological Sciences

  • Biomedical Engineering

  • Cardiovascular Technology

  • Chemical Engineering

  • Chemistry

  • Civil and Environmental Engineering

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Information Systems

  • Computer Science

  • Economics

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Geological Sciences

  • Geophysics

  • Integrated Information Technology

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Marine Science

  • Mathematics

  • Pharmaceutical Sciences

  • Physics

  • Psychology

  • Statistics

University of Utah

The University of Utah is a top-100 public school located in Salt Lake City. According to U.S. News & World Report, their undergraduate engineering program is ranked #61. Choose from the following STEM majors at the University of Utah: 

  • Applied Mathematics

  • Atmospheric Sciences

  • Biology

  • Biomedical Engineering

  • Chemical Engineering

  • Chemistry

  • Civil Engineering

  • Computer Engineering

  • Computer Science

  • Construction Engineering

  • Economics

  • Electrical Engineering

  • Engineering

  • Geological Engineering

  • Geoscience

  • Material Science & Engineering

  • Mathematics

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Metallurgical Engineering

  • Mining Engineering

  • Physics

  • Psychology

With all of these STEM options to consider, take some time to think about what you enjoy most and the types of careers you would find fulfilling. Additionally, you can always speak with a trusted advisor who can help you focus and make the best decision for you and your goals. 

No matter which STEM major you choose, as an international student, you will be making a smart decision for your future: pursuing a career in STEM is highly rewarding, whether you decide to work in the US or anywhere in the world. 

Talk to a Shorelight advisor about academic support for international students >