STEM vs. STEAM: The Importance of Arts

Jun 15, 2021

STEM and STEAM are two very important terms in educational parts, but the difference between these two terms is minimal. STEAM is an enhanced version of STEM. Let’s find out the details of both and understand which one is better. 

What is STEM? 

Dr. Judith Ramaley has developed STEM-centered approach to education. STEM means science, technology, engineering, and mathematics. Specifically, this system caters to the disciplines related to science like biology, engineering, agricultural science, math, economics, and other related subjects. Since the development of STEM centered approach, it was adopted in US, China, UK, France, Australia, Taiwan, and many other countries. 

Development of STEAM - an Improvement of STEM

Even after the popularity of STEM education, it was found that in terms of occupation STEM-centered approach offers a limited percentage. The rest of the occupations are non-STEM related. It means STEM cannot offer professional benefits to all even after having a very high salaried occupation. 

So what makes the non-STEM-related occupations different from the STEM ones? 

It is the creativity or arts or creative arts. This is the reason why STEM has now become STEAM. As it is seen one A is added to the STEM-centered approach and undoubtedly this A indicates Arts. the subjects or genres added to STEM after adding the A in STEM are humanities, language and literature,  drama, arts, dance, music, visual arts, designing, and new studies. 

Role of creativity

In simpler words, arts or humanities-oriented subjects were included with STEM to widen the range of subjects and also to make STEM students more job-ready. A study by National Endowment for the Arts showed that 

  • Arts students apply more than non-arts students in colleges
  • Arts students attend post-secondary education 21% more than the non-arts students
  • Arts students are equally eligible for scholarships like the non-arts ones
  • Arts students apply for STEM majors as well

Findings of this study indicate that art students don’t leave behind others. They get work opportunities just like their non-arts peers. STEAM simply broadens the range of subjects and offers an opportunity to the students to follow their passions and learn any subject with love and dedication. Parents also need to encourage their children to go for the subject they love without forcing them to go for something mainstream. 

Benefits of Arts in STEM 

A student studying mathematics may feel that there is no need of learning history or philosophy or other arts subjects. But it is believed that while hiring an employee, critical thinking is expected in the applicants. The humanities-oriented subjects blend everything beautifully and strengthen an application.  

A degree in engineering or any science-oriented subject is undoubtedly much valuable. But without empathy and creativity, these professionals will lack a number of traits related to leadership and management. Empathy and creativity are the products of arts and these make people complete. Indeed this reason makes arts an essential part of education. Maybe this is the reason behind considering STEAM as a future of education. 

innovative idea

Why STEAM is More Relevant? 

Some real-life success stories of non-STEM education include:

  • Susan Wojcicki (YouTube) had done majors in history and literature
  • Bracken Darrell (Logitech) had done a major in English
  • Stewart Butterfield (Slack) had done a major in English
  • Brian Chesky (Airbnb) had done a major in fine arts
  • Jack Ma (Alibaba) had done a bachelor’s degree in English

English, history, fine arts, and other arts-related subjects are the so-called non-STEM subjects. Dr. Jenny Nash, Head of the Education Solutions Design Team at LEGO Education mentioned that “A baker uses chemistry. A chemist develops the makeup, and a computer animator designs the on-screen special effects used in the blockbuster movies we see in theaters.” (Source:

So, STEAM is an authentic mode of education. It is not a replacement for STEM, rather STEAM is an integrated version of STEM. For core science subjects like math, architecture as well as core technical courses on IoT, Robotics, and Data Science, arts have several benefits. Arts make knowledge more compact by giving creativity and expression to it. 

creativity and science

Moving from STEM to STEAM

At present, employers giving high value to humanities, and a number of job roles are meant for art students. Therefore, they are nothing less than the STEM students. STEAM has created equality and this system is welcomed and much appreciated. 

To conclude, STEAM is not a new concept; rather STEAM is just an improvement of STEM. by this improvement, more subjects are brought together under one umbrella and more students are encouraged to follow their passion for arts. STEAM definitely challenges the age-old perceptions that a science-oriented subject means a better job and a better future. 21st-century jobs need creativity, confidence, and critical thinking, so arts is mandatory. More than this, it diversifies education and showed a way treat all the learners equally.

Article Posted in: Academics


A blogger turned content editor, Rachita curates the blogs for MyPrivateTutor Thailand. She loves researching and she is fascinated by the unusual facts that come by. Apart from education and e-Learning, she loves to write on sustainable fashion, food, movies, and social media trends. 

Related Posts