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Monday, March 2, 2015

SMU COX School of Business ITOM Concentration: A STEM accredited program

All's well that ends well!! The past 3 months have been nothing short of a tumultuous roller coaster ride for me and my family. For those of you who have read my earlier blog " 2 states - Can I claim it's my story? ", I would like to give you a quick heads that my story indeed had a happy ending and I was lucky enough to marry the love of my life!! I would surely write a part two of that blog to furnish more details because my today's post is strictly restricted to the ITOM(Information Technology and Operations Management) concentration at SMU COX School of Business. To give you guys some context, last April I wrote the GMAT. In the following months, I applied to several B schools in US, Canada and India and secured 8 admits with decent scholarships. After weighing down several factors in an excel, IT guy here :) , the cumulative score of COX School of Business came out on top and hence I decided to pursue "My American Dream". For those of you eager to learn more about the school, head straight to this link: http://coxbschool.blogspot.in/ 

SMU COX School of Business MBA US GMAT Dallas Texas

One of the fundamental parameters in my decision making was the STEM accredited ITOM concentration at the school. For those of you not familiar with the term, worry not just read on! STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, Math. There are certain programs in US that are STEM accredited which in turn has an impact on the length of the OPT period granted to the students upon graduation. You guys must be like what's OPT now? If not, you are well researched individuals and definitely better than I was an year ago. For the less enlightened souls like me, an OPT stands for Optional Practical Training in US. So? So that is the status you can use to stay in US and apply the concepts you learned in your program, MBA in my case, while working with a U.S. firm. Now here is where the fun starts.

What if I told you that the maximum term available for an OPT is just 12 months. Just 12 months? But I did a 2 year course and thus shouldn't I be granted the same period if not more? I am sure these questions would have popped up in your head when you read that piece of information but I stand by my words: OPT period is only 12 months after which one needs a valid visa to continue working in US which is an H1B in our case. Now I am sure all of us are aware of the complications around H1B visa least of which is the lottery system. Sure there are 20k visas dedicated specially to the Post Graduates in US but the number of applications for those as well is far more than the 20k quota. If a postgraduate student does not manage to get the Visa in the 20k pool, he moves to the general pool where there are 65k visas available on offer. To give an additional data fact, in 2013-2014 there were 172k applications, inclusive of the postgraduate applicants, for these 85k H1B visas. 50% hit rate!!!

Moving on, the OPT period for a STEM accredited program is also 12 months to begin with but if certain criteria are met, one can get this extended by another 17 months. I would recommend everyone to take some time out and go through this link: 

I am sure everyone would agree that this extension will give you enough breathing space, time to re-plan, look for better opportunities and finally another shot at the highly coveted H1B visa in case you face a rejection in the first attempt. I would also like to highlight that traditionally the MBA degree is not a STEM degree in US and thus if your H1B application is rejected in the first attempt, you will not be entitled to stay in US beyond your OPT period. There are certain workarounds around that situation as well but lets save that for another post. Having spoken to a lot of co-applicants as well as current MBA students in USA, I realized that not many were aware of these caveats around the H1B situation. So don't just go by those rosy stories that you know about your seniors and far-off relatives who are comfortably working in US, wake up call things have changed!

I want to clarify one additional point here. I did mention that the STEM accredited program at COX was one of the fundamental parameters in my decision to join the B School but it was by no means the biggest factor. There are several other exciting programs at Cox that were paramount in my decision making and I would recommend you all to take a look at this wonderful blog to learn more about the B school : http://coxbschool.blogspot.in/

I would also like to highlight that the School and Program fit, Reputation, Location, Faculty and Infrastructure, Global Exposure and Diversity, Internship and Placement trends, Total Debt are definitely the factors worth considering before you make your decision. Just as I mentioned, prepare an excel and come up with a cumulative score for each school based on the factors that are important in your decision making.

The objective of this post was to bring to light one of the lesser known facts about the MBA degree offered by Cox School of Business(major with ITOM concentration). Believe me, none of the admitted students (India Class of 2017) were aware of this fact and we only got to know about it from one of the seniors in a skype session. It just made the deal a lot sweeter for all of us. There are several other outstanding programs at the school and I would like to appeal to everyone to look at the blog I mentioned earlier.

We, SMU COX Class of 2017 students, will keep updating our blog with several useful information about the SMU COX School of Business and thus stay tuned for several such posts in the coming months. Till then stay blessed!!!

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