Science, Technology, Mathematics & Engineering Degrees: What Can I Do with a Degree in Science?

Find your perfect value college is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.
college majors in science, technology, engineering and mathematics are

Outside of obvious choices like finance and law, the most secure and potentially lucrative careers these days are in the STEM field. STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It has been the main concern of the Department of Education from primary to post-graduate schooling in recent years. Our society is increasingly dependent on technology in all quarters, from finance and commerce to entertainment and sports.

There is more demand than ever for highly-trained professionals to keep our computers, biomedical technology, and public infrastructure intact and growing. The STEM field is wide and varied enough that just about anyone can find their niche in a technological world.

Featured Programs

(Check out: Is a Stem Degree a Good Investment? and Woman in STEM: What You Need to Know Before Putting on The Lab Coat)

What is STEM Education and Why is it Important?

Some of the most in-demand majors are the STEM majors. Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics majors are critical to the growth, research, and improvement of individual careers. They’re at the center of the most critical industries in the world.

The STEM education definition is to bring together these majors. They help to have a better understanding of:

  • technological literacy
  • innovation
  • gainful employment

STEM Education in the U.S.

As the need for these programs continues to grow, so does the presence of STEM education in the U.S. Beginning in the K-12 public and private education classrooms, STEM programs are being introduced to students at an earlier age than before. Why? When they pursue higher education, they are on the right path for the available STEM programs.

Pros and Cons of STEM Education

STEM education in the U.S. is essentially thought to be productive and a positive educational area for students who are interacting on digital platforms. Like any field, however, there are Pros and Cons of STEM education. The Pros of STEM programs include:

  • Advocate for women and gender equality
  • Encourages job stability for students in the future
  • Innovative skill set
  • Problem-solving skills
  • Workforce and higher education preparation

Once these students have pursued a degree or program that meets the STEM education definition, they are dedicating themselves to a work environment that promotes equal opportunity and the strongest of skills.

Unfortunately, there are a few cons to be made aware of when reviewing the STEM education definition:

  • STEM programs and careers are not as easily outlined as other careers
  • Students who are not performing as well as their peers early on may find themselves left behind in this field due to the early start
  • The additional pressure placed on gifted students to excel at their highest ability
  • Lack of attention and emphasis on proper communication skills

These students do not have a listed set of set-in-stone skills that are required to pursue these careers. Many of these students display different qualities and strengths as opposed to their peers. Most students are being introduced to the STEM field of study at a much younger age. Those who do not perform early in their childhood are falling behind in this industry. They have to fight much harder to keep up.

Those who are considering the higher education programs available to them are required to maintain a higher academic excellence than their peers in other disciplines. Finally, building skills that are often embraced in humanity areas and business such as communication are not as heavily enforced in STEM programs. This prevents proper communication once these students enter the workforce.

School/Program Accreditation for STEM

The leading STEM programs in colleges and universities across the nation are equipped with ABET accreditation. This accreditation focuses on the curriculum and standards provided by the following programs. It determines that the programs offered to students in these institutions are above standard.

  • Engineering
  • Computer Sciences/Technology
  • Mathematics
  • Sciences

ABET-accredited schools can be found across the nation. They offer programs that fit a variety of formats, including the online options that are growing in popularity. This accreditation program has over 80 years of reviewing and accrediting programs that fall into these study fields. There is respect for this particular accreditation. They also review programs that are at the Associate, Bachelor, and Master level programs in these various disciplines.

Students who graduate from a program with this certification are ready to take on a position in their selected STEM field. They can pursue their career in the U.S. or around the world. .

Based upon the most recent certifications, ABET has accredited over 4,000 programs at the numerous ABET Accredited Schools around the world. Students are able to search these ABET Accredited Schools by discipline and program level. They can determine which STEM program options are available to them and their career goals. Some of the programs available are ABET-accredited online schools. Students receive the same instruction digitally as they do in the classroom at these STEM accredited universities in USA. Many of these students embrace technology at a young age and become proficient. ABET Accredited Schools have found significant benefit in choosing the online format for their programs. It allows these students to have more of a direct focus on their learning outcomes, which benefit them in their careers.

Types of STEM Degrees

Science and technology depends on technicians, from laboratory assistants to nuclear technicians. So the associate degree (AA/AS) is an entry into a lot of middle-class careers. Associate degrees are usually earned through community college Many offer specialized certifications for specific jobs such as:

  • graphic design
  • nuclear technician
  • computer support

(Check out: What is the Benefit of Going to a Community College?)

The bachelor of science degree (BS) is usually the standard for higher-paying professional STEM jobs. It must be earned at the college or university level. STEM bachelor’s are usually 4 year programs, though some may be 5 years. Many universities offer programs such as a 5-year master’s degree in which students work simultaneously toward the BS and MS. The bachelor’s degree is where STEM students further specialize, in preparation for further graduate study or professional careers.

More people are graduating from undergraduate programs than ever before. This means the master’s degree (MS) is becoming a standard for higher-status leadership positions. If you want to manage others, the master’s degree is the way to distinguish yourself in the job market. It is also preferred, though not required, for most public and private secondary teachers. Most master’s degrees take 2-3 years to complete full-time. However, online programs may pack the work into only a year or 18 months.

The Doctor of Philosophy degree (PhD) is not just for philosophers. It is the highest academic degree in most disciplines. It’s usually reserved for those who want to become university professors or researchers. The PhD is research-intensive and can take many years to complete. It requires a high degree of academic discipline and motivation.

There are several types of STEM degrees that vary in program level and discipline.These specific majors list over 100 different programs. However, the most common that are highest in demand are found in the following STEM majors list:

  • Animal Sciences and Biology
  • Chemistry
  • Computer Science and Programming
  • Engineering
  • Environmental Science
  • Information Technology
  • Life Sciences
  • Mathematics
  • Natural Sciences
  • Nursing
  • Physics
  • Statistics

Majors such as engineering can be broken down into the different industrial forms of engineering such as:

  • electrical engineering
  • civil engineering
  • environmental engineering, to name a few.

The best STEM colleges will offer a version of all of these programs. They are the most sought after by students and also in-demand in industries around the globe. In order to qualify as one of the best STEM schools, these programs must also have the ABET accreditation. This ensures the program is what the student needs to be successful in their approaching career.

The best STEM majors include:

  • the natural sciences
  • engineering
  • computer science
  • mathematics

These majors are guaranteed to offer a general set of skills that students will need at the Bachelor and Master levels in order to be successful. Nursing is another STEM major that is gaining national attention. The need for nurses continues to grow in most states. Students are also taking a degree like nursing and cultivating it into another career such as a nurse practitioner.

The best STEM schools are designed with innovation at the center. Their curricula are as diverse as their majors. Skills and disciplines are intertwined to give students the ability to perform in their discipline. Industries are no longer separated under a globalized economy. Gaining skills in a single discipline is no longer enough to meet the demands of future innovation. Some of the most lucrative college majors are derived from STEM programs.

The best STEM colleges according to Forbes extend to universities across the nation. However, the majority of the highest-ranked ones are in the Northeast region. Of the top 25 STEM colleges, the leading institution was Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). These institutions were chosen also because of their graduate success and the employment rate of STEM students.

How Do We Define the Best STEM Majors?

Some of the best STEM majors are the unique degrees available in STEM higher education everywhere. Examples of these programs include:

  • quality control and safety technologies
  • soil microbiology
  • systems science and theory
  • nuclear engineering technology, to name a few.

These programs are specific enough that they make a student marketable to a particular field. Students also master foundational math and science concepts that are essential in all fields.

The best science majors in STEM include:

  • Molecular Physics
  • Biology
  • Animal Sciences
  • Biochemistry

These majors include a variety of math and science concepts to be mastered. Most of the technological degrees focus on computer science, information technology, and other computer essentials such as programming and system building.

The best science bachelor’s master’s degrees will provide students with a foundation in science. They will include elements of technology, engineering, and mathematics so that students can:

  • complete problem-solving and solutions
  • make sound decisions
  • use the concepts they have mastered today to enhance the life quality of tomorrow.

Which Degree Should I Pursue?

If you’re considering a STEM major, one of the biggest questions to consider is the degree level. If you plan on a master’s degree, you should pursue a minimum of a Bachelor degree in science or one of the other STEM majors that fit your career goals.

Have you already earned your bachelor’s degree and still desire to further your education? Consider pursuing a Master degree as opposed to a second Bachelor program. You can choose a Master degree in a similar but different field. This will help market yourself more broadly in your profession. You’ll gain the knowledge to move your career into the next direction.

Online vs. Residential Programs

The relative advantages and disadvantages of online or residential STEM degree programs depend in part on the field and the level of education. In areas such as computer science or mathematics an online degree may be just as effective as, and even preferable to, a residential program. These are more cerebral fields that do not require as much in-person interaction. In others, such as biology or engineering, hands-on experimentation and laboratory practice are essential.

The level of education makes a difference, too. Some STEM undergraduate degrees are barely offered online, as the basic foundations are better taught live. The graduate level can be taught effectively online. Engineering, for example, is rarely taught online at the undergraduate level. But online graduate degrees are common. Many students find online to be more effective at the graduate level, especially those who are already working in their field and have hands-on experience on a day-to-day basis. For these students, the flexibility and convenience of an online program is most helpful.

(Check out: Are Online Degrees a Good Investment?)

When making the choice between online and residential programs, you need to be aware of your personal strengths and weaknesses. If you are self-motivated and comfortable with technology, or who know their field and merely need credentialing, online may be better. Do you need the guidance and support of other students and faculty? Are you still learning the basics? Then a traditional residential program may be the best bet.

Many of the programs found on the STEM majors list are available both on-campus and also online. Students who are working adults are able to take advantage of these programs. These students bring experience to the STEM field in addition to their education. They’re essential in building and innovating in many of these industries.

Also, students who are not able to make the trek to an on-campus classroom may not have been able to pursue their STEM education. This is a loss for the student and the STEM field. Because of this, many STEM industries encourage and promote online degree programs. With an online degree program, students are required to utilize technology daily for coursework and course interaction. These require technical skills that are essential in STEM careers.

Most Affordable STEM Programs

Top 10 Most Affordable Online Master’s Information Systems Assurance and Security

Best Value Residential Programs

Top 20 Best Value Packaging Programs

Top 50 Best Value Colleges

Top 50 Best Value Graduate Schools

Top 50 Best Value Engineering Programs

Top 50 Best Value Graduate Engineering Programs

Best Value Online Programs

Top 50 Best Value Online Colleges

Top 50 Best Value Online Graduate Engineering Programs

Cheapest Online Programs

Top 10 Cheapest Online Bachelor’s Degree Programs

Top 10 Cheapest Online Master’s Degree Programs

Top 10 Cheapest Online Applied Engineering

Top 10 Cheapest Online Engineering Technology Management

Top 10 Cheapest Information Technology Programs

Financing Your STEM Education

One of the first questions that comes to mind when you decide to get a college or graduate degree is “How am I going to pay for school?” The first step is the FAFSA (Free Application for Federal Student Aid). The FAFSA will let you know what kind of help you qualify for, and from whom.

(Check out: Common Errors When Filling Out FAFSA)

Most students look at student loans as the first source of money, unless they have some deep pockets. Federal Stafford loans are usually low-interest, subsidized by the government. They’re administrated by the government or a sanctioned third party. Federal Perkins loans are rare, but they are capped at 5% and are administered through the college or university. Private loans come through private banks and are riskier since they can have higher or variable interest rates and may be harder to pay off.

There are other sources of income, including private and public scholarships. These are usually merit- or need-based. Federal grants do not have to be repaid like loans. The Federal Work-Study program, in which students work part-time jobs for their institution in return for tuition assistance. Working adults may be able to get help through their employer if their company has a tuition reimbursement plan. Plans vary widely from company to company, but many will pay part or all of an employee’s tuition if it’s in the same field.

(Check out: Top 50 College Scholarships)

What Are STEM Careers for Today and Tomorrow?

STEM is huge when it comes to careers. It encompasses quite a few domains including:

  • architecture
  • life, physical and social sciences
  • engineering
  • mathematics
  • information technology

Not everyone in STEM is a laboratory scientist or theoretical mathematician, like we see in the movies. There are many different kinds of career paths to take within STEM:

  • Research, Development & Design
  • Sales
  • Technician
  • Managerial
  • Teaching/Education (at Postsecondary level)

Those in STEM-related Management usually fare the best as far as wages go, bringing in well over six figures annually. BLS statistics report $133K. Technicians are on the low end averaging $56k. However, keep in mind that a particular career path only requires an associate degree, so the initial investment in time and money is much lower.

(Check out: University, Community College, or Trade School: Which Makes the Most Economic Sense? )

When students are moving into choosing STEM higher education programs, they at the different career options of the programs. As STEM industries continue to fuel economies, the career demand for these positions will continue to rise at a significant rate. Each year the demand for students with degrees in one of the STEM fields is growing. For prospective students and those who are looking for a career that will continue to be relevant in the future, STEM positions offer job stability. They are essential currently and to the future of the STEM industries.

STEM Job List

Below is a list of STEM jobs that are in high demand. They offer job stability.

  • Applications Software Developers
  • Chemists
  • Civil Engineers
  • Computer Programmers
  • Environmental Engineers
  • Environmental Scientists
  • Industrial Engineers
  • Medical Scientists
  • Statisticians

These are by no means the only STEM careers available, but they are in demand and are some of the best careers for the next 10 years. If you’re unsure what your major should, take a look at this diverse but essential list. It can help you find a field that fits your interests. The best bachelor’s degrees for in these careers should center on the industry that you’re entering, such as:

  • science
  • engineering
  • mathematics
  • technology

The best careers in science are:

  • biologists
  • environmentalists
  • scientists of a specific discipline

These careers are desired by numerous public agencies as well as private research companies.

STEM Careers for Women

Women are also growing in number in the STEM fields. It is essential to have in all of these fields. Companies and agencies need to have a well-rounded staff and a perspective that has been limited in the past. Women continue to move past obstacles in other industries and become empowered in their careers. They’re now making an appearance in STEM fields. Women have been slowly entering the STEM fields by pursuing the nursing field. In the last decade they’ve taken their nursing degree to a higher level to advance their career to its highest potential. Because of this breakthrough, women are taking advantage of other STEM industries. They’re moving into these fields as scientists, engineers, and IT specialists across the nation.

In the past, women were faced with a gender bias that they were not able to pursue these careers. Society had placed women in a box and limited their career options. Women were also blocked from moving forward with their education if they did desire a career in STEM. Many of the department chairs in colleges and institutions continued to stunt their abilities. However, this trend has taken a positive turn. Research suggests that women seeking a STEM career have been a benefit to the industry.

Because of the increased employee retention and the ability of women to match their male peers in the industry, STEM leaders and employers are seeking out women. They have been promoting these careers for women as early as middle and high school. Many of these agencies and companies also do community outreach at orientations to encourage students to pursue STEM careers for women by promoting the best careers in science.

Moving Forward With A Plan

When deciding which career is the right path for you, take a few minutes to complete a job search. You will gain a wide perspective of the different fields and positions offered in your area. You are then able to narrow down the list to the fields that fit your personal interests. You can then determine which program fits your needs.

Students who may be torn between a few different choices can review the salary potential for these programs and assist with making a decision.

Salary Potential in STEM-Related Careers

STEM careers are dominating in higher education. They are also thriving and leading in the salary pool. Because these careers are in the highest of demands industries, are willing to pay their employees a fair wage to get them interested and then retain them in the field.

Depending on the level of education that you pursue in the STEM, you can expect to receive a salary that compensates you for that level.

Popular Highest-Paying STEM Jobs:

  • Petroleum Engineer $145,000
  • Aerospace Engineer $98,000
  • Chemical Engineer $96,000
  • Structural Engineer $80,000
  • Civil Engineer $78,000
  • Research Scientist $78,000
  • Statistician $71,888
  • IT Specialist (Entry Level) $55,000

One of the highest paying STEM jobs is engineer. With over 20 different types of engineers, the engineering salary is one that ranges significantly. According to Payscale, the highest-paid engineer in the Petroleum engineer, with a salary of approximately $145,000. The Aerospace Engineer and Chemical Engineer follow with salaries between $96,000 – $98,000 averages. Some of the more common engineers such as civil engineers and structural engineers have salaries that range from $78,000 to $80,000 annually.

Before deciding to become an engineer, it’s a good idea to determine which industry you would like. Engineering is a degree that can be complex, but it also includes foundational concepts that allow engineers to shift their careers to different industries if they choose to do so.

Although the engineering salary is one of the more dominant salaries when it comes to the highest-paying STEM jobs, a math major job salary ranges around $71,888 as a statistician. This is the most popular career following a degree in mathematics.

For graduates who are entering the STEM field as entry-level research scientists, they can expect an average salary of $78,000. While some are starting at a little less than that, with annual bonuses and raises, this salary is attainable shortly after beginning their career. Students pursuing a degree in the information technology field can expect an average annual salary of $55,790. These jobs are required in all agencies and companies, as well as being required in every county and state.

Salary is not the only reason to pursue a career in the STEM field. But it makes the required education and challenges in the work area an incentive to be a part of tomorrow’s leaders. A potential salary is an estimation of what to expect in that career field and an insight as to where this career can take you in 10 years or more.

Related Rankings:

Top 25 Best Value Campus Bachelor’s in Graphic Design
Top 15 Best Online Graphic Design Bachelor’s
Top 10 Most Affordable Online Bachelor’s Programs in Graphic Design
Top 25 Best Value Occupational Safety and Health Degrees
Top 25 Best Value Online Fire Science Degrees

Featured Programs

Aya Andrews


Aya Andrews is a passionate educator and mother of two, with a diverse background that has shaped her approach to teaching and learning. Born in Metro Manila, she now calls San Diego home and is proud to be a Filipino-American. Aya earned her Masters degree in Education from San Diego State University, where she focused on developing innovative teaching methods to engage and inspire students.

Prior to her work in education, Aya spent several years as a continuing education consultant for KPMG, where she honed her skills in project management and client relations. She brings this same level of professionalism and expertise to her work as an educator, where she is committed to helping each of her students achieve their full potential.

In addition to her work as an educator, Aya is a devoted mother who is passionate about creating a nurturing and supportive home environment for her children. She is an active member of her community, volunteering her time and resources to support local schools and organizations. Aya is also an avid traveler, and loves to explore new cultures and cuisines with her family.

With a deep commitment to education and a passion for helping others succeed, Aya is a true inspiration to those around her. Her dedication to her craft, her community, and her family is a testament to her unwavering commitment to excellence in all aspects of her life.

Find your perfect value college is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

Enter a search word or phrase