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  • Class of 2016 Master’s Graduates Had Strong Outcomes

    February 07, 2018 | By NACE Staff

    Graduate Outcomes
    Master's degree grads on graduation day.

    TAGS: first destination, graduate outcomes, salaries, nace insights

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    Supported by a strong employment market for students earning master’s degrees, members of the Class of 2016 earning these advanced degrees notched a strong set of outcomes, according to NACE’s First Destinations for the College Class of 2016 report.

    Slightly more than 89 percent of graduates with master’s degrees had a positive outcome by the end of the six-month period after the close of the class year. While still a strong showing, this was down slightly from the 89.6 percent outcome rate for the master’s graduates from the Class of 2015.

    The percentage of master’s graduates employed overall rose from 79.2 percent in 2015 to 80.2 percent in 2016; the percentage of those with full-time positions in the “standard” labor market increased from 70.6 percent in 2015 to 71 percent in 2016.

    The average salary for Class of 2016 master’s graduates with a full-time position was $65,213—a decrease of 0.9 percent when compared with the average master’s graduate salary in 2015. However, because the average starting salary for undergraduates—$49,525—experienced an even bigger decrease this year of 1.4 percent, the differential between master’s and bachelor’s degree salaries grew from 31 percent in 2015 to 31.9 percent in 2016.

    First Destinations for the College Class of 2016 reports on outcomes for graduates at all levels—from associate through doctoral degree; reporting institutions represent more than 650,000 2016 graduates. Download the report and view outcomes data for bachelor’s and master’s degree graduates by region, Carnegie Classification, academic discipline, and other parameters at

    Figure 1: Master’s Degree Summary Outcomes, Class of 2016 vs. Class of 2015

    Outcome Class of 2016 Class of 2015
    Employed, full-time standard job 71.0% 70.6%
    Employed, other 9.2% 8.6%
    Continuing education 6.4% 8.0%
    Service/military 1.2% 1.0%
    Seeking 10.8% 11.8%
    Source: First Destinations for the College Class of 2016, National Association of Colleges and Employers