Interested parties may nominate a Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) code for inclusion on or removal from the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List, which is used to determine whether an F-1 student is eligible for a 24-month STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) extension of Optional Practical Training (OPT). NAFSA encourages institutions to submit their STEM OPT field nominations directly to SEVP by August 1, 2022, following SEVP's instructions and guidelines.

In addition, NAFSA is considering submitting an association letter that supports the nominations that NAFSA members are submitting to SEVP. To inform this NAFSA letter, please consider letting NAFSA know about your own institutional nominations you submit or are planning to submit to SEVP, by submitting to NAFSA IssueNet Report an ISS Issue by July 1, 2022, including the substance of the nomination(s) you're sending or have already sent to SEVP. Make sure to submit your actual nomination(s) directly to SEVP, though, as the NAFSA letter does not take the place of your own institution’s submission to SEVP.

Make sure to consult these sources

In preparing your submission, make sure to consult these sources:

Pertinent parts of some of these sources are extracted below for ease of reference.

The regulation

DHS will expect nominators to include supporting materials that specifically address how a nominated field meets the regulatory requirement that the field involves "research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences)."

8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2)(i)

(i) The term "science, technology, engineering or mathematics field" means a field included in the Department of Education’s Classification of Instructional Programs taxonomy within the two-digit series or successor series containing engineering, biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences, or a related field. In general, related fields will include fields involving research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences).

Mechanics of submitting a nomination

Extract from SEVP Broadcast Message 2205-01:

"Who may nominate a CIP code? Interested parties, including members of the public, may nominate a CIP code for inclusion on or removal from the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List.

How may a nomination be submitted? Nominations may be submitted by email to the SEVP Response Center at [email protected], with the subject line "Attention: STEM CIP Code Nomination." Nominations should include the following information:

  • Title and six-digit code of the CIP code being nominated.
  • The name, email address and telephone number of the nominator; if submitted on behalf of an educational institution or other institutional entity, please indicate the appropriate contact person at the institution.
  • If nominating a CIP code for inclusion, a description of how the field of study under this CIP code engages students in research, innovation or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science or natural sciences (including physical, biological and agricultural sciences).
  • If nominating a CIP code for removal, a description of how the field of study under this CIP code does not engage students in research, innovation or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science or natural sciences (including physical, biological and agricultural sciences).

The annual deadline for nominations is August 1. SEVP will review all nominations submitted by August 1 and publish any changes in a future update to the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List. The program will announce any changes to the list via a Federal Register Notice and through its communication channels, including Broadcast Messages, Study in the States blog posts and social media. Nominations submitted after August 1 will be assessed during the next review cycle."

How does DHS assess nominations?

Extract from SEVP Broadcast Message 2205-01:

How does DHS assess nominations? Nominations to add or remove degrees from the STEM Designated Degree Program List are assessed consistent with the authorizing regulation at 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(c)(2). SEVP evaluates submissions to assess whether the degree is generally considered to be a STEM degree by recognized authorities, including input from educational institutions, governmental entities and non-governmental entities. SEVP also reviews the NCES definition of the CIP code and any supporting material submitted by the nominator such as the required curriculum for the degree and the extent to which it is comprised of core STEM disciplines as well as student involvement in research, innovation and development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science or natural sciences (including physical, biological and agricultural sciences). The degree requirements and curriculum may be assessed across academic institutions to ensure that the core aspects of the degree are sufficiently consistent among educational institutions.

A proposed addition does not have to have all supporting elements to be added to the STEM list. DHS assesses the totality of a submission and may approve a proposed CIP code if it presents sufficient evidence and reasoning to establish that the regulatory definition of a STEM field encompasses the degree under consideration.

CIP Eligibility. Under 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2), a STEM field of study is a field of study "included in the Department of Education's Classification of Instructional Programs (CIP) taxonomy within the 2-digit series containing engineering, biological sciences, mathematics, and physical sciences, or a related field. In general, related fields will include fields involving research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences)."

  • Accordingly, DHS designates all CIP codes in the following four series to be STEM:
    • Engineering (14)
    • Biological and Biomedical Sciences (26)
    • Mathematics and Statistics (27)
    • Physical Sciences (40)

All CIP codes in these four series automatically qualify for the 24-month STEM OPT extension. If a CIP code is from one of these four series, it does not need to be nominated as it is already approved.

  • DHS has designated select qualifying degrees from the following CIP code series at the six-digit level as related fields because these specific fields of study were deemed to sufficiently engage students in the core STEM disciplines. However, CIP code nominations are not restricted to these fields:
    • Agricultural/Animal/Plant/Veterinary Science and Related Fields (01)
    • Natural Resources and Conservation (03)
    • Architecture and Related Services (04)
    • Communication, Journalism and Related Programs (09)
    • Communications Technologies/Technicians and Support Services (10)
    • Computer and Information Sciences and Support Services (11)
    • Education (13)
    • Engineering/Engineering-Related Technologies/Technicians (15)
    • Military Science, Leadership and Operational Art (28)
    • Military Technologies and Applied Sciences (29)
    • Multi/Interdisciplinary Studies (30)
    • Science Technologies/Technicians (41)
    • Psychology (42)
    • Homeland Security, Law Enforcement, Firefighting and Related Protective Services (43)
    • Social Sciences (45)
    • Transportation and Materials Moving (49)
    • Health Professions and Related Programs (51)
    • Business, Management, Marketing and Related Support Services (52)

Extract from DHS' latest revision to the DHS STEM Designated Degree Program List was published in the Federal Register at 87 FR 3317 (January 21, 2022). The notices' preamble contains a good discussion under the heading How does DHS assess nominations?, reproduced here:

"How does DHS assess nominations?

Nominations to add or remove degrees from the STEM list are assessed consistent with the authorizing regulation. As defined in the governing regulations, a STEM field is a field included in the CIP taxonomy [8] that falls within the two-digit series containing engineering, biological sciences, mathematics and statistics, and physical sciences, or a related field, which generally involves research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences). See 8 CFR 214.2(f)(10)(ii)(C)(2)(i). This definition is widely used by U.S. institutions of higher education and provides an objective measure by which to identify STEM fields of study.

As noted above, by regulation, DHS has designated four areas as core STEM fields and lists these four areas at the two-digit CIP code level. As a result, any new additions to those areas are automatically included on the STEM list. These four areas are: Engineering (CIP code 14), Biological and Biomedical Sciences (CIP code 26), Mathematics and Statistics (CIP code 27), and Physical Sciences (CIP code 40). If a degree is not within the four core fields, DHS considers whether the degree is in a STEM-related field listed at the six-digit level. The six-digit designation allows for individualized review of a specific field of study to ensure it meets the "related field" criteria of "involving research, innovation, or development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences)."

SEVP evaluates submissions to assess whether the degree is generally considered to be a STEM degree by recognized authorities, including input from educational institutions, governmental entities, and non-governmental entities. SEVP also reviews the NCES definition of the CIP code and any supporting material submitted by the nominator such as the required curriculum for the degree and the extent to which it is comprised of core STEM disciplines as well as research, innovation, and development of new technologies using engineering, mathematics, computer science, or natural sciences (including physical, biological, and agricultural sciences). The degree requirements and curriculum may be assessed across academic institutions to ensure that the core aspects of the degree are sufficiently consistent among educational institutions.

A proposed addition does not have to have all supporting elements to be added to the STEM list. DHS assesses the totality of a submission and may approve a proposed CIP code if it presents sufficient evidence and reasoning to establish that the regulatory definition of a STEM field encompasses the degree under consideration."