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Beginning in Fall 2018, the Master of Science in Finance degree (MSF) offered by SMU’s Cox School of Business will be STEM-designated. The University’s Board of Trustees approved changes to the program curriculum and the request to change the classification of instructional programs (CIP) code at its December 2017 meeting.
Based on these changes, the program now falls under fields of study considered to be science, technology, engineering and math (STEM). The U.S. government considers expertise in these fields an important driver of innovation and job creation.
According to the U.S. Department of Homeland Security, the country is currently facing a shortage of qualified candidates for STEM jobs. As a result, international students completing STEM-designated programs in the United States are encouraged to stay after graduation and contribute their knowledge and skill while gaining work experience related to their field of study.
“The new STEM designation is a strong signal to potential employers of the strong quantitative content of the Cox MSF program,” said program director Mukunthan Santhanakrishnan. “Furthermore, this makes it easier for international students on student visas to get additional years of work experience in the U.S., making them more valuable when they return to their home countries. The net result is that our program will be attractive to prospective students (both domestic and international).”
In order to qualify for the STEM designation, Santhanakrishnan and Cox Finance Department faculty members worked to bring the MSF curriculum more in line with STEM requirements. The MSF curriculum, which has been taught since 2012, included elements of financial mathematics, but STEM content has now been strengthened with additional math-focused classes and statistics content to better prepare students for careers in finance profession. The University’s Educational Programs Committee and the University Provost approved the STEM designation under the financial mathematics category, and the Board of Trustees made it official.
“The STEM designation helps signal the quantitative rigor of the program to the market,” said SMU Cox Distinguished Chair in Finance James Linck. “It will help us recruit more high-quality students from diverse backgrounds, and will be attractive to potential employers, improving our student’s placement prospects.”
International student Jason Panxing Qiao, who plans a career in the financial services industry, completed his BBA with a finance major and a math minor from St. Louis University in May 2017. He will begin pursuing his MSF degree at SMU Cox in Dallas in Fall 2018. The timing of the new STEM designation is ideal for soon-to-be students like him.
“When I heard the news, it confirmed my feeling that I was making the right business school choice for my graduate work in finance. I’m pleased to have been accepted into the SMU Cox MSF program and I look forward to starting classes in fall 2018.”
Students who will begin the SMU Cox MSF program or continue it in August 2018 will be eligible to apply for the STEM OPT (Optional Practical Training) Extension through the Department of Homeland Security. This extension allows them to work in the United States for an additional 24 months. The standard OPT period is 12 months, which means the STEM extension brings the total length of OPT time such students may be granted to 36 months.