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STEMM, STREAM or STEAM - what is the difference?

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STEMM, STREAM or STEAM - what is the difference?

The abbreviation STEM was created to make it easier to talk about the 4 most promising areas in education, industry and the labor market - science, technology, engineering and mathematics. Projected further job growth in professions such as computer systems analysis, software development, medicine and biomedical engineering, so graduates with STEM diplomas will be in demand in the future. But, in addition to the well-known STEM courses, STEMM, STREAM and STEAM programs exist in foreign universities. What is the difference between these courses, let's try to figure it out.

STEMM, STREAM and STEAM are the same science, technology, engineering and mathematics + an additional component related to the world of art:

  • STEMM - it's 4 basic disciplines and music
  • STREAM includes additional literature / reading (reading)
  • STEAM - art (art).

All these types of programs are aimed (along with the study of natural, engineering, exact sciences) to develop creative perception, to teach the basics of modeling and art and technical design.

The main difference between STEM and STEAM / STEAM / STEMM is that STEM focuses on scientific concepts, while other research programs explore the same concepts, but apply a creative approach. A striking example is Leonardo Da Vinci, who showed the importance of combining science and art for productive work in the field of scientific discoveries. Da Vinci applied his scientific achievements in the creation of paintings: he worked with perspective, using geometry, studied the structure of muscles for a more accurate image of the human body, studied the structure of the facial nerves to figure out which of them is “responsible” for a smile.

Benefits of expanding to STEAM, STREAM or STEMM

What is the plus of STEM programs? Students completing non-STEM programs can stay in the United States under the OPT (Optional Practical Training) program for 12 months, and STEM graduates receive OPT permission for as long as 3 years to find work or start their own project.

Dr. Hazi Jamalyan, head of educational strategy at littleBits, notes the added value of STEM’s advanced options: “This is the key to creating your own inventions, be it a device to help people with disabilities, an arcade game or a new home gadget". For Jamalian, STREAM has the potential to become more accessible and inclusive than STEM. “STEM should be accessible to everyone, regardless of origin, gender or digital knowledg”. “I think very few really understand why art should be included in STEM”, says Adam Cole, a musician and educator who developed art curricula for the Georgia Department of Education. “Those who think of art as a luxury, or as additional education, or as a lesson in their free time, seem to have absolutely no idea what its academic value is, despite all the research. Nevertheless, musicians (and other artists) learn to think like scientists, he says, but in the categories of aesthetics they learn to influence society through creative work skills”.


Not everyone is convinced that adding art, literature, or music courses to STEM is useful: some see this as blurring STEM’s focus and goals. Mark Kantrowitz, member of the Board of Trustees of the Center for Continuing Education in Education (CEE), manager of leading national STEM programs, warns against moving to STEAM / STREAM / STEMM. “Although it’s useful for STEM students to have an understanding of art and know how to communicate”, he says, “people who promote STEAM and STREAM are usually independent of the STEM community. Their goal is not to promote technological education, but they want to pay attention to art and reading".

How to choose between STEM and advanced options? Those who advocate leaving art outside the STEM argue that they already include the development of creative thinking. They worry that too much attention to subjects not related to STEM will worsen the quality of education and leave students insufficiently qualified to work in the technological, engineering and scientific fields.

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Top STEM Universities in the World

TOP-10 universities offering STEM

  1. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) , USA
  2. Stanford University , USA
  3. Cambridge University , UK
  4. ETH Zurich - Swiss Institute of Technology, Switzerland
  5. Berkeley University of California, USA
  6. Harvard University , USA
  7. Oxford University , UK
  8. Johns Hopkins University , UK
  9. Carnegie Mellon University , USA
  10. Arizona State University, USA.

Let's look at courses that combine the study of engineering, technology, mathematics and science with creative disciplines, using the example of one of the universities - Arizona State University.

STEAM Arizona State University Programs

Standard STEAM directions

A number of unusual directions for STEAM

Architect - the university is in the TOP-100 in the world in this direction (QS World University Rankings 2018)

Mechanical & Civil Engineer - takes 28th place as the best program in mechanical engineering and 24th - in urban planning (US News Education 2019)

Visual communication design

Biomedical Engineering - Ranks 40th as Best US Bachelor of Engineering (US News Education 2019)

Interior designer

Forensic Psychologist - entered the TOP-100 in the world of psychology (QS World University Rankings 2018)

Graphic Designer

Astrophysicist - Ranks 44th as a Master in Physics in the USA (US News Education 2018)

ASU's Design School is considered the largest US design school with cutting-edge equipment: Digital Lab, Red Square exhibition space, Prototype / Modeling Shop, Gallery of Design, and Design Library


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