The Earning Power of Recent Graduates From Virginia’s Colleges and Universities
How are graduates from different degree programs doing in the labor market?
This report, the result of a partnership between the State Council on Higher Education in Virginia and College Measures, draws upon data previously not publicly available to compare the average first-year earnings of recent graduates from two-year and four-year institutions across Virginia.
The authors explore the variation in first-year earnings for graduates from individual degree programs at individual colleges. The results show that the degrees students earn, and where they earn them, matter. Among the findings in this report:
- Substantial variation exists in the early-career earnings of students from different programs and different degree levels across the Commonwealth. Graduates of occupational/technical associate’s degree programs, with an average salary of just under $40,000, out-earned not just nonoccupational associate’s degree graduates (by about $6,000) but even bachelor’s degree graduates by almost $2,500 statewide.
- At the bachelor’s degree level, the highest earning graduates came from two career-oriented programs at the University of Richmond, where graduates in information sciences and in human resources management averaged more than $69,000 per year. Meanwhile, graduates from sixteen programs across the Commonwealth earned on average less than $24,000. Most of these are traditional liberal arts programs, such as Philosophy or fine arts related.
- Across Virginia, setting aside nursing, graduates with degrees in business-related programs (including finance, accounting, and economics) earned more than other graduates. But students from different business programs could earn quite different amounts. For example, graduates from University of Richmond’s business administration program earned between $2,500 and $19,000 more than graduates in the same program from other universities across Virginia.
- Although differences in other popular bachelor’s degree majors were not as wide, recent graduates from Emory and Henry College’s psychology program earned around $22,000, whereas psychology graduates from University of Virginia and George Mason University averaged more than $32,000.
- Among many of Virginia’s community colleges, earnings of graduates with a technical associate’s degree could exceed $10,000 more than those with a bachelor’s credit–oriented associate’s degree; in three community colleges (John Tyler, Germanna, and Lord Fairfax), the difference was greater than $12,000.
More findings are available at the College Measures website.