The Benefits of Studying Engineering in the US as an International Student
Are you thinking about studying engineering in the US?
It is a very appealing option for international students for several reasons: an engineering degree can lead to a career at the top tech firms in the US, with a relatively high starting salary and, more practically, you can get by with a minimum amount of writing throughout your college years, which is useful if you’re not as confident in writing in English as in your native language.
#1 - A chance to work at the top tech firms in the US
Did you know that students with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors are able to extend their OPT (Optional Practical Training) for an additional 24 months? The STEM OPT extension is a 24-month period of temporary training that directly relates to an F-1 student's program of study in an approved STEM field, allowing international students who graduated from a US institution to temporarily work in the US. A permanent work visa from an employer will be required eventually, but the STEM OPT extension affords international students a longer grace period.
“As a STEM major, you can apply to the annual work visa lottery process two more times.”
The challenge is that the number of work visas given to internationals is limited each year, and uses a lottery system to determine who the lucky recipients will be. STEM majors (including engineering) are able to extend their time in the US by 24 months, which means they can apply to the annual lottery process two more times, compared to the humanities major students who are ineligible for the extension program. These additional opportunities, combined with a higher demand for technical and engineering talent in the US, gives engineering graduates a much higher chance of finding a job in the US, giving them an advantage over other international students.
Find out more about the OPT extension here.
#2 - A potentially higher salary
Tech roles are some of the highest-paid professions, along with finance and consulting. A 2018 postgraduate survey report from Cornell’s Career Services demonstrates that the average salary of Cornell College of Engineering graduates is $82,000, whereas graduates from other colleges vary from $50-73k. A higher salary doesn’t equate to happiness, but it is certainly a good perk of the job!
Tech roles are some of the highest-paid professions, along with finance and consulting.
#3 - If you dread writing...
If you would rather solve 100 math questions than write a 2000 word essay, then you may want to consider engineering. Don’t get me wrong, I am not saying you will be able to graduate without writing any papers (this is not the case for most engineering schools), but it’s a lesser requirement, (and definitely less than the humanities majors). On the flip side, your workload, generally speaking, will be higher on a weekly basis compared with your friends studying humanities majors. They may have courses that require them to write only two papers the entire semester, whereas you will likely have weekly problem sets, lab reports, midterm, and final exams. So, it comes down to your personal preference about which method of working suits you, as well as what most interests you.
If you would rather solve 100 math questions than write a 2000 word essay, then you may want to consider engineering.
For a more comprehensive look at the benefits of studying engineering at a top US university, and the application requirements in order to do so, check out Millie's Guide to Engineering School.