9 STEM Degrees to Consider

2 Nov, 2023 | Engineering, Medicine, University Preparation

What Are STEM Subjects?

STEM subjects cover four main disciplines that contribute to the understanding of our world and the advancement of our society. These are:

Science – the study of the natural world and the physical, chemical and biological phenomena that occur within it

Technology – the application of scientific knowledge to create practical tools, devices and systems

Engineering – the design, construction and optimisation of structures, machines, systems and processes to solve real-world problems

Mathematics – the framework for quantifying, measuring and describing phenomena

STEM degrees are paramount in driving innovation, solving complex problems and shaping the future!

What Will I Learn Studying for a STEM Degree?

For students considering pursuing undergraduate study in a STEM discipline, there are a variety of benefits and potential career paths attached to the pursuit of a STEM degree.

I. Foundation of scientific principles

A STEM degree provides students with a deep understanding of scientific principles essential for a career in STEM. For example:

  • A Biology course explores the foundational principles of genetics, like Mendelian inheritance and DNA structure – crucial in biomedical research, biotechnology and agriculture
  • Physics students study Newton’s laws of motion, exploring how objects behave in the physical world – fundamental knowledge for physicists and engineers
  • A Chemistry degree explores the periodic table and the chemical reactions that are the basis of chemical principles – essential in fields such as materials science, pharmaceuticals, environmental science and chemical engineering

II. Advanced problem-solving skills

During their studies, STEM students often face complex, real-world challenges as they learn to approach problems systematically with critical analysis, logical reasoning and innovative solutions.

This could include tackling programming challenges, analysing data to address real-world issues, or applying mathematical and scientific concepts to design efficient and sustainable solutions.

III. Cutting-edge technologies and innovations

As STEM subjects are frequently at the forefront of technological advancements and innovations, STEM students have the opportunity to work with cutting-edge technologies like new laboratory equipment, the latest computer software and specialised instruments!

This could look like a Computer Science student having access to state-of-the-art virtual reality equipment to explore emerging technologies, or an Aerospace Engineering student having the opportunity to design and test drones equipped with the latest navigation technologies.

It’s super important for STEM professionals to stay updated with the latest innovations, and this is heavily reflected in a STEM degree.

IV. Interdisciplinary collaboration

STEM programmes are also excellent for encouraging students to work with peers from different backgrounds, preparing students for real-life scenarios where multiple disciplines come together for innovative solutions.

  • Biomedical engineering students may collaborate with medical professionals to design prosthetic devices
  • Climate Science students may collaborate with meteorologists, ecologists or policy experts to address climate change challenges
  • Robotics students may collaborate with computer scientists, electrical engineers or mechanical engineers to create robotic systems

The options for collaboration are endless!

How Do I Choose a STEM Degree?

With a seemingly endless number of potential fields and subjects to study at university, it can feel daunting to choose just one area of focus when applying to colleges. 

It’s a good idea to explore a range of academic options and disciplines that can open doors to exciting opportunities in and beyond university. Consider the types of internships and jobs that best complement your academic interests – if you’re not sure where to start, check out our OxBright Career Test for free guidance towards your ideal career path!

STEM Degrees to Consider

Without further ado, here are nine STEM degrees to consider before applying to university:

1. Biology

Biology is a broad and exciting discipline, suitable for anyone interested in exploring the wonders of life sciences, studying live organisms and examining their ecosystems. 

Additionally, Biology informs innovation across lots of different fields, including medicine, biotechnology, conservation and research. For example, scientists studying in vitro diagnostics (IVD), the molecular character of cystic fibrosis or the population dynamics of HIV, all rely on the practical use of Biology to inform their medical discoveries.

For those who choose to study Biology, there are a number of potential career paths available across the medical profession, environmental science and genetic counselling – to name just a few!

OxBright students studying a diagram of the heart in Biology class

2. Chemistry

Like Biology, Chemistry – a deep dive into the realm of chemical elements, compounds and reactions – is highly relevant across lots of research fields, including pharmaceuticals, materials science and environmental studies. Medicinal chemistry, for example, has proven instrumental in the discovery of new drugs to treat novel medical conditions.

Pursuing a degree in Chemistry, can open up career opportunities in chemical research, forensic science, or in the pharmaceutical and industrial chemistry fields.

3. Physics

If you’re interested in exploring the fundamental laws of the universe, as well as phenomena like motion, energy and matter, then a degree in Physics could be for you. 

Physics, which studies universal objects ranging from the very small to the entire universe (via the theory of general relativity), is especially useful for developments in engineering, astrophysics and technology – proven by Bolton’s influential discovery of a black hole in 1972.

Like other STEM degrees, there are various career paths that Physics students can pursue after university. These include roles in research and academia, aerospace engineering and data science.

4. Mathematics

As one of the oldest scientific fields, Mathematics remains a diverse and highly-sought after field of study. Students interested in examining the language of patterns, quantities and relationships may be especially interested in pursuing a degree in Mathematics. 

Mathematics has also proven highly effective in supporting the fields of finance, cryptography and data analysis – evidenced by the development of cryptographic hash functions that can be used to pass information through cryptocurrency!

Studying for a degree in Mathematics can lead to opportunities in actuarial science, data science, teaching and quantitative analysis.

5. Computer Science

Another popular STEM degree is Computer Science, which involves an analysis of the world of computing, algorithms and software development. 

Computer Science has become increasingly relevant as the world continues to modernise and develop sophisticated technologies, and it remains an important part of work in technology, artificial intelligence and cybersecurity. Take, for instance, the rise of AI, which has necessitated the reconfiguration of cybersecurity landscapes by computer scientists.

Like other STEM degrees, Computer Science also lends itself to several potential career paths, including software engineering, data analysis, cybersecurity specialisms and web development.

OxBright students working on their laptops in Computer Science class

6. Engineering

Arguably one of the most complex and rewarding STEM degrees is Engineering – the application of scientific principles to design and build solutions to real-world questions and problems. 

Engineering continues to shape and transform numerous disciplines, resulting in the advent of civil, mechanical, electrical and biomedical engineering, amongst many others. Engineering also plays a pivotal role in improving the quality of life for people across societies and cultures.

Engineering students often pursue work in different Engineering fields, project management, infrastructure developments and renewable energy.

7. Environmental Science

If you’re interested in a career that examines natural processes and their impact on the environment, then a degree in Environmental Science is definitely worth considering. 

Environmental Science is an interdisciplinary field that integrates physics, biology and geography to study the environment and the solutions for various environmental problems. It’s significant in sustainability and, perhaps most importantly, ongoing climate change research.

There are several career paths for students who have achieved a degree in Environmental Science, including jobs in environmental consulting, conservation research, renewable energy and policy analysis.

8. Astronomy

Astronomy, like Physics, concerns the mysteries of the universe! In particular, a STEM degree in Astronomy involves the analysis of stars, galaxies and celestial objects. 

Astronomy has proven particularly relevant to space exploration and the field of cosmology – a trend made possible by recent research on the ways in which planets can form, as well as the formation of magnetars.

An Astronomy degree can lead to potential work in astrophysics research, aerospace engineering, planetarium education and space agencies.

9. Statistics

Our final STEM degree to consider is Statistics – a deep dive into the world of data analysis, probability and statistical methods. 

Statistics is notably important for developments and innovations in research, finance, healthcare and market analysis. This has been recently demonstrated by the use of statistical methods to improve genomic analyses in medicine.

Like other STEM degrees, Statistics also allows for potential careers across a variety of fields, including data science, research analysis, actuarial science and quality control.

There’s a diverse array of STEM degrees available for students to study at university, ranging from Biology to Physics to Computer Science and beyond! Each subject comes with its own unique impact on global advancement, with STEM research supporting developments in healthcare, finance, cybersecurity, space exploration and more.

It’s important to make informed choices when choosing your degree. OxBright offers a variety of online resources and support for students who are beginning the process of exploring, cultivating and pursuing their passions in STEM fields, so be sure to check out what’s on offer!

Adam

By Adam Kluge

Adam (he/him) recently completed his MSc in Criminology and Criminal Justice at the University of Oxford. His research exists at the intersection of law, politics, and history – and he welcomes opportunities to further explore these areas through personal and pedagogical practices. He completed his undergraduate degrees at Columbia University and will begin a PhD in Criminology at Oxford this autumn.

Ready for a career in STEM?

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