Average Starting Salary Climbs 5.2% for Class of 2015 Grads

Technical disciplines earn top dollar among master's degree graduates

By Stephen Miller, CEBS Nov 25, 2015
LIKE SAVE PRINT
Reuse Permissions

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).

The 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

Category

Mean

Median

Computer and information sciences

$65,849

$65,000

Engineering

$61,819

$62,000

Liberal arts and sciences

$50,116

$45,000

Business

$49,536

$50,000

Social sciences

$39,931

$37,499

History

$37,957

$40,000

Visual and performing arts

$36,041

$35,000

Psychology

$35,108

$32,750

English

$34,702

$35,000

Source: 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.

Master’s Degree Graduates

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

Category

Mean

Median

Computer and information sciences

$79,614

$81,563

Engineering

$70,844

$71,620

Engineering technologies

$69,000

$59,250

Health professions

$63,159

$61,375

Business, management and marketing

$58,026

$55,000

Biological and biomedical science

$57,386

$53,407

Mathematics and statistics

$57,088

$57,500

Physical sciences

$53,740

$45,250

Communication and journalism

$52,705

$53,750

Psychology

$51,935

$52,500

Source: NACE Fall 2015 Salary Survey.



Doctorate-Level Graduates

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

Category

Mean

Median

Business, management and marketing

$131,461

$143,875

Health professions

$79,653

$88,250

Engineering

$79,242

$80,534

Computer and information sciences

$77,375

$63,500

Education

$74,134

$75,929

Source: NACE Fall 2015 Salary Survey.



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.

Looking Ahead

“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 NACE's 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. Follow me on Twitter.

LIKE SAVE PRINT
Reuse Permissions

SHRM CONNECT

Join SHRM's exclusive peer-to-peer social network

Join Today

Job Finder

Find an HR Job Near You

SPONSOR OFFERS

Find the Right Vendor for Your HR Needs

SHRM’s HR Vendor Directory contains over 3,200 companies

Search & Connect