The Issues
Dentistry Added to Suggested List of STEM Degrees
Dentistry Added to Suggested List of STEM Degrees

In March 2011, the ASDA House of Delegates passed resolution 303-2011, “The Inclusion of Dentistry as a STEM Designated Degree Program.” The executive committee made a request to the Department of Education and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement on April 11, 2011 to add dentistry as a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) degree.

On May 19, 2011, ASDA was informed that the DHS would add dentistry to the list of currently suggested codes they maintain per the requirements of the Interim Final Rule. 

As of June 25, 2012, ASDA reapplied for the formal inclusion of dentistry as a STEM designated degree. 

When will we know if the degree was officially added?

The federal government's review of suggested degrees, including dentistry, is ongoing. ASDA could not get confirmation on how long the process will take. Once a decision is made about the addition, an announcement will be made on the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement website.

If dentistry is added, how will it affect dental students?

Including dentistry as a STEM designated degree program will support American-trained international dental students. Currently, advanced standing dental students have 12 months to seek additional technical training post-graduation. Individuals with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) degrees have a 17-month extension of the student visa to seek additional technical training. The addition of dentistry to STEM would give international students 29 months.

Read more in this STEM fact sheet.

Why did ASDA support this effort?

The Mission Statement of ASDA states:

The American Student Dental Association is a national student-run organization that protects and advances the rights, interests and welfare of dental students. It introduces students to lifelong involvement in organized dentistry and provides services, information, education, representation and advocacy. 

This letter of request and subsequent follow-up serves as a perfect example of how ASDA is continuing to advocate and serve our dental student members.

Is this change a work force issue?

No. The Department of Education and the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement will add dentistry as a STEM degree if they feel there is no impingement on the dentists that are American citizens. ASDA does not have the expertise or authority to evaluate the workforce issue. The DOE and USICE do this regularly for all professions in STEM and are charged to make a decision that does not impose on the American citizen.

For more resources for international or advanced standing dental students, click here.

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