Two University of Wisconsin Masters in Business Administration courses became the first to receive a STEM designation in the country Thursday, which could make the degree more valuable to students and employers.

U.S. Department of Homeland Security classified supply chain management and operation technology management with an official Science, Technology, Engineering and Math designation, Peter Kerwin, UW School of Business spokesperson, said. They are the first business programs to receive the designation.

Blair Sanford, assistant dean for the full-time UW MBA program, said the designation shows that these programs give students quantifiable skills in the STEM fields. The two programs contain courses that give more rigorous analytical training, exposure to technology and opportunities to do projects in such areas. She said such training is highly regarded and in demand among employers.

“The designation is a really meaningful add on to courses the students are already taking and will be really valuable to them,” Sanford said.

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The classification is good news for UW MBA students in the two programs because there’s higher demand for STEM-classified certificates, Sanford said. He said it also increases UW’s credibility and pushes it to be a leader in these areas.

Kerwin said the federal government created the designation to address the worker shortage in STEM fields. Allowing fields that are not directly related to STEM to be designated this way can generate more talent and allow more workers to be in STEM fields.

Sanford said the designation will also likely bring in more international students to pursue an MBA in supply chain and operation technology management in UW. Studying these programs would allow international students to gain an additional 24 months of work experience in the U.S. 

“We are positioned as a really attractive place for international students who want great US training at a very value priced institution,” Sanford said.

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Sanford said other MBA programs like marketing research could also qualify in the future. The Bachelors in Business Administration program will most likely not be considered, but there is a possibility in the future, she said.

UW could pave the way for other institutions looking to receive a STEM designation as well. Sanford said applying for the designation was UW’s way of improving its standing and value under budget constraints. STEM can help other universities do the same.

“I think that now that we’re out there and approved, other institutions will follow and try to do the same thing, and we are very excited about it,” Sanford said.