How do you make yourself stand out in a crowd of 5,000 applicants? If you’re planning on attending Northwestern Polytechnic University (NPU) or another Bay Area university this year, you might want to consider studying science, technology, engineering, or math (STEM). To make the odds of landing a spot at an elite school more favorable, universities are reserving seats for STEM students.
NPU will be limiting admission to prospective freshmen who major in computer science or engineering this year, allowing only 200 spots for other degree fields, including business and mathematics. That’s because applicants with STEM backgrounds tend to have higher GPAs and test scores.
A few miles away, at San Jose State University (SJSU), some 150 students will be the first to get a bachelor’s degree in data science and analytics this fall. Each year, an additional 100 spots will open up for new applicants until SJSU reaches its goal of graduating 1,000 data scientists every year.
Silicon Valley Drives Demand for STEM Graduates
The supply and demand for bachelor’s degree holders with a background in science, technology, engineering, or math have never been higher. With 61 percent of U.S. jobs requiring at least some knowledge of the STEM fields, the demand for these graduates is especially high right now.
Many companies are looking to expand their service lines with the help of science and maths graduates. For example, Thermo Fisher Scientific, a Massachusetts-based biotech company, is looking for chemistry students to work in its microbiology department. Other STEM grads are needed by Apple, Facebook, Google, and Microsoft.
Demand is especially high for data scientists trained to collect and interpret large amounts of data. Facebook, for example, is looking to double its 200-person data science team by the end of 2016 as more consumers use social media as their main source of news.
These tech companies are giving universities a reason to reserve seats just for STEM students. As a result, these students have a greater chance of being accepted into exclusive programs and an impressive starting salary.
Tech companies aren’t the only ones after STEM graduates. Data from the Bureau of Labor Statistics shows that 10 out of 30 occupations with the highest levels of job growth between 2012 and 2022 are in STEM fields. The BLS reports that 4 million jobs in these fields will be created by 2022. As a result, a growing number of universities are adapting to keep up with the high demand.
NPU, for instance, focuses on training students in computer science and engineering through project-based courses. The school also works with local businesses to get students hands-on experience solving real problems.
SJSU’s new data science program is designed to be similar to a traditional major, except it includes a concentration in math and statistics. Students will learn how to collect, organize, analyze and report on large sets of data. The original version of the program began as a master’s degree program under SJSU’s College of Science.
STEM graduates make up a small but growing percentage of the job market. If you’re planning to enter this pool of applicants, consider that university and hiring companies to work hard to fill their specific science and math needs. Whether you want to work on Wall Street or Main Street, STEM degrees can give you an edge over the competition.