Degrees At Work

Examining the serendipitous outcomes of diverse degrees

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Published August 2019

By Clare Coffey, Rob Sentz, and Dr. Yustina Saleh

How exactly is your education connected to your role in the labor market?

For some degrees, the answer is obvious. Engineering majors become engineers, and graduates of computer science programs go on to develop software. For other degrees, the connection is more nebulous—at least in the popular imagination. This lack of clarity may be why so many students feel their education lacked value–especially if they majored in a field outside of STEM.

But the reality is both more complicated and more encouraging. To uncover the real relationship between education and work, we analyzed the career outcomes of graduates from six different types of programs:

  • Language and philosophy
  • Social science
  • Business
  • Communications
  • Engineering
  • IT

We also identified the skills they’re most likely to use in their day-to-day work.

Key findings

Sales, marketing, management, and business and financial analysis appear in the top ten most popular outcomes for almost all degrees–including Engineering and IT.

These consistently popular outcomes revolve around four core business functions: tactical communication, strategic communication, interpersonal oversight, and operational oversight. These functions are absolutely critical to a successful business that can communicate about and deliver high-value products, as well as build them.

54% of all the graduates we analyzed went into these core business roles. 25% went into STEM jobs, and 21% went into soft-skill jobs.

Graduates from very different programs have many of the same skills. Language and philosophy graduates, for instance, do the same type of higher-level administration when they work in non-profits.