More grads choose industry over PhDs

Survey data reveal decade-long trend away from graduate school

7585 careers
source: GECD, infographic by samir wadhwania
7586 careers 2
source: GECD, infographic by samir wadhwania

As students flock to Career Fair today to speak with recruiters from tech companies, hedge funds, and startups, many will be seeking full-time jobs and internships. If recent trends in GECD survey results are any indication, more MIT students than ever will enter the workforce upon graduating next semester.

The percentage of MIT undergraduate students pursuing full-time work immediately after graduation has been rising steadily over the past ten years. According to a 2014 survey by MIT’s Global Education and Career Development, 58 percent of graduating seniors indicated that they planned to enter the workforce, with nearly one in five planning to work at startups. This figure is up from 43 percent in 2004. In comparison, the percentage of students going on the graduate school has been declining, with 32 percent of respondents planning to pursue graduate studies after graduation, down from 52 percent a decade prior.

The list of companies hiring the most MIT students has shifted from year to year, though McKinsey and Company, Oracle, and Google have consistently appeared in the top five. Apple, Morgan Stanley, and Accenture have also been popular choices.

Overall, MIT graduates appear to be successful in finding work. By May 2014, over 95 percent of respondents indicated that they had received a job offer. When those going to work were surveyed about ways they found employment, they ranked channels such as campus recruiting, the Career Fair, and networking particularly high. Other students mentioned that their internships had led to job offers. When surveyed on factors that affected their decision to accept a job, 90 percent of those working said that the job content was either “very important” or “essential.”

Three-quarters of those working full-time said that their job was related to their major. By major, the highest-ranking median salaries were those from Courses 6, 18, and 8, with $100,000, $88,500, and $80,000, respectively. For the past five years, these majors have consistently received higher salaries, though Course 2 and Course 14 are close runners-up. By industry in 2014, graduates with a bachelor’s degree entering work in financial services reported the highest mean salary, at $103,000, while those entering computer software were not far behind, with a mean income of $98,000.

The most common industries in which to work were computer software, consulting, and engineering. Many other industries were also strongly represented, including investment banking, finance, military, aerospace, energy, and health/medicine.