With starting salaries above $85,000 for graduates of science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) degrees, it’s no wonder that these programs are incredibly popular among prospective students. Beyond a big paycheck, another huge draw to these dynamic degrees is the ability to play an active role in developing the tools and platforms that will shape our society for decades to come.
If you’re one of the many international students who is searching for the right STEM degree program, then you’ll probably prioritize institutions that offer:
- Rankings and reputation;
- Work experience abroad during or after your studies;
- Active campus life;
- Flexibility of the program design and delivery.
We’ll cover all of that and more in today’s article featuring California State University Northridge (CSUN). For starters, their College of Engineering and Computer Science is ranked in the Top 10 percent of the nation by Best Engineering Colleges and it’s also rated among the top 35 by US News and World Report.
Tip! Check out our previous article with an overview of CSUN’s academic environment and facilities.
CSUN’s former dean helps set global standards in STEM
When you’re looking for a degree in engineering and computer science, make sure the universities you’re considering are accredited by ABET (the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology). The educational standards they set have become the basis of quality for STEM disciplines all over the world.
As you might expect, CSUN has ABET accreditation, but there’s more. Not only are they accredited, but their former dean, department chair and professor Dr. S.K. Ramesh is now president of ABET! Dr. Ramesh has been a driving force of innovation at CSUN, and his role as president is an additional mark of excellence for CSUN, further reinforcing the university’s role in setting the standards for institutions that offer stem majors in more than 40 countries.
CSUN’s College of Engineering and Computer Science runs nine bachelor degree programs for over 4,300 undergraduate students and ten postgraduate programs for 455 students. There are five specialized departments within the College:
- Civil Engineering and Construction Management
- Computer Science
- Electrical and Computer Engineering
- Manufacturing Systems Engineering and Management
- Mechanical Engineering
Wondering what it feels like to be an engineering student at CSUN? Check out our quick video below of Hrithik Das from Bangladesh, a Computer Engineering major whose parents said he was too young to go abroad. Hear what made him decide to follow his heart and study in the USA at California State University Northridge.
Gain three years of work experience after graduation in the USA
As Hrithik mentioned, the projects he worked on at CSUN used current industry technologies, which helped him easily transition into a job upon graduation. By combining the academic knowledge you gain in the classroom with real-world projects, you’ll have a better chance at getting hired after you graduate. And if you study in the USA, then you can apply for Optional Practical Training (OPT) for a chance to stay in America and work.
In fact, you can even apply for a STEM-related extension which lets you stay for up to three years! That gives you even greater chances to gain work experience, network in competitive industries, experience American work culture first-hand, and of course, it gives you an even greater return on investment from your U.S. stem degree.
Here’s what you need to keep in mind when it comes to OPT:
- Eligible students can apply to receive up to a total of 12 months of OPT employment authorization before completing their academic studies (pre-completion) and/or after completing their academic studies (post-completion).
- If you have earned a degree in certain STEM fields (see the list here), you may apply for a 24-month extension of your post-completion OPT employment authorization.
Approximately half of all international student visa holders on OPT are offered jobs in professional, scientific, or technical services, such as computer programming, computer systems or software design, biotechnology research and development as well as manufacturing including semiconductors and electronic engineering. The US Department of Labor reported that the average starting salary for foreign graduates on OPT programs was nearly $87,000 in 2019.
Where do these talented foreign students end up? Many work for technology companies such as Amazon, Integra, Intel, Google, and Microsoft. Those top five firms hired more than 1,000 OPT employees each in 2018. Among the top 15 companies hiring OPT graduates is the well-known Apple corporation, who has close ties with California State University Northridge as evidenced by a newly announced partnership.
Apple chooses CSUN for new innovation project
To inspire more students to take up STEM studies, Apple approached universities across America to explore new ways of expanding and enhancing educational opportunities for students, in particular Latinx and other students from historically underserved groups.
Given its credentials and student population, CSUN was chosen from all the other universities in the U.S. as the new home for a Global Hispanic Serving Institution (HSI) Equity Innovation Hub, created in a partnership between Apple and the state of California.
Plans have already begun for virtual programs and the new building will open in 2024, complete with research labs and a maker-space. It will be “a place to visit and a virtual source of ongoing education programs through mentorship opportunities, connections to STEM leaders and employers, and access to interdisciplinary STEM research.”
Apple will provide “innovative technology, design support and thought partnership” both as the project develops and once it’s up and running.
Competitions and clubs help you play an active role in research and testing
Another advantage of attending CSUN is its location, which most likely factored into Apple’s decision to partner with them. CSUN sits at the center of Southern California’s creative and tech economy, known as Silicon Beach, which opens up a gateway to a wide network of companies and a variety of careers following graduation.
In addition to the work experience you can gain through internships or OPT, there are also many opportunities to participate in competitions and student clubs focused exclusively on STEM fields.
For example, a team of CSUN mechanical engineering students won multiple awards in a NASA competition in Spring 2021. They were all members of CSUN’s American Society of Mechanical Engineers Student Chapter. The project was part of the NASA MINDS Undergraduate Design program, a multi-semester experience that challenges undergraduate students to design and build technologies for possible use in NASA’s Artemis mission, which aims to land the first woman and person of color on the moon by 2024.
That wasn’t the first time CSUN collaborated with NASA. Previously, two of their electrical and computer engineering professors oversaw CubeSat: a student-created, shoebox-size satellite launched from the International Space Station that contributes to NASA research today.
CSUN’s STEM students regularly participate in many competitions from Matador Motorsports to building a Concrete Canoe to their VEX Robotics Club (Matabots) even placing among the top ten robotics teams in the world in 2016.
CSUN has over 300 student clubs and organizations, and a few STEM related ones include the American Society of Civil Engineers, the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, National Society of Black Engineers, Society for Women Engineers, and the League of Asian and Pacific Islander Student Organization.
Don’t forget to fill in the form below to receive a personal invite to join an upcoming Info Session with STEM experts from CSUN!
Conditional admission offered to help international students improve their English skills
Thanks to CSUN’s Conditional Admission program (offered for both undergraduates and graduate students) there’s no need to worry about your level of English. They even have engineering-related English classes so you can customize the program to match your interests.
You can start in CSUN’s Intensive English Program (IEP) to improve your English and then transition directly into your STEM degree program. It will be an easy switch because you’ll already know the campus, plus you’ll have comfortable housing on-campus, and a network of new friends. All that’s missing is you!
See our previous article to learn more about CSUN’s English programs and get an invitation to join their next 45-minute English language session for free. You’ll be able to participate with other international students just like you in a real class led by an official CSUN teacher.
Easy access to CSUN’s short term programs for a semester or summer
If you're already studying at another institution’s STEM program, you can still experience CSUN’s amazing professors, campus environment, and California lifestyle. They offer a Summer at CSUN program that lets you earn either 6 or 12 credits in a large variety of subjects.
Or if you want to stay a bit longer, you can enrol on their Semester at CSUN program, which enables international students who meet CSUN’s English language requirements to take undergraduate university credit classes for up to one year.
Prefer to study a STEM degree online? CSUN has you covered!
No matter where you are in the world, CSUN’s online programs can give you the chance to earn credentials from a top ranked university. They offer a wide variety of part-time and full-time programs, such as these three STEM-specific ones:
- Master of Science in Engineering Management
- Master of Science Assistive Technology Engineering
- Certificate of Advanced Professional Development Smart Manufacturing
CSUN is no stranger to online degrees. They launched their first virtual program in 1999 and have been refining the curriculum every year since then in order to create an exceptional online educational experience. That means that CSUN’s online programs are not your average Zoom class! The university has a high-level team of instructional designers who custom craft each online program with each professor. Their online degrees and certificates include live class sessions, on-demand access to course materials, and daily networking opportunities.
Keep in mind that since these are online programs, you won’t be travelling to the USA so they do not give you access to an F-1 visa or OPT. But you do receive access to all of CSUN’s student support services as well as their global alumni network of more than 360,000 professionals around the world.
With so many options to choose from, you simply can’t go wrong by choosing CSUN! Fill in the form below and one of their reps will contact you to arrange a one-on-one free consultation.