What is STEM? 5 Things You Need To Know | Student Reviews & University Rankings EDUopinions

What is STEM? 5 Things You Need To Know


STEM is a huge subject that is actually made up of varied disciplines. Because of this, it can be hard to understand exactly what it is. Actually, it’s about more than just what the letters stand for. In fact, this subject comes with an entirely different way of learning, along with crucial transferable skills.

In this article, we’ll reveal the top five things you need to know about STEM. From job opportunities to exactly what it is, by the end, you’ll know if this kind of degree is right for you.

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The Basics about STEM

The Basics of STEM

At its most basic, the word STEM stands for science, technology, engineering and mathematics. You’ll see the word used to describe university degrees and courses that cover one or more of these different areas.

These areas are all linked by their focus on analytical thinking and practical applications. Its direct opposite is Humanities, an area of learning that focuses on the creative world including literature, arts, and culture.

However, STEM isn’t limited to just these four subjects represented in the acronym. More broadly, it encompasses:

  • Biology
  • Computer science
  • Economics
  • IT
  • Physics
  • Psychology
  • Statistics

5 Thinks you need to know about STEM

1. STEM Skills are in-demand

In 2016, one report estimated that STEM jobs would grow at double the rate of other occupations – 6% compared to 3%. In the UK, STEM-related jobs are expected to account for almost 8% of all jobs by 2023, meaning plenty of opportunities for STEM graduates.

As the world grows more reliant on technology, there’s an increasing need for graduates who have a background in this subject. On a STEM degree, you’ll be introduced to innovative technology and ways of thinking not included in other degrees.

2. Business Isn’t Part of STEM

While niche areas like finance and economics may feature within the STEM acronym, technically business or management aren’t STEM courses. However, at some universities, it is possible to study a STEM-focused business or management degree – which may improve your job prospects.

For example, many business schools are planning on offering STEM versions of their degrees – Masters or MBAs – to improve their students’ employability. Companies today are looking for grads who can do statistical analysis, interpret big data, and make informed decisions. All these skills will be covered on a STEM business degree.

3. Not all STEM Subjects Are Equal

While every STEM subject is important – no least science and medicine – there’s one that’s developing at a fast rate than others. Technology may be one of the most important skills for graduates in the future.

McKinsey predicts that between 75 million and 375 million people globally will have to retrain for future jobs – those that require a higher standard of tech skills. Studying STEM subjects like data analysis, coding, and fintech now will give you a better chance of being able to survive the future skills gap.

4. THe Most Popular Jobs are High-Earning

The most high-earning jobs in the world generally fall into the STEM category. For example, jobs in engineering (including electrical engineering and petroleum engineering) can boast salaries of over €100,000. The average salary for jobs in Europe is €51,644. In Switzerland, it’s as high as €95,000.

Some of the most popular graduate STEM jobs include:

  • IT Consulting
  • Pharmacist
  • Toxicologist
  • Aerospace engineer
  • Contracting civil engineer
  • Actuarial analyst
  • Investment analyst

5. It focuses on Transferable Skills

At the heart of these subjects are an alternative way of learning that prioritises crucial skills like communication, teamwork, innovative thinking, and problem-solving. All these skills make STEM graduates employable not just in their subject area but a wide variety of jobs.

The coursework and projects you’ll receive on this kind of degree will likely test skills like critical thinking and how you come up with solutions. This makes it different to a Humanities degree, where these skills aren’t tested as much. All of this means that you’ll be more prepared for the workplace, where you’ll need to work both independently and within a team to bring solutions to your company.


STEM is used to describe a variety of subjects that are all linked by their technical skills and practical applications in the real world. If you study one of these subjects, you’ll gain transferable skills and learn about future technology – all of which will improve your job prospects.

Looking to find out what it’s like studying a STEM degree? Read through thousands of real student reviews on EDUopinions.

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Written by
Abigail is a freelance writer specialising in higher education. She has lived in London and the Netherlands, and has a Masters degree in American Studies.

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