The following guest post was written by Mimi Collins, director of communications for the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).
Overall, the National Center for Education Statistics (NCES) expects the Class of 2013 to total 1,744,000 bachelor’s degree graduates. Here’s a quick look at the class, and what’s happening in some of the key disciplines.
* Women will outnumber men: Overall, women will account for approximately 57 percent of bachelor’s degrees. This continues a trend that started in the early 1980s, the last time men earned more bachelor’s degrees than women.
* The class will be more diverse: Though the class is predominately white, racial/ethnic minorities will make up a bigger part of the pool than was the case just 10 years ago.
* Key disciplines will be under-supplied: The STEM disciplines will account for less than 10 percent of the degrees conferred.
* Overall, salaries will increase: Salaries have been trending upward for new college graduates as a whole. In April, the median salary for a bachelor’s degree candidate stood at $42,569, up 4.5 percent over the previous year. Not surprisingly, employers should expect to pay top dollar for low-supply, high-demand graduates.
The student population is increasingly diverse, with most racial/ethnic groups gaining ground, Hispanic graduates, in particular, accounting for much of that growth.
Overall, racial ethnic/minorities account for approximately 29 percent of bachelor’s degrees. That’s up from around 25 percent at the end of the 1990s. (See Figure 1.)
Just as females account for a larger portion of degrees conferred, so too are females are driving much of the gains in diversity. For example, the most current data show that African-American females account for 6.5 percent of degrees, their male counterparts, just 3.4 percent. Hispanic females earned 5.2 percent of bachelor’s degrees, compared to 3.3 percent earned by male Hispanics.
Among employers that have a formal college recruiting function, graduates in the business and STEM disciplines are key recruiting targets.
Overall, business graduates are relatively plentiful. Since the 1980s, the business disciplines have consistently accounted for approximately one-fifth of the bachelor’s degree granted. Competition for these graduates tends to focus around specific skill sets—graduates earning degrees in accounting and finance are especially sought after—experience, and other criteria. (Note: At the master’s level, there has been some slow, but steady movement upward in terms of business degrees conferred. The business fields now account for more than one-quarter of master’s degrees granted, up from around 19 percent in the early ’80s.)
It’s a different story, however, for employers seeking STEM graduates.
Combined, the STEM fields—computer science/information sciences, engineering, mathematics/statistics, and physical sciences—account for less than 10 percent of all the bachelor’s degrees granted.
Overall, that statistic has not changed much over the past decade. In 2009-10, less than 1 percent of the bachelor’s degrees granted went to mathematics/statistics majors, while graduates with degrees in computer science/information sciences, engineering, and the physical sciences accounted for just slightly more. At the end of the 1990s, the figures were nearly the same (See Figure 2.)
Although women account for well over half of all bachelor’s degrees, they are underrepresented in the STEM fields, earning less than half of degrees in all of the disciplines. In fact, their “best” showing is in the physical sciences, where they earn 43 percent of degrees. (See Figure 3.)
Racial/ethnic minorities, too, are not well represented in the STEM disciplines. (See Figure 4.)
The Talent Pool: What’s Beyond
Where is the talent pool headed? Projections through the 2020-21 academic year indicate steady increases in the number of degrees conferred at every level—associate, bachelor’s, master’s, and doctoral. In addition, NCES expects women and ethnic/racial minorities to account for increasingly larger parts of the talent pool.
(Note: NACE offers customized research; this includes research for target school selection, which can be used to identify sources of specific majors along various parameters, including gender and racial/ethnic group. For more information and a sample report, see www.naceweb.org/custom_research_data/ )
|Year||Total # Degrees||White||African America||Hispanic||Asian/Pacific Islander||American Indian/Alaska Native||Nonresident Alien|
|Discipline||% of Degrees (2009-10)||% of Degrees (1999-00)|
|Computer Science/Information Science||2.4%||3.1%|
|Discipline||Total # Degrees||# Male||# Female||% Female|
|Computer Science/Information Science||39,589||32,410||7,179||18.1%|
|Discipline||Total # Degrees||White||African American||Hispanic||Asian/Pacific Islander||American Indian/Alaska Native||Nonresident Alien|
|Computer Science/ Information Science||39,589||26,565||4,565||2,942||3,372||279||1,866|
Source: 2011 Digest of Education Statistics, Table 301. National Center for Education Statistics. Data are for 2009-10 bachelor’s degree graduates.
Mimi Collins is director of communications for the National Association of Colleges and Employers.