What is STEM?: Your 4-Minute Guide

STEM stands for science, technology, engineering, and math. Students and professionals in these fields focus on critical thinking, problem-solving, innovation, and similar skills. If STEM sounds interesting to you or you want to know more about what these fields entail, keep reading!

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What is STEM?

STEM refers to study in one or more fields: science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. These can include things like computer science, biology, earth science, statistics, mechanical engineering, and more. 


STEAM, although similar, is not the same thing as STEM. STEAM includes the study of art and embraces both hard and soft approaches to education. As a result, students can potentially use technology, math, art, science, and engineering together. 

What Does STEM Curriculum Include?

Science, technology, engineering, and math curriculum can include any classes, lessons, and courses that focus on one or more of the four fields. It may or may not include labs and hand on practical learning depending on the coursework.  

There is some debate over what majors and career fields fall under STEM, too. For example, nursing is not a STEM field even though it can require a focus on math and science. Architecture, which some would consider more of an art area of study (and therefore fall under STEAM), was recently added to the list of STEM careers by the United States government.

Why is STEM Important?

STEM-related jobs are often in high demand, so teaching students about these four fields can prove extremely beneficial to communities and society as a whole. This is especially true as technology continues to evolve and we need experts who understand how to best use these tools. They’re often referred to as “tomorrow’s jobs” for a reason!

Students who study STEM fields or show interest in a related career can also increase their chances of being accepted into college or winning scholarships.

Should You Major in STEM?

It’s not for everyone, and that’s okay! But if these courses or a career in STEM sounds interesting to you, you might just want to major in it.

You should consider a STEM major if:

  • You have excellent math skills and understand high-level concepts
  • You enjoy using computers 
  • You’re interested in the newest and latest in technology
  • You want to aim for a higher potential income

However, it is important to note here that some related programs will be tougher to get into in relation to other majors. Many colleges and universities that offer engineering programs, for example, will have separate applications for the major. While you may be accepted to the school, you could receive a rejection letter to the engineering program. A stellar application is needed to ensure you stand out among the competition in these cases.

Benefits of STEM

STEM brings a number of benefits to the table for students and professionals including:

1. Encourages Problem-Solving

STEM courses often are based in solving problems, which is an amazing skill to have in any field. This in turn can lead to innovation, new ideas, creativity, and advances in just about any field of work. Critical thinking is necessary in many careers and in life in general!

2. Embraces Failure

Failure on paper may not sound great, but we learn from failures. In STEM courses, students have the opportunity to try new things, fail, and learn from it! Then when they approach the problem again, they can do so from a different angle. This encourages experimentation, risk-taking, adaptation, and more in learning.

3. Promotes Teamwork

Some courses and programs involve labs that may require partners or groups. Students will learn to work together to achieve goals, develop presentations, and collaborate with efficiency.

4. Improves Understanding of Technology

These classes also promote learning of technology. From learning to repair computers to elevating research skills, students can apply the lessons they learn in these fields to a number of other majors and careers. Classes can offer real-life skills with computers, lab equipment, software, hardware, and more.

STEM is already part of our education system with math, science, and technology courses, but students can take their education further by majoring in a related field. These jobs are in high demand and will continue to be so as long as technology continues to evolve! They can lead to a number of benefits, too, even if you don’t major in a STEM-related course from improved problem-solving skills to the ability to work with others effectively.

Sound interesting to you? Our Major Search tool can help you identify the best area of study for your interests and goals! Make sure to use our Career Finder, too, to then find the best career for your passions and major after graduation!