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Starting Salaries for College Graduates Leveling Off

BETHLEHEM, PA—Starting salaries for new college graduates earning bachelor’s degrees—especially those in the traditionally higher-paying disciplines—seem to be leveling off, according to results of a new survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE)

Employers responding to NACE’s Winter 2023 Salary Survey expect to pay Class of 2023 graduates earning bachelor’s degrees in both the engineering ($74,405) and math and sciences ($67,199) disciplines average salaries that are just 0.7% higher than they projected last year. (See Figure 1.)

Meanwhile, the average starting salary for bachelor’s degree graduates studying computer science is expected to fall by 4.0% compared to a year ago. Despite this drop, among the fields chronicled in Salary Survey, computer science graduates are projected to have the second highest average salary offer ($72,843), after engineering graduates.

“The drop in starting salary for computer science majors is likely the result of recent recalibration among tech companies, which have traditionally offered top dollar,” explains Shawn VanDerziel, NACE Executive Director.

“In terms of starting salary, this effectively puts these graduates back where their Class of 2021 counterparts were.”

Still, computer science graduates are in high demand from other industries. In fact, two-thirds of employers taking part in the survey expect to hire computer science graduates. Only finance majors are expected to draw more interest. (See Figure 2.)

Other disciplines—business, agriculture and natural resources, communications, and humanities—are expected to see increases in their average starting salary ranging from 2.3% to 4.8%, while social sciences is the only other discipline projected to experience a dip in starting salary.

Figure 1

Figure 2

About the Winter 2023 Salary Survey report: The Winter 2023 Salary Survey report contains annual salary projections for Class of 2023 college graduates. The figures reported are for base salaries only and do not include bonuses, commissions, fringe benefits, or overtime rates. The report provides the detailed salary projections by academic major and degree level, along with breakouts by both industry and geographic region. Data contained in the report were obtained by surveying NACE employer members from October 5, 2022, through December 5, 2022. A total of 170 surveys were returned—a 19.5% response rate. An executive summary is available on NACEWeb.

About the National Association of Colleges and Employers: Established in 1956, the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) is the only professional association in the United States that connects nearly 11,000 college career services professionals, more than 3,600 university relations and recruiting professionals, and more than 400 business solution providers that serve this community.

NACE is the premier source of market research on career readiness and employment of recent college graduates. NACE forecasts hiring and trends in the job market; tracks salaries, recruiting and hiring practices, and student attitudes and outcomes; and identifies best practices and benchmarks.

NACE offers its members unparalleled research, networking and professional development opportunities, guidance on standards and ethics, and advocacy on key issues. For more information, visit NACE maintains a virtual press room for the media.