Is Health Science A Stem Major? An In-Depth Look

STEM majors lead to some of the most in-demand and highest paying careers. If you’re interested in a health science degree, you may be wondering – is health science considered a STEM major? While health science shares similarities with science and math-based fields, its classification as STEM is a complex issue.

If you’re short on time, here’s a quick answer: Health science is generally not categorized as a traditional STEM field, but it does include significant overlap with science and math. Some health science concentrations may qualify for STEM designation.

Defining STEM and Health Science

Overview of STEM fields

STEM stands for Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics. It encompasses a wide range of academic disciplines that are interconnected and heavily rely on each other. The STEM fields are known for their emphasis on problem-solving, critical thinking, and innovation.

These fields are essential for technological advancements and play a significant role in shaping our society.

Science involves the study of the natural world and its phenomena, while technology focuses on the practical application of scientific knowledge. Engineering is about designing and creating solutions to real-world problems, and mathematics provides the tools and language to understand and quantify these phenomena.

STEM fields are highly sought after due to their relevance in today’s world. They offer a wide range of career opportunities, from research and development to data analysis and software engineering.

Varieties of health science programs

Health science programs, on the other hand, focus specifically on the study of healthcare and the human body. These programs are designed to equip students with the knowledge and skills necessary for careers in the healthcare industry.

Health science encompasses various disciplines, including medicine, nursing, pharmacy, public health, and biomedical sciences.

Health science programs can vary in their focus and curriculum. Some programs are more specialized, such as medical school or nursing programs, which train students for specific healthcare professions.

Others are broader, offering a general foundation in health sciences and allowing students to specialize later on.

Health science programs often include coursework in biology, anatomy, physiology, pharmacology, epidemiology, and medical ethics. Students may also have the opportunity to gain hands-on experience through internships, clinical rotations, or research projects.

Similarities and differences

While health science falls under the broader umbrella of STEM fields, it is important to note the distinctions between them. Health science focuses specifically on healthcare and the study of the human body, whereas STEM fields encompass a broader range of disciplines.

Both STEM and health science fields require a strong foundation in science and mathematics. They emphasize critical thinking, problem-solving, and data analysis. However, health science programs also incorporate elements of human anatomy, physiology, and patient care.

It is worth mentioning that many health science programs require a solid understanding of STEM subjects. For example, a degree in pharmacy or biomedical sciences requires a strong background in chemistry and biology.

Math and Science in Health Science

When it comes to pursuing a degree in Health Science, students can expect a strong emphasis on math and science courses. These subjects form the foundation of the field, providing the necessary knowledge and skills to understand the complexities of human health and medicine.

Math requirements

In Health Science, students will often encounter math courses such as statistics and calculus. These courses are essential for analyzing and interpreting data, conducting research, and making evidence-based decisions in the field.

Understanding mathematical concepts and applying them to real-world scenarios is crucial for success in Health Science.

Core science courses

Health Science majors can also expect to take a variety of core science courses, including biology, chemistry, and anatomy. These courses provide a solid understanding of the human body, its functions, and the scientific principles behind diseases and treatments.

By studying these sciences, students gain a comprehensive knowledge base that prepares them for future healthcare careers.

Using math and science skills

Once in the workforce, Health Science professionals utilize their math and science skills in numerous ways. They may analyze patient data to identify trends, calculate medication dosages, or interpret research studies.

These skills are vital for providing accurate diagnoses, developing treatment plans, and ensuring patient safety.

Additionally, math and science skills enable Health Science professionals to stay up-to-date with the latest advancements in the field. They can critically evaluate new research studies, understand complex medical concepts, and apply evidence-based practices to improve patient outcomes.

Technology and Engineering in Health Science

When it comes to the field of Health Science, technology and engineering play a crucial role in advancing healthcare practices and improving patient outcomes. With the rapid advancements in technology, healthcare professionals are now able to utilize various tools and techniques to diagnose, treat, and monitor illnesses.

Use of technology and engineering

One of the key areas where technology and engineering have made a significant impact is in medical imaging. Advanced imaging techniques such as MRI (Magnetic Resonance Imaging), CT (Computed Tomography), and ultrasound have revolutionized the way doctors diagnose and monitor diseases.

These technologies provide detailed images of the internal structures of the body, allowing healthcare professionals to detect abnormalities and plan appropriate treatment.

Another area where technology has played a vital role is in the development of medical devices. From pacemakers to artificial limbs, engineers have worked hand in hand with healthcare professionals to design and create devices that improve the quality of life for patients.

These devices not only enhance patient comfort but also enable individuals with disabilities to lead more independent lives.

Innovations in healthcare

The integration of technology and engineering has also led to exciting innovations in healthcare. For example, telemedicine has emerged as a game-changer, allowing patients to consult with healthcare providers remotely.

This technology has proven especially beneficial in rural areas where access to healthcare services may be limited. Patients can now receive medical advice and even have virtual consultations without the need to travel long distances.

Furthermore, the use of robotics in surgery has revolutionized the field of healthcare. Robotic-assisted surgeries offer enhanced precision and control, allowing surgeons to perform complex procedures with greater accuracy.

This technology has led to reduced post-operative complications and faster recovery times for patients.

Limitations compared to core STEM fields

While technology and engineering have undoubtedly transformed the field of Health Science, it is important to note that Health Science is not traditionally considered a core STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) field.

The primary reason for this distinction is that Health Science encompasses a broader range of disciplines, including biology, chemistry, and psychology, in addition to technology and engineering.

However, this does not diminish the significance of technology and engineering within Health Science. In fact, the integration of these disciplines has paved the way for groundbreaking discoveries and innovations in healthcare.

It is essential to recognize the interdisciplinary nature of Health Science and the valuable contributions made by technology and engineering in advancing the field.

Classifying Health Science Concentrations

When it comes to health science, there are several different concentrations to choose from. Each concentration focuses on a specific area within the field, allowing students to specialize and pursue their interests.

Here, we’ll take an in-depth look at some of the main classifications within health science.

Public health vs. clinical health science

One of the key distinctions in health science is between public health and clinical health science. Public health focuses on protecting and improving the health of communities and populations through prevention strategies, policy implementation, and health education.

Clinical health science, on the other hand, involves direct patient care and the diagnosis, treatment, and management of various health conditions.

Public health professionals may work in government agencies, non-profit organizations, or research institutions, while clinical health science professionals often work in hospitals, clinics, or private practices.

Overlap with biology and biomedical engineering

Health science also has significant overlap with biology and biomedical engineering. Many health science programs require a strong foundation in biology, as understanding the human body and its systems is essential for healthcare professionals.

Biomedical engineering combines principles of engineering and biology to develop medical devices and technologies, bridging the gap between engineering and healthcare.

Having knowledge in both biology and biomedical engineering can open up a wide range of career opportunities in the health science field, including research, medical device development, and healthcare management.

Radiologic technology and lab science

Another area within health science is radiologic technology and lab science. Radiologic technology involves the use of imaging techniques, such as X-rays, CT scans, and MRIs, to diagnose and treat medical conditions.

Professionals in this field work closely with physicians and other healthcare providers to perform diagnostic tests and interpret the results.

Lab science, on the other hand, focuses on the analysis of biological samples in a laboratory setting. This can include testing for diseases, monitoring patient health, and conducting research. Lab scientists play a crucial role in the diagnosis and treatment of various health conditions.

Bioinformatics and computational health science

A rapidly growing area within health science is bioinformatics and computational health science. This field involves the use of computer science, statistics, and biological data to analyze and interpret complex biological information.

It plays a vital role in genomics, personalized medicine, and drug discovery.

As technology continues to advance, the demand for professionals with expertise in bioinformatics and computational health science is increasing. They are crucial in harnessing the power of big data and developing innovative solutions to improve healthcare outcomes.

The Value of STEM Designation

Health Science is indeed considered a STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) major, and this designation carries numerous benefits for students pursuing a career in this field. Let’s explore some of the advantages of being a STEM major in the field of Health Science.

Access to STEM scholarships

One of the key benefits of having a STEM designation is the increased access to scholarships specifically tailored for STEM students. Many organizations, foundations, and universities offer financial aid opportunities exclusively for students pursuing degrees in STEM fields.

These scholarships can help alleviate the financial burden of tuition fees and other educational expenses, allowing students to focus more on their studies and career development.

Recruitment by STEM employers

With the growing demand for professionals in the field of Health Science, having a STEM degree can significantly enhance job prospects. STEM employers, such as pharmaceutical companies, research institutions, and healthcare organizations, actively seek out graduates with quantitative and analytical skills to fill their positions.

By being a STEM major in Health Science, students increase their chances of being recruited by these prestigious employers, opening doors to exciting career opportunities in cutting-edge research and innovation.

Signaling quantitative and analytical skills

The STEM designation provides a powerful signal to potential employers about a student’s proficiency in quantitative and analytical skills. Health Science majors who have completed rigorous coursework in mathematics, statistics, and scientific research methodologies are well-equipped to analyze complex data, conduct experiments, and make evidence-based decisions.

This expertise is highly valued in the healthcare industry, where the ability to interpret and apply statistical information can directly impact patient care and outcomes.

According to a study conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, STEM graduates tend to earn higher salaries compared to their non-STEM counterparts. This further underscores the value of a STEM designation in Health Science, as it can lead to greater earning potential and financial stability in the long run.

STEM Skills and Health Science Careers

When it comes to health science, many people may not immediately associate it with STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering, and Mathematics) majors. However, in recent years, there has been a growing recognition of the important role that STEM skills play in the field of health science.

In fact, these skills are becoming increasingly crucial for professionals in healthcare careers.

Data analysis in healthcare

One way that STEM skills are integrated into health science careers is through data analysis. With the advent of electronic health records and the collection of vast amounts of patient data, healthcare professionals are now tasked with analyzing this information to improve patient outcomes and enhance the quality of care.

This requires a strong foundation in statistics, data interpretation, and the ability to draw meaningful conclusions from complex datasets.

According to a study published in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association, data analysis skills are essential for healthcare professionals to identify patterns, trends, and potential risk factors that can inform clinical decision-making.

By leveraging data analysis techniques, healthcare providers can better understand disease prevalence, treatment effectiveness, and population health trends, leading to more informed and evidence-based healthcare practices.

Technology integrated into delivery of care

Another way STEM skills are relevant in health science careers is through the integration of technology into the delivery of care. From telemedicine platforms to wearable devices that monitor patient vitals, technology has revolutionized the healthcare industry.

Professionals in health science careers need to be well-versed in utilizing these technological advancements to provide efficient and effective patient care.

For example, electronic health records (EHRs) have become a standard practice in healthcare settings. These digital systems allow healthcare professionals to securely store and access patient information, streamline workflows, and promote collaboration among different providers.

Having the skills to navigate and effectively utilize EHRs is crucial for healthcare professionals in today’s technologically advanced healthcare landscape.

Problem-solving and critical thinking abilities

STEM majors, such as engineering and mathematics, also cultivate problem-solving and critical thinking abilities, which are highly valuable in health science careers. Healthcare professionals are often faced with complex and multifaceted challenges that require innovative solutions.

For instance, doctors and researchers working on finding new treatments for diseases like cancer rely on their problem-solving skills to develop novel therapies and improve patient outcomes. By applying critical thinking abilities, healthcare professionals can analyze data, evaluate different treatment options, and make informed decisions that can potentially save lives.


While traditional definitions may exclude health science from STEM, the field increasingly relies on scientific, mathematical, and technical skills. Students interested in a science-based healthcare career can highlight the STEM abilities gained through their health science major.

With balanced coursework and internships, health science graduates can demonstrate their value in technical healthcare settings.

Focus on developing the STEM knowledge that aligns with your career goals. A health science degree with the right courses can provide both strong healthcare preparation and key STEM capabilities.

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