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Update to the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List

On July 12, 2023, the U.S. Department of Homeland Security (DHS) updated the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List (“STEM List”) by adding eight qualifying fields of study and a corresponding U.S. Department of Education Classification of Instructional Programs (“CIP”) code for each.

What is the STEM List?

The STEM List is a complete list of fields of study that DHS designates as science, technology, engineering, or mathematics (STEM) fields of study for purposes of the 24-month STEM optional practical training (OPT) extension.

The STEM List is used to determine whether a degree obtained by certain F-1 nonimmigrant students qualifies as a STEM degree. If it qualifies, such F-1 students are eligible to apply for a 24-months extension of their post-completion OPT of which duration is normally 12 months.

Here is the link for the most recent STEM List.

How Can I Find Whether My Degree Qualifies as a STEM Degree?

DHS uses CIP codes to identify the STEM degrees that are eligible for the 24-months STEM OPT extension. CIP code is a numerical taxonomy developed by the U.S. Department of Education. It is used to categorize and report on fields of study offered by educational institutions. You can find your CIP code on the first page of your Form I-20 (the Program of Study section, Major 1).

Core STEM Fields

DHS has designated the following four areas as core STEM fields:

  • Engineering
  • Biological sciences
  • Mathematics, and
  • Physical sciences

Accordingly, DHS lists these four areas at the two-digit CIP code level on the STEM List as follows:

  • Engineering (14)
  • Biological and Biomedical Sciences (26)
  • Mathematics and Statistics (27)
  • Physical Sciences (40)

As the above four areas are core STEM fields, any new additions to the areas are automatically included on the STEM List. If your CIP code (two-digit level) is one of the above four CIP codes, you qualify for the 24-months STEM OPT extension.

STEM-Related Fields

Additionally, DHS has designated the following field as STEM-related field and listed them on the STEM List at the six-digit subcategory level:

  • A related field, including fields involving research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences).

Accordingly, DHS has designated STEM-related fields from the following CIP code series at the six-digit subcategory level. DHS designates these subcategory fields as STEM-related fields because these specific fields of study were deemed to sufficiently engage students in the core STEM disciplines.

  • Agricultural/Animal/Plant/Veterinary Science and Related Fields (01)
  • Natural Resources and Conservation (03)
  • Architecture and Related Services (04)
  • Communication, Journalism and Related Programs (09)
  • Communications Technologies/Technicians and Support Services (10)
  • Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services (11)
  • Education (13)
  • Engineering/Engineering-Related Technologies/Technicians (15)
  • Military Science, Leadership and Operational Art (28)
  • Military Technologies and Applied Sciences (29)
  • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies (30)
  • Science Technologies/Technicians (41)
  • Psychology (42)
  • Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services (43)
  • Social Sciences (45)
  • Transportation and Materials Moving (49)
  • Health Professions and Related Programs (51)
  • Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services (52)

In the STEM-related field category, your degree might not qualify as a STEM degree even if your CIP code falls into the category at the two-digit level. To determine whether your degree qualifies as a STEM degree, you need to refer to the STEM List to see whether your CIP code at the six-digit level (i.e., 01.0308) is on the list. If it is on the STEM List, you qualify for the 24-months STEM OPT extension.

What New Fields of Study Have been Added to the STEM List?

On July 12, 2023, DHS has added the following new STEM-related fields of study to the STEM List:

  • Landscape Architecture (04.0601): A program that prepares individuals for the independent professional practice of landscape architecture and research in various aspects of the field. Includes instruction in geology and hydrology; soils, groundcovers, and horticultural elements; project and site planning; landscape design, history, and theory; environmental design; applicable law and regulations; and professional responsibilities and standards.
  • Institutional Research (13.0608): A program of study that prepares an individual to be an institutional researcher at a postsecondary educational institution. Includes instruction in data analysis, data-driven decision-making, data mining, higher education administration and organization, research methods, and statistics.
  • Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/Technician (15.0407): A program that prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills in the support of engineers to the design, development, and operational evaluation of autonomous, computer-controlled, electro-mechanical systems. Includes instruction in computer and software engineering, control engineering, electronic and electrical engineering, mechanical engineering, and robotics.
  • Composite Materials Technology/Technician (15.0617): A program of study that prepares individuals to apply basic engineering principles and technical skills in support of engineers and other professionals engaged in the development, manufacture, and use of composite materials in aircraft technology, automotive technology, boats, medical prostheses, and wind turbines. Includes instruction in computer-aided design and drafting, composite materials and processes, composite maintenance, composite manufacturing, composite repair, material science, and mold manufacturing and production.
  • Linguistics and Computer Science (30.4801): A program that focuses on the relationship between computer and human language and computational techniques applied to natural language. Includes instruction in computer programming, human languages, linguistic analysis, logic, natural language processing, semantics, machine learning, psycholinguistics, software engineering, and syntax.
  • Developmental and Adolescent Psychology (42.2710): A program that focuses on the scientific study of the unique stages of psychological growth and development of individuals from adolescence to adulthood. Includes instruction in cognitive and perceptual development, emotional development, personality development, the effects of biological maturation on behavior, theories of cognitive growth and related research methods, testing and assessment methods for different age levels, research on child and adolescent behavior therapy, and the psychology of aging.
  • Geospatial Intelligence (43.0407): A program that prepares individuals to analyze security and intelligence problems using a geographic perspective by relating human actions to cultural, political, economic, social, and physical landscapes. Includes instruction in aerial photography analysis, cartography, geographic information systems (GIS), physical geography, remote sensing, spatial programming, and quantitative methods in geographic research.
  • Demography and Population Studies (45.0501): A program that focuses on the systematic study of population models and population phenomena, and related problems of social structure and behavior. Includes instruction in population growth, spatial distribution, mortality and fertility factors, migration, dynamic population modeling, population estimation and projection, mathematical and statistical analysis of population data, population policy studies, and applications to problems in economics and government planning.

In designating the above new fields of study, DHS states that the new fields of study are comprised of STEM disciplines such as research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, physical sciences, and computer science. 

Here is the link for the notice by DHS on the recent update to the STEM List.


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