July 20, 2016 | By NACE Staff
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Eighty-eight percent of master’s degree graduates and 92 percent of doctoral graduates from the Class of 2015 had positive outcomes at the six-month mark after the close of the school year, according to NACE’s Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey report.
This year’s survey marks the first time that NACE collected data on first-destination outcomes for students graduating with advanced degrees. While comparisons to advanced degree graduates from the Class of 2014 are not possible, the results for these graduates are interesting in and of themselves.
More than 70 percent of master’s degree graduates from the Class of 2015 had landed a full-time position in a traditional employer/employee setting within six months of graduation. (See Figure 1.) Another 9 percent were employed either part time or in a more entrepreneurial setting, while 8 percent were pursuing another degree.
As for starting salary, the master’s degree demonstrates a sizable increase over graduating with an undergraduate degree. The average salary for master’s graduates with a full-time position from the Class of 2015 was $65,818—more than 31 percent higher than the average starting salary of a 2015 graduate with a bachelor’s degree ($50,219).
Although the number of schools responding with outcomes information for doctoral graduates was low and these results should be taken with caution, the results do move in the anticipated direction—stronger outcomes as one moves up the degree ladder.
More than 61 percent of doctoral graduates were employed in a full-time position with a traditional employer six months after the end of the class year, which is a drop compared with master’s degree recipients. (See Figure 2.) However, another 27.5 percent of the doctoral degree graduates were employed in settings other than those defined as traditional. Many of these “other” settings are in fact highly traditional for these degrees. For example, nearly 6 percent were employed as faculty and another 15 percent had post-doctoral positions.
In addition, Class of 2015 doctoral degree graduates earned an average starting salary of $75,030, 14 percent higher than their master’s counterparts and 49 percent more than bachelor’s degree graduates.
For NACE’s Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey, 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. An executive summary of the survey, which also covered first destinations for associate, master’s, and doctoral degree-level graduates, is available on NACEWeb.
Figure 1: Class of 2015 Master’s Degree Summary Outcomes
Figure 2: Class of 2015 Doctoral Degree Summary Outcomes
Overall unemployment rate
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Unemployment rate, bachelor’s degree grads age 20 – 24
Bureau of Labor Statistics
Average starting salary, Class of 2017 bachelor’s degree graduate
Fall 2017 Salary Survey
Increase in hiring projected for Class of 2018 over Class of 2017
Job Outlook 2018
Percent of Class of 2016 bachelor’s degree grads employed or pursuing more education
First Destinations for the College Class of 2016