• Class of 2015 Liberal Arts
    Majors Make Job-Market Gains


    CONTACT: Kevin Gray, 610.868.1421, ext. 139
    Andrea Koncz, 610.868.1421, ext. 121
    E-MAIL: kgray@naceweb.org
    akoncz@naceweb.org
    DATE: October 18, 2016
    SUBJECT: Class of 2015 Liberal Arts Majors Make Job-Market Gains

    BETHLEHEM, PA—Liberal arts and humanities majors from the Class of 2015 who graduated with bachelor’s degrees experienced greater success in the job market than did their counterparts from the Class of 2014, according to results of a survey from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    NACE’s Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey found that at the bachelor’s degree level, most liberal arts and humanities majors not only saw increases in full-time employment over the Class of 2014, but netted higher average starting salaries as well.

    Area studies (6.4 percent) and languages (4.5 percent) majors from the Class of 2015 posted the largest gains in full-time employment over their counterparts from the Class of 2014. (See Figure 1.) Only visual and performing arts majors suffered a decline (-2.3 percent) in the percentage of graduates employed full time.

    In terms of starting salaries, Class of 2015 area studies (26.4 percent), languages (14.3 percent), English (13.6 percent), and philosophy (13.3 percent) majors all earned salaries that averaged more than 13 percent more than did their predecessors from the Class of 2014. (See Figure 2.)

    Figure 1: Percent change in liberal arts graduates employed full time, from Class of 2014 to Class of 2015

    Major Percentage change in graduates employed FT
    Area Studies 6.4%
    Languages 4.5%
    English 3.7%
    History 2.8%
    Philosophy 0.9%
    Visual and Performing Arts -2.3%
    Source: Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers. All data are for bachelor’s degree graduates and represent initial post-graduation outcomes as of December 31, 2015.

    Figure 2: Percent change in liberal arts graduates’ average full-time salary, from Class of 2014 to Class of 2015

    Major Percentage change in average starting salary
    Area Studies 26.4%
    Languages 14.3%
    English 13.6%
    Philosophy 13.3%
    Visual and Performing Arts 6.2%
    History 3.7%
    Source: Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers. All data are for bachelor’s degree graduates and represent initial post-graduation outcomes as of December 31, 2015.

    About the Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey: NACE’s Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey is the only national survey focused on outcomes of new college graduates that uses uniform standards for data collection and reporting. This annual survey, inaugurated with the Class of 2014, provides clear, concise, and consistent data on the outcomes associated with a college education on a national scale.

    The Class of 2015 survey is the first iteration to extend to all degree levels; it includes outcomes information for associate-, bachelor’s-, master’s-, and doctoral-level graduates. (The Class of 2014 survey covered associate- and bachelor’s-level graduates only.)

    A total of 279 colleges and universities nationwide, representing nearly half a million graduates, provided data for Class of 2015 associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral degree graduates. Overall, data were reported for nearly 244,000 bachelor’s degree graduates in 34 broad disciplines and 185 majors, making this study the most comprehensive view of bachelor’s degree outcomes available. (For details about the number of graduates from other degree levels covered through the survey, see Figure 3.)

    An executive summary of the survey as well as detailed results are available on the NACE website.

    The Class of 2016 survey, which captures data for those graduating July 1, 2015, through June 30, 2016, is currently underway. Data will be collected through December 30, 2016, reported to NACE through March 2017, and published in spring 2017.

    Figure 3: Graduates and Majors by Degree Level

    Degree level Number of graduates
    Associate 4,902
    Bachelor’s 243,642
    Master’s 38,411
    Doctoral 6,377
    Source: Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers, www.naceweb.org

    About NACE: Since 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) has been the leading source of information about the employment of college graduates. For more information, visit www.naceweb.org NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media at http://www.naceweb.org/press-releases.aspx.