STEM education and STEM careers come with a variety of misconceived notions and misguided questions. For instance, are only men interested in STEM programs? Do all STEM graduates become scientists or doctors? STEM programs are super expensive, right?
Before jumping to any conclusions, keep reading because we examined seven common myths about STEM degrees and careers and debunked them, so you don’t have to.
Myth 1: STEM programs are super expensive.
Program cost depends on a variety of factors: what school you attend, the location of your program, whether you secure a graduate assistantship position or a scholarship, what kind of financial aid you apply for, etc.
Depending on your personal experience and situation, a STEM program may or may not be more costly than a non-STEM program. Thus, as you navigate the graduate school admissions process, start looking into financing graduate school and stay ahead of the game!
Myth 2: STEM professionals aren't creative.
Don't worry — STEM doesn't just consist of hours of research and dry lectures. There are plenty of STEM-related careers that require creative innovation and artistic expression.
"The STEM to STEAM movement has revealed the artistic underpinnings of the sciences. Whether designing an architecturally sound solar-powered home or translating scientific findings into sculpture, similar to those created by Rebecca Kamen, students can channel artistic passions into STEM studies." -STEMjobs.com
Myth 3: You need a STEM bachelor's degree to pursue a STEM graduate degree program.
While having a liberal arts bachelor’s degree does not necessarily exclude you from pursuing a STEM graduate degree, it does depend on which STEM discipline you’d like to pursue. For instance, some programs — such as a Master of Science in Aerospace Engineering or a Master of Science in Molecular Biology — have very rigid prerequisite requirements due to the nature of the material.
However, some STEM programs require applicants to hold a bachelor’s degree but do not discriminate against non-STEM bachelor’s degrees. For instance:
Myth 4: Only men do well in STEM programs.
This is false. There are a myriad of reasons — social and cultural — why women aren’t as present in STEM-related programs and careers, but this fact has nothing to do with women’s inability to comprehend or successfully complete a STEM program. While debunking this myth could warrant its own essay, women should internalize their strengths and feel the autonomy to pursue whatever degree and career path they choose.
Myth 5: A STEM graduate degree will teach you everything you need to know.
Nope. Learning never ends when you graduate, and this is especially true for STEM professionals. In order to be a leader in STEM, you must keep on top of the latest research, technological advancements, and continuous upkeep of your skill set. The STEM program you choose is only the beginning of a long career of learning.
Myth 6: You need to be a straight A+ student to pursue a STEM graduate degree.
While it's important to make your grades a priority, it's just as important to remember that STEM is about critical thinking, making mistakes, and learning from them in order to inspire progress in your given field. A failed experiment or a bad grade could result in the insight needed to be able to focus on untapped areas of improvement.
Myth 7: You have to be really good at math and/or science to succeed in a STEM program.
Mathematics and science professionals have their place in the STEM field, obviously. But STEM is more about problem solving, critical thinking, and research capabilities within the hard sciences. If you’re not a math whizz or a science “nerd,” that’s okay! There are plenty of STEM-related degrees in technology and engineering that need big-picture, mission-driven thinkers.
West Virginia University is here to help you succeed.
Wherever you see yourself, WVU is here to help you become exceptional. If you're interested in joining our community, we hope you'll request more information today!
Also, if you have questions about the below topics, we have resources to help you there too!
Securing a graduate assistantship
Making a career change
Enrolling in graduate school online
Choosing a STEM education
As an aspiring STEM professional, we invite you to explore our interactive resource — A Guide to STEM Graduate Programs and Careers!