EMPLOYMENT OUTCOMES REPORT - SEPTEMBER 2008
This report analyzes employment data for graduates of Oklahoma public colleges and universities one year and five years after graduation for various graduating classes of the past decade. A snapshot of employment status five years after graduation is shown for the graduating classes of 1999-00, 2000-01, and 2001-02, and the employment status of the 2003-04, 2004-05, and 2005-06 classes is shown after one year.
The current study supports national data that link salary to educational attainment. Oklahoma data for graduates of the state’s public colleges and universities confirm that the higher the degree a student earns, the higher the salary he or she will earn.
- Five years after graduation, 2001-02 bachelor’s degree recipients employed in Oklahoma were earning $40,079 on average.
- Average earnings for 2001-02 certificate and associate in arts/associate in science degree holders five years after graduation were 24 percent and 34 percent less than bachelor’s degree recipients, although associate in applied science degree holders earned salaries that were only 4 percent lower than those of bachelor’s degree holders after five years. Master’s, doctoral, and professional degree recipients earned more (27 percent, 52 percent, and 100 percent, respectively) than bachelor’s degree recipients.
- Graduates with engineering, mathematics, computer science and other technical degrees consistently earn higher average salaries, although health professions, business management, and education graduates also command strong salaries on average.
The good news for Oklahoma is that the majority of its college graduates remain in the state, contributing to the state’s economy and opportunities for growth, even five years after graduation. Following are highlights of the most recent Oklahoma employment data for the state’s higher education graduates:
- Five years after graduation, 61 percent of the 2001-02 bachelor’s degree recipients were employed in Oklahoma. More certificate (79 percent) and associate degree (74 percent) recipients remained in Oklahoma, and fewer master’s (54 percent), professional (54 percent), and doctoral (36 percent) graduates remained.
- One year after graduation, 82 percent of the 2005-06 bachelor’s degree recipients were employed in Oklahoma. More certificate (91 percent) and associate degree (89 percent) recipients remained in Oklahoma, and fewer professional (79 percent), master’s (72 percent) and doctoral (61 percent) graduates remained.
- Oklahoma retained a large percentage of bachelor’s degree recipients who were Oklahoma residents: 89 percent of the 2005-06 graduates after one year and 69 percent of the 2001-02 graduates after five years. Additionally, some Oklahoma State System bachelor’s degree recipients who were not Oklahoma residents remained after graduation: 54 percent after one year and 25 percent after five years.
- Oklahoma is retaining a majority of its graduates, even after five years. The current data (for 2001-02 graduates after five years and 2005-06 graduates after one year) reflect slightly increased employment rates for both residents and non-residents when compared to previous studies. For instance, at the bachelor’s degree level, which includes the majority of graduates, 61 percent of all 2001-02 graduates were found in-state, compared to 58 percent and 59 percent of the 1999-00 and 2000-01 graduates after five years. Similarly, 74 percent of the 2001-02 associate degree holders were found after five years, compared to 73 percent in the previous studies. Master’s degree recipients showed greater gains overall, with 54 percent of the 2001-02 graduates retained in Oklahoma, compared to 50 percent of the 1999-00 and 52 percent of the 2000-01 graduates after five years.
- Although the vast majority of graduates of Oklahoma public higher education institutions remain in Oklahoma, the “out” migration is evident in technical fields of study such as engineering, computer science, and physical sciences. Progress is being made, however, and results for 2001-02 bachelor’s degree holders in mathematics, biological sciences, computer science, engineering, and architecture show higher percentages remain in-state after five years than was true for graduates of previous studies.
- Of the 2005-06 graduates who were not found employed, 1.7 percent were still enrolled in Oklahoma higher education after one year. The highest percentage of continued enrollment was found among the associate in arts/associate in science degree holders at 4.9 percent. For those who had graduated five years earlier (2005-06), continued higher education enrollment was not found to be significant.
The State Regents’ Brain Gain 2010 initiative, efforts to improve student preparation and awareness of college, encouraging strategic scholarship programs, and accountability measures that promote retention and timely graduation are critical to the production of higher education graduates. Partnerships between higher education institutions and business, including internships and apprenticeships in high-growth industries, not only affect graduates’ decisions to stay in-state, but also stimulate the high technology businesses that are needed in the new economy. Continued collaboration with economic and policy leaders to implement the governor’s Economic Development Generating Excellence (EDGE) project recommendations, including the Oklahoma Research Initiative, will enhance opportunities to capitalize on the intellectual talent of Oklahoma’s higher education graduates. Increasing the availability of graduates and attracting industries that rely on that knowledge pool are both critical components for stimulating the state’s economic health and vitality.