In addition to what everyone else said, you could also create a large sphere and map a starfield texture to it. Not a great idea if you want glows and whatnot...but if you want a static background, it works. That being said, most of the ones I've seen built in Maya were done using particles or PaintFX. I've attached a very small, very quick avi test of a starfield fly-through I did using paintfx and a NURBS sphere. You can get a general idea of how it looks with paintfx even if you don't want to go that route.
"Terminat Bora Diem, Terminal Auctor opus."