Newly Added STEM Fields for OPT in USA

Newly Added STEM Fields for OPT in USA


03 October 2023



The United States has long been a magnet for international students pursuing higher education in STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics). One of the key incentives for these students has been the Optional Practical Training (OPT) program, which allows them to work in the U.S. for a specified period after graduation. 


In recent years, the U.S. government has recognised the importance of STEM talent and has expanded the list of eligible STEM fields for OPT. The DHS STEM Designated Degree Programme List is updated on July 12, 2023, and eight additional qualified disciplines of study are added as per the updated list.  


This list establishes international students in F-1 status eligible to apply for a 24-month extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT) in a STEM subject. Before January 2022, the Biden administration had increased the number of STEM subjects qualified for OPT by 22, including 22 new ones such as cloud computing, anthrozoology, climate science, and mathematical economics. 

Additionally, the degree programme list is open to public nominations for fields. OPT is essential for international students to get real-world experience, leading to H-1B status and employment-based green card chances. In this blog, we'll look at these newly added STEM fields for OPT in USA and the opportunities they bring, and answer frequently asked questions about the topic. 

Which are the Fields of Study?

Let us look at newly added STEM fields for OPT in USA.


Institutional Research

  • Data Analysis

  • Research Methods

  • Data Mining

  • Data-driven Decision-making

  • Higher Education Administration and Organization

  • Statistics


Composite Materials Technology/Technician

  • Composite Repair

  • Composite Manufacturing

  • Material Science

  • Composite Maintenance

  • Mold Manufacturing and Production

  • Composite Materials and Processes

  • Computer-Aided Design and Drafting


Developmental and Adolescent Psychology

  • Emotional Development

  • Cognitive and Perceptual Development

  • Personality Development

  • Research on Child and Adolescent Behaviour Therapy

  • Testing and Assessment Methods for Different Age Levels

  • Theories of Cognitive Growth and Related Research Methods

  • The Psychology of Aging


Demography and Population Studies

  • Spatial Distribution

  • Population Growth

  • Migration

  • Mortality and Fertility Factors

  • Population Policy Studies

  • Dynamic Population Modeling

  • Mathematical and Statistical Analysis of Population Data

  • Population Estimation and Projection

  • Applications to Problems in Economics and Government Planning



  • Cartography

  • Aerial Photography Analysis

  • Physical Geography

  • Geographic Information Systems (GIS)

  • Spatial Programming

  • Quantitative Methods in Geographic Research

  • Remote Sensing


Linguistics and Computer Science

  • Semantics

  • Logic

  • Linguistic Analysis

  • Computer Programming

  • Natural Language Processing

  • Syntax

  • Software Engineering

  • Machine Learning

  • Psycholinguistics

  • Human Languages


Mechatronics, Robotics, and Automation Engineering Technology/Technician

  • Control Engineering

  • Computer and Software Engineering

  • Electronic and Electrical Engineering

  • Mechanical Engineering

  • Robotics


Landscape Architecture

  • Environmental Design

  • Soils, Groundcovers, and Horticultural elements

  • Project and Site Planning

  • Applicable Law and Regulations

  • Landscape Design, History, and Theory

  • Geology and Hydrology

Emerging Opportunities in Newly Added STEM Fields in USA

The inclusion of these newly added STEM fields for OPT in USA offers several benefits, some of which are described in this section:

  1. Extended Work Authorization: OPT allows international students to work in the U.S. for up to 12 months after graduation. Those in STEM fields in USA can extend their OPT for an additional 24 months, providing more time to gain valuable work experience.

  2. Skill Enhancement: Working in the U.S. exposes international graduates to advanced technologies and methodologies, enhancing their skillset and employability.

  3. Networking: OPT provides an excellent opportunity to build a professional network in the U.S., leading to enticing future career prospects.

  4. Transition to H-1B: Many OPT participants later apply for the H-1B visa, which allows skilled foreign workers to remain in the U.S. for an extended period.


What is the Eligibility Criteria?

A Form I-765, "Application for Employment Authorization," must be submitted by eligible students in order to request employment authorisation and an employment authorisation document. A Form I-983, "Training Plan for STEM OPT Students," must also be submitted to guarantee that eligible students receive the academic and training benefits of the STEM OPT extension.



To summarise, the expansion of STEM fields eligible for the OPT program reflects the U.S. government's commitment to attracting and retaining top talent in key industries. As a result, International students in these STEM fields in USA now have more opportunities to gain practical experience and contribute to the American workforce. However, students must stay informed about program requirements and deadlines to maximise these opportunities.


Keep a check on all the changes if you also want to enter the same field. It is necessary to research facts and then move forward thoroughly. We wish you all the best in your future endeavours.



Q1. How does one apply for OPT?

A. To apply for OPT, you should work with your Designated School Official (DSO) and follow the application process outlined by U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services (USCIS).


Q2. Can I apply for OPT if my degree is not in a STEM field?

A. Yes, you can apply for regular OPT if your degree is not in a STEM field. However, the STEM OPT extension is specifically for STEM graduates.


Q3. How does one extend their OPT under the STEM program?

A. To extend your OPT under the STEM program, you must work for an E-Verify employer and meet specific requirements. Consult with your DSO for guidance.


Q4. What happens if one doesn't find a job during the OPT period?

A. If you don't secure employment during your OPT period, you have a 60-day grace period to depart the U.S., transfer to another school, or change your immigration status.


Q5. Does the OPT extension have any restrictions or prerequisites?

A. Yes, the OPT extension is subject to specific conditions and limitations. You must work for an employer participating in the E-Verify programme, have a degree in a qualifying STEM subject from an accredited U.S. institution, and submit a Form I-983 training plan.

Apart from this, to keep your legal status throughout the OPT extension period, you must inform your designated school official (DSO) of any changes in your job or residence.


We hope you enjoyed learning about the newly added STEM fields for OPT in USA, but if you would like to get a deeper understanding or have any questions about how to study in USA, we encourage you to speak with our team of expert USA counsellors at Meridean Overseas Education Consultants (MOEC).


Visit our website for free online counselling, or contact us at or 1800-1230-00011 for personalised support.

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