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SIOP Responds to DHS NPRM, Advocates for I-O in STEM Definition


by SIOP Administrative Office

SIOP submitted comments to the Department of Homeland Security (DHS) November 17 to advocate for the inclusion of social and behavioral sciences in the Department’s definition of science, technology, engineering, and mathematic (STEM) fields.

The comments were in response to a notice of proposed rulemaking (NPRM) issued by DHS to improve and expand F-1 nonimmigrant student visa regulations, allowing certain students with STEM degrees attending U.S. institutions of higher education to apply for extended optional practical training (OPT).  This change would greatly improve job prospects for STEM graduates through enhanced training and wage protection, and provide added flexibility for their employers.

In comments, SIOP urges DHS to adopt the National Science Foundation (NSF) definition of STEM rather than the proposed adoption of the Department of Education’s National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) definition, which does not include social and behavioral sciences.  SIOP emphasizes NSF’s role as the federal government’s primary supporter of STEM education programs and research, and the primary agency tasked by the Administration to teach and retain undergraduate STEM majors with the ultimate goal of preparing one million more STEM students over a decade.  Further, per the NPRM, the reasoning for adopting the NCES STEM definition is to ensure STEM degree fields of “particular academic and practical demand for the U.S. and international community” are represented. However, by adopting the NCES definition, DHS would be limiting the study and practice of the fastest growing occupation in the United States: industrial-organizational (I-O) psychology. The U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that between 2012 and 2020 the growth rate of I-O psychology will reach 53%.

SIOP’s response to the NPRM champions the vast importance of I-O psychology and encourages DHS to respond to the growing demand for I-O psychology professionals in the United States.  SIOP is dedicated to ensuring that federal agencies are aware of the critical significance of I-O psychology and that it is recognized as a key STEM concentration in all future federal initiatives to expand and improve STEM.

To learn more about SIOP’s advocacy work, visit the SIOP Government Relations page.