Minnesota's new tool shows which college degrees pay off

  • Article by: ADAM BELZ , Star Tribune
  • Updated: May 30, 2014 - 11:50 AM

Data show nearly 70 percent of grads in Minnesota lacked a full-time job a year after graduation.

Computer science, business and engineering bachelor’s degrees are the most likely to result in a full-time job that lasts through the whole second year after graduation, new data from the state of Minnesota shows.

Using Minnesota unemployment insurance and Department of Education records, the state is now tracking how quickly new graduates find jobs and how much they are paid. The information is public and can be sorted electronically by type of institution, by course of study and by type of degree — associate’s, bachelor’s, master’s and certificates.

“For the first time, we have a Minnesota-specific tool that will allow students and their counselors to have access to recent data that tells them what industries are growing and how much recent graduates are earning,” said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben.

Some of the majors with the slimmest prospects for a full time, year-round job are education and theology. But the agency noted several limitations in its data for those fields. For instance, a teacher who has the summer off doesn't fit the definition of a year-round, full-time worker. The data also doesn't cover churches.

As a result, its data for theology and religion majors shows a particularly low median annual wage of $16,851. By contrast, the median wage for computer science majors was $51,141.

The data reinforces anecdotal evidence of just how tough the job market still is for new graduates. Of almost 30,000 people who graduated from a Minnesota college in 2011, nearly 70 percent did not have a full-time, year-round job in Minnesota in their second year after graduation.

The tool, part of a collaborative effort with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, was developed using data on students who graduated between July 2009 and June 2011, but state officials said that the database will be updated continually.

Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, called the tool a “groundbreaking effort by state agencies” that gives students “a much clearer ­picture of where the jobs are, and what fields of study provide the best earning potential.”

 

Adam Belz • 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz

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