MSDS, MSIS, MSBA: STEM or non-STEM?

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Yocket Editorial Team

Updated on Apr 30, 2021

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The burning question that is currently on everyone’s mind about the new CIP codes 2020 released by the NCES has created huge online havoc on many social media platforms including Yocket Discussions and Yocket Group Chats. The recent changes in the CIP codes for Business Analytics, Data Science and Information Systems have given birth to a new sense of fear in the minds of many aspirants. Are Business Analytics, Data Science and Information Systems stem courses or non-stem courses? Your mind must be processing so many questions right now. So, keep reading this article to get a secret insight into the issue.

CIP codes 2010

The Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) is a code system of instructional programs with the purpose to facilitate the organization, collection, and reporting of fields of study and program completions. The CIP codes are being set by NCES (National Center for Education Statistics) since 1980 and have been revised in a particular fashion starting from 1985 with a 5-year gap till 2000 and a 10-year gap since then. According to CIP codes 2010 which was in effect from 2010 till 2019 December, the courses Business Analytics, Data Science and Information Systems were given code 52.1399, which comes under the STEM category.

CIP codes 2020

The CIP codes which were recently updated in 2020 in which Business Analytics is designated in the category of Data Science. The Business Analytics course is given the 6 digit code of 30.7102, making it a non-STEM course as stated by many universities like UT Dallas, etc. 

After seeing this change many students started to question their choice of opting for Data Science, Business Analytics & Information Systems.

Is there any official confirmation about this?

Some sources like the University of Texas Dallas stated in their website that “there is no reason for students to react to this”. UTD has mentioned that they have requested the ICE (Immigration and Customs Enforcement) to change the CIP codes for Business Analytics back to the old CIP codes for 2010.

Ms. Abhilasha Chitnis, a University Representative of the University of Utah recently quoted, “there is no reason to fear because there was a confirmation mail from ISSS (International Student & Scholar Services) that there isn’t any official news from ICE to change the CIP codes in the university for these particular courses till then the CIP codes 2010 will be followed.”

An official notice has been released to Yocket by Penn State that their Data Analytics and Information Systems courses are still STEM-designated.

Last but not least University of Texas, Dallas has quoted to Yocket, “The MS Business Analytics programs at the University of Texas at Dallas are currently STEM-designated programs. We understand that the new list of CIP codes includes a new classification for business analytics programs. The CIP codes are updated once every ten years and the STEM designations from ICE typically follow the new code listings after some time. The CIP codes have been released, but changes to the STEM-Designated Programs list have not yet been released by the US Government.” To shed more light on this topic they said that the Business Analytics course that is designed by them is completely on the grounds of STEM. UT Dallas has already filed a request to add the new CIP codes to the list and Texas Higher Education also will be filing the same on behalf of all colleges and universities in Texas for nationwide change in the CIP codes. 

Will the students who are going to the US for Fall’20 for Data Science, Business Analytics & Information Systems face the wrath of the new CIP codes?

There’s still a slight confusion in the air regarding this. There’s definitely no confirmation from ICE to change the CIP codes in the university because the STEM-designated courses list of 2020 has not been released yet and hence the old list should be abided. 

What if the request is denied by ICE?

In the worst-case scenario if the request is denied by the ICE to change the CIP code of these courses then UT Dallas stated in their website, “UT Dallas will continue using a STEM Designated CIP code that says “Management Science, Quantitative Methods Other” unless required by either USCIS (the United States Citizenship & Immigration Services) or the THECB (Texas Higher Education Coordinating Board) to make a change to the business analytics code. If either entity requests we transition, it is possible that UT Dallas will explore the STEM-designated code of Business Statistics, CIP 52.1302.”

This essentially means that the courses Business Analytics, Data Science and Information Systems will have a slight change in the coursework which will incline them to the nearest possible CIP code which is considered in the stem category, i.e. Business Statistics, CIP 52.1302 and Other universities are also likely to follow the same.

When will the new stem designated list be released?

There is no official confirmation as stated above but there was an unofficial notification given to the stakeholders informally by DHS during a February 2020 webinar that they expect to update the STEM-designated Program List by the end of summer 2020 as written in the UT Dallas International Center website.

I understand you might still be thinking of a thousand questions at this very moment but the information from many sources suggests to not fear the programs being converted to non-STEM as the universities are streamlined to not let this happen and take away the OPT opportunity from the students.

In the end, after a panel discussion webinar that was hosted by Yocket with panelists from the RIT, SUNY Buffalo and CSU Chico for all the students who still are skeptical about the issue, we can say that the university officials stressed that the students should communicate with the particular universities about the coursework because the STEM designation varies from universities to universities. For instance: MBA in Finance in RIT is a non-STEM course whereas, MBA in Finance in SUNY Buffalo is a STEM program!

So, keep in touch with the university to know about the updates and if the coursework belongs to the STEM or non-STEM category.

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