BETHLEHEM, PA—Technical degrees dominated the top-paid majors lists for Class of 2015 bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates, according to results of a new 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, mechatronics engineering graduates were the top earners with an average starting salary of $80,859. (See Figure 1.) Computer science majors ($75,191) were next, followed by petroleum engineering ($74,996), operations research ($73,339), and environmental control technology ($71,443) majors.
Overall, the top salaries were loftier for Class of 2015 bachelor’s degree graduates than they were for the previous college class. Seven Class of 2015 majors had an average starting salary that topped $70,000; the Class of 2014 had just one. (See Figure 2.)
Among Class of 2015 master’s degree graduates, medical informatics and illustration majors were the top earners. (See Figure 3.) Their average starting salary of $125,769 was trailed closest by those of bioethics ($117,199), applied mathematics ($113,001), and computational science ($112,905) majors.
Since the Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey is the first that included all degree levels, there is no comparison between the average starting salaries of Class of 2015 and Class of 2014 master’s degree graduates.
Figure 1: Top salaries for Class of 2015 bachelor’s degree majors
Figure 2: Top salaries for Class of 2014 bachelor’s degree majors
Figure 3: Top salaries for Class of 2015 master’s degree majors
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 4.)
An executive summary of the survey is available on NACEWeb.
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 4: Graduates and Majors by Degree Level
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.
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