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Technical disciplines earn top dollar among master's degree graduates
The overall average salary for bachelor's degree graduates from the Class of 2015 is 5.2 percent higher than the final average salary reported for the Class of 2014, according to a new report from the nonprofit National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
NACE Fall 2015 Salary Survey shows that the overall average salary for bachelor's degree graduates from the Class of 2015 is $50,651, compared to the final average salary of $48,127 for Class of 2014 graduates.
“While it is early in the current salary-reporting cycle, the numbers generally are positive,” according to the report.
Class of 2015 students who earned bachelor's degrees in the computer science fields received the highest average starting salary at $65,849. Engineering graduates—the top overall earners
for the Class of 2014—and business graduates were also compensated well in 2015, earning starting salaries that averaged $61,819 and $49,536, respectively.
The figures represent actual starting salary data for Class of 2015 graduates (those who graduated July 1, 2014, through June 30, 2015), as provided early by 60 U.S. colleges and universities nationwide participating in NACE's national Class of 2015 First-Destination Survey, which closes Dec. 31, 2015.
Average salaries by discipline for bachelor’s degree graduates
Computer and information sciences
Liberal arts and sciences
Visual and performing arts
NACE Fall 2015 Salary Survey.
The mean is the mathematical average, while the median is the middle value after listing reported salary offers for the category in successive order. Outliers, or extreme values on either the high or low end, have the biggest effect on the mean and less effect on the median.
When it comes to the top average salaries among Class of 2015 master's degree fields of study, the technical disciplines top the list, according to NACE’s report.
NACE’s findings show that those studying the computer and information sciences fields command the highest average starting salary among master's degree graduates—$79,614. They are followed by engineering graduates, who received an average starting salary of $70,844.
Average salaries by discipline for master’s degree graduates
Business, management and marketing
Biological and biomedical science
Mathematics and statistics
Communication and journalism
The story is a little different at the doctorate level, where graduates studying in the business, management and marketing discipline fared best.
Average salaries by discipline for doctorate degree graduates
While salaries offered to most doctoral graduates are expected to outpace those with master’s degrees in the same field, as a group those who earned doctoral degrees in computer and information sciences have a projected average salary of $77,375, which is below those earning master’s degrees in the same field, who were offered average starting salaries of $79,614. A possible explanation for this discrepancy might be that a doctorate-level computer/information science degree is viewed more as an academic than a business credential.
“The hiring outlook for college graduates continues to improve as employers plan to hire 11 percent more new college graduates from the Class of 2016 for their U.S. operations than they did from the Class of 2015,” according to results of
Job Outlook 2016 survey. “This year, 42 percent of employers that participated in the survey characterized the job market for Class of 2016 graduates as very good or excellent. Just two years ago, only 18 percent of responding employers had the same lofty view of the job market for Class of 2014 graduates,” according to the survey report.
Stephen Miller, CEBS, is an online editor/manager for SHRM.
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