Pardee RAND Receives STEM Designation

Pavan Katkar (cohort '14) presents research on Blockchain to the Pardee RAND Board of Governors

Pavan Katkar (cohort '14) presents his Blockchain research to the Pardee RAND Board of Governors

Photo by Diane Baldwin/RAND Corporation

November 12, 2018; UPDATE: April 5, 2022

International students who receive their M.Phil. or Ph.D. from Pardee RAND Graduate School may now be able to stay in the United States for three years, thanks to efforts by Career Services advisor Sandra Buchan to get Pardee RAND's Ph.D. degree recognized as a STEM-designation program.

The U.S. Department of Homeland Security, through the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services, allows certain F-1 Visa students who receive science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (STEM) degrees to apply for a 24-month extension of their visa.

All international students have the option of working for one year in the United States after graduation. The government formalized this benefit under a program known as Optional Practical Training (OPT). With the combination of OPT and Pardee RAND's STEM-designation, new graduates from overseas may now work an additional two years after completing their OPT, for a total of three years.

"For the past several years, Pardee has been on a path of incorporating more quantitative coursework, expanding our programming requirements, and working on larger problem sets/big data," Buchan said. "It was a natural progression to request that the government designate our Ph.D. program as STEM-related."

The STEM designation expands students’ opportunities and makes them more competitive for jobs in the tech industry. Firms such as Google, Facebook, and Amazon have a strong interest in hiring international students from STEM-designated schools, as it gives the employers three years to evaluate candidates and complete the paperwork to sponsor them for H1B Visas.

"The STEM designation will allow our students to put down deeper roots, explore higher paying jobs, and be in the better position to utilized their hard-earned Ph.D.," Buchan added, "all the while contributing to the U.S. labor market."

For more information about the U.S. government's STEM OPT program, visit their website,