NACE Logo NACE Center Logo
National Association of Colleges and Employers NACE Center for Career Development and Talent Acquisition
mobile menu
  • STEM Graduates Expected to Be Top Paid in Class of 2017

    CONTACT: Kevin Gray, 610.868.1421, ext. 139
    Andrea Koncz, 610.868.1421, ext. 121
    DATE: January 24, 2017
    SUBJECT: STEM Graduates Expected to Be Top Paid in Class of 2017

    BETHLEHEM, PA—When it comes to the top projected starting salaries for Class of 2017 graduates, the STEM disciplines still rule, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

    Employers responding to NACE’s Winter 2017 Salary Survey project that average starting salaries for engineering, computer science, and math and sciences graduates will be the highest among Class of 2017 graduates earning bachelor’s degrees.

    Although these technical majors are on top, employers anticipate boosting the starting salaries from last year across all categories of majors in this report, with average increases ranging from 2 percent to 15 percent.

    The projected average starting salary for engineering majors overall is $66,097, almost 2 percent more than that for Class of 2016 engineering graduates. (See Figure 1.) The catalyst for this nudge is that the projected average salaries for all of the individual engineering majors exceed $60,000.

    Graduates earning computer science and math and sciences degrees are expected to see greater gains than their engineering classmates. The salary projection for graduates earning computer science degrees is $65,540, which is up almost 7 percent from last year. Likewise, at $59,368, the average salary projection for math and science degrees has jumped 7.8 percent from last year.

    The average salary projection for Class of 2017 business majors is $54,803, an increase of nearly 5 percent over last year’s average.

    Meanwhile, although the projected starting salaries for Class of 2017 social sciences and communications graduates are down the list in terms of the highest-paid majors, they do have the highest projected increases in average starting salary at 15 percent and 10 percent, respectively.

    The average projected salary for Class of 2017 social sciences graduates has climbed to $53,459, while employers plan to pay communications graduates an average of $51,925.

    Salaries for humanities graduates are also projected to be on the rise, although not as dramatically. The average salary projection of $48,733 for the Class of 2017 is up 5.8 percent over last year’s average projection.

    Figure 1: Projected average salaries by discipline, bachelor’s degrees

    Broad Category 2017 Average 2016 Average
    Engineering $66,097 $64,891
    Computer Science $65,540 $61,321
    Math & Sciences $59,368 $55,087
    Business $54,803 $52,236
    Agriculture & Natural Resources $54,364 $48,729
    Social Sciences $53,459 $46,585
    Communications $51,925 $47,047
    Humanities $48,733 $46,065
    Source: Winter 2017 Salary Survey, National Association of Colleges and Employers

    About Salary Survey: The data contained in NACE's Winter 2017 Salary Survey were obtained by surveying NACE employer members from August 5, 2016, through November 30, 2016. A total of 243 surveys were returned for a 25.3 percent response rate. Of those responding, 14.8 percent of respondents were from the West, 23.5 percent were from the Northeast, 29.6 percent were from the Southeast, and 32.1 percent were from the Midwest.

    An executive summary of the Winter 2017 Salary Survey report is available at

    (Note: The Spring 2017 Salary Survey report will include final starting salary data for the Class of 2016. The final report for the Class of 2017 will be available in spring 2018.)

    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 NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media at