To raise new questions, new possibilities, to regard old problems from a new angle, requires creative imagination and marks real advance in science. -- Albert Einstein
We've come a long way from the telegraph with four billion people on the planet using mobile phones according to the Smithsonian Science Education Center. Virtual reality, space probes on Mars, cloud computing and even video conferencing were all figments of science fiction until fairly recently. This progress would not have been possible without advances in the STEM fields.
Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics, commonly referred to as STEM, majors can help individuals learn to think creatively and use science and technology to solve problems, not to mention earn wages above average. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS) reports that the national average wage for all STEM occupations was double the national average wage for non-STEM occupations with 93 percent of STEM occupations having wages significantly above the national average wage for all occupations.
The Demand For STEM Majors
With wages higher than the national average, it is easy to assume that jobs within the STEM field are hard to come by. Not so, reports Missouri-based technology and engineering firm Emerson stating that two out of five Americans believe that the shortage of STEM workers has reached a crisis level. Emerson also points out that a survey carried out by the National Association of Manufacturing and Deloitte shows that two million jobs in the manufacturing sector alone are likely to go unfilled due to the lack of qualified personnel by 2025.
What Can You Do With A STEM Degree?
The versatile applications to various STEM subjects means there can be a number of careers you may be eligible to pursue after graduating from an online STEM degree program. The table below uses data from the BLS to list the top STEM occupations along with their projected employment numbers and average wages. Have a look and see which of them align with your interests.
Projected Job Growth
(2016 - 26)
|Environmental Scientists and Specialists, Including Health||80,480||$77,580||11.1%|
|Biological Scientists, All Other||42,640||$83,600||7.9%|
|Electrical and Electronics Drafters||24,900||$64,400||6.7%|
|Computer Network Architects||152,670||$111,130||6.4%|
Explore Online STEM Degree Programs
Individuals with STEM degrees are needed in virtually every industry with a wide variety of career opportunities potentially available to them - from engineering careers to those in medicine or even in the video game industry. The sections below explain what STEM degrees are out there, how they can cater to a number of different interests and what careers you can have with them.
While looking at the sections below make sure that you:
- Click on the buttons under each of the sections to explore the variety of online STEM degrees in more detail.
- Explore the best colleges for STEM majors to help you make that all important choice.
Online Programs In Science
No matter how far technology advances, there will always be a need for individuals who understand pure sciences to conduct research and ask the right questions to further our understanding of the world - whether it is in biology, physics or geology. If research is not your cup of tea, scientists are needed in areas beyond just research, STEM careers in pure sciences can be had in academia, education, and in both private and public sectors - finding innovative solutions to problems and developing new products. For example, biologists may find work in sectors like agriculture, forensics, environmental conservation or healthcare.
Click on the buttons below to explore the field of science that interests you the most to learn about different online degree options, career outlook, projected wages, and more.
Online Programs In Technology
There's no debating the fact that technology now plays an important role in nearly every aspect of our lives. This is reflected in the fact that computer and technology related occupations are expected to grow at 13 percent which is much faster than the average for other occupations according to the BLS.
The field of technology is vast with many specialized applications so many employers are now looking for individuals with specific technical skillsets. Choosing a concentration can help you develop such skills.
Click on the buttons below to explore technology degrees in more detail including specializations, coursework, and careers you may have along with their associated wages.
Online Programs In Engineering and Architecture
Engineers and architects are needed across diverse industries in order to design and build products and buildings that fulfill specific requirements. You may find many online engineering degree programs that are dedicated to a core area of the field like electrical and mechanical engineering, for example.
The BLS predicts that the employment of individuals in engineering occupations is expected to grow due to their demand in the rebuilding of infrastructure, renewable energy, oil and gas extraction, and robotics while the demand for architects is likely to be for those with knowledge of "green design" in order to design buildings that use resources like energy and water efficiently and sustainably and reduce waste.
Click on the buttons below to learn more about the coursework involved, different degree levels, along with careers you may have and their associated wages.
Top 10 Online Colleges in STEM by Degree Level
Choosing the college and online STEM major that best suits your needs is not an easy task. Apart from the careers you can have with a particular STEM degree, you may need to consider factors that are important to the online academic experience like tuition, financial aid programs, placement services and graduation rates. We've compiled a list of the best colleges for STEM majors online using these factors and more to try and make this task easier for you. Do check out our detailed methodology at the bottom of the page to learn how these 10 colleges can present you with the best options for online STEM degrees.
Online Associate Degree Programs in STEM
Online associate STEM degree programs can take you around two years of full-time study to complete. Careers with a STEM degree at the associate level include entry-level occupations as web developers, drafters, and engineering technicians. Data from the BLS shows that even associate degree holders in engineering and technology can earn wages well above the average for all occupations ($38,640) with electrical and electronics engineering technicians earning median annual wages of $64,330, aerospace engineering and operations technicians earning $67,010, and web developers earning $69,430 in 2018.
Online Bachelor's Degree Programs in STEM
Online Master's Degree Programs in STEM
Online master's STEM degrees usually take around two years of full-time study to finish. STEM majors with a master's degree may be employed in supervisory positions or conduct research in areas of their interest. Some STEM master's degree programs are geared toward individuals who want to go on to complete a doctorate while Professional Science Master's (PSM) degree programs are geared toward individuals who want to work outside academia. Rest assured, you may be able to find STEM careers outside of academia even with a pure science degree. For example, mathematicians and statisticians are needed in industries like finance and healthcare.
Online Doctoral Degree Programs in STEM
According to data from the NSF, science and engineering doctorates accounted for 76 percent of all doctorates awarded in 2017.
Doctoral STEM degrees can take between three to seven years of full - time study.Holders of doctorates are often considered to be experts in their field and may be involved in cutting - edge research in their fields.PhDs can help professionals expand their knowledge and advance their careers or enter academia.
Funding Opportunities Offered For STEM Majors
The United States Government has recognized the need for STEM majors to cover this gap and supports research and education in all the non-medical fields of science and engineering through the National Science Foundation (NSF) and medical research and education through the National Institutes of Health (NIH). In fact, in 2018 the Department of Education (DoE) announced that it surpassed President Trump's directive to invest $200 million by making $279 million worth of discretionary grants to support STEM education. Some programs along with their funding include:
- Education Innovation and Research (EIR) -- $66.8 million
- Supporting Effective Educator Development (SEED) -- $28.2 million
- Teacher Quality Partnership (TQP) -- $16.4 million
- Indian Education Discretionary Grants Programs: Professional Development Grants Program -- $6.2 million
- Training Program for Federal TRIO Programs -- $1.2 million
- GEAR UP Competition: New Partnership Awards -- $108 million
- GEAR UP Competition: New State Awards -- $20.4 million
There are various state-level initiatives too that have been put in place to expand the interest in STEM degrees. The New Jersey Governor's STEM Scholars Program which helps students develop their STEM learning from high school through PhD programs and Washington's STEM Education Innovation Alliance which helps the workforce develop STEM skills are two examples of such initiatives.
Online STEM degrees are available right from the associate degree level to more advanced doctoral degrees. So whether you are a recent high school graduate, a working professional or a career changer, an online STEM degree program can help you gain the knowledge you need while giving the flexibility you need to adhere to work, family and other commitments. An interesting fact to note is that according to a 2019 Learning House survey of online students, there was an increase of 5 percent in students enrolling in online STEM programs in 2019 (up 11 percent in 2019 from six percent in 2014).