Are you considering taking a STEM degree program in college or university? Are you overwhelmed by all the choices of programs and schools to choose?

Choosing the right program from the best STEM colleges requires thoughtful research and reflection.

Here are some factors to consider when choosing the right program for you!

Scenes from a STEM college. Students and professors work together in labs.

Accreditation Status and Reputation

First, you want to make sure the STEM program is accredited by the appropriate governing body.

For example, For undergraduate engineering programs in Canada, you want to make sure they're accredited by the Canadian Engineering Accreditation Board of Engineers Canada.This ensures you'll have the necessary academic qualifications to obtain a professional engineering license (P.Eng) in Canada.

Daniel Kaluya disappointed that his STEM program isn't properly accredited

In terms of reputation, some schools are more well-known for certain programs than others. For example:

  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is known for its computer science and engineering programs.

  • University of Oxford has a world-renowned medical science program (the Oxford Medical School).

To determine the program's accreditation status, you can visit:

Courses and Facilities

The best STEM colleges set themselves apart because of their hands-on lab course load. Looking for a school that has lots of hands-on lab time in its courses is a big factor in choosing which program to choose.

student using lab equipment for school Photo by Jeswin Thomas on Unsplash

For example, if you're looking for an engineering, science, or technology program, choosing a program with lots of labs is more beneficial compared to, say, a math program (still important, but maybe not as much as the others).

For information on courses, most schools' websites will include a program guide and course calendar outlining the program's mandatory and elective courses. For facilities, you can:

  • Contact the college's admission office or program coordinator.

  • Attend a college info session.

  • Look online for the courses' syllabi and virtual campus tours.

Internship and Job Placement Opportunities

The best STEM colleges offer internships and cooperative education opportunities, allowing students to get hands-on professional experience in the field they are studying.

This most likely puts graduates ahead of candidates who may not have professional work opportunities during school.

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Additionally, these job placements allow students to build professional connections with people in the field, setting them up for success in later internships and when they're looking to start a career after school.

So, considering a school with strong connections in your desired industry goes a long way in getting your career started.

A man cheering as he presents an award to an intern. He says.

You can visit the career center website of the college you are interested in to find out more! Look for job boards and contacts of internship coordinators.

Campus Culture

A school culture with plenty of support (tutoring and career counselling) can be advantageous as the best STEM college programs are inherently challenging.

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Additionally, you may want to consider programs that have a plentiful amount of student organizations to join to help alleviate the stress and workload of the academic portion of the program.

Students working together in an after-school club. Photo by Austin Distel on Unsplash

Quiz: Taylor's Degree Search

Taylor is a high school student who is interested in pursuing a STEM degree program. He has a passion for engineering and computer science.

He has the option to choose between three universities:

  • University A is well-known for its strong engineering program because of its phenomenal facilities and lab equipment.

  • University B has a reputation for its exceptional computer science program and its internship opportunities.

  • University C has a great applied mathematics program, lots of tutoring and mentorship opportunities. However, it isn't reputable for its engineering or computer science programs, and offers few job placement opportunities. road sign college bound with traffic direction arrow

Which option is NOT a good idea for Taylor to choose?

A. Choose A for its strong engineering program with lots of lab facilities.

B. Choose B for its exceptional computer science program and internship opportunities.

C. Choose C for its great math program and culture (tutoring and mentorship).


Which option is NOT a good idea for Taylor to choose?

Take Action

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Here are some next steps to help you look for a STEM degree program:


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