Map A to Z Index Search CU Home University of Colorado
  Strategic Planning Institutional Research and Analysis Campus Budget and Finances About PBA

University Directory

PBA Home > Institutional Research & Analysis > After-graduation activity of CU-Boulder alumni

After-graduation activity of CU-Boulder alumni

Employment and further education

  • Alumni report employment and further education
    • Three to five years after graduation, almost all alumni report that they are currently employed and/or in further education (92% of bachelor's, 92% of master's, and 96% of doctoral recipients). Very few report that they are not in further education and are seeking employment (6% of bachelor's, 6% of master's, and 3% of doctoral recipients).
    • Employment/further education percentages are higher for doctoral than master's recipients, higher for masterís than bachelor's recipients, higher 3-5 years after graduation than 6-12 months after, and higher for bachelor's and master's alumni surveyed in 2007 than in the recession year of 2011. Details (PDF, Jan. 2013)
    • Methods and further details including salaries, further degrees, and relationship of employment to the CU-Boulder degree are in alumni survey reports:
      2011 |  2007 |  2003
  • Seniors plan on diverse activities
    • Since 2009, proportions of graduating seniors planning to work full time in Colorado immediately after graduation has been steadily growing, from 27% in 2009 to 35% in 2014.
    • Similarly, proportions of graduating seniors planning ANY employment in Colorado (full-time or part-time) has also been increasing: from 37% in 2009 to 44%-45% in 2013 and 2014.
    • Others plan to move outside Colorado, pursue further education, work part-time, or engage in military service, volunteer activity, travel, internships, student teaching, and starting or raising a family.
    • Details are available in recent senior surveys 2014 | 2013 | 2012 | 2011
    • A Boulder Daily Camera article, posted on August 31, 2014, also nicely covers the improving employment climate for CU-Boulder graduating seniors. See a copy of the article: "Survey shows positive outlook for 2014 CU-Boulder grads."
  • Bachelor's graduates pursue further education. For over 26,000 unduplicated students receiving CU-Boulder bachelor's degrees summer 2006 - spring 2011, the National Student Clearinghouse reports that 27% enrolled in higher education in the first two years after graduation.


  • Alumni report earnings
    • CU-Boulder bachelor's recipients reported median full-time annual salaries of $40,000 to $55,000, while master's and doctoral recipients reported medians of $55,000 to $80,000, in the 2011 survey of alumni 3 to 5 years after graduation. 
    • Leeds School of Business class of 2012 employment statistics for undergraduate and MBA degree recipients.
    • College of Engineering and Applied Science undergraduate post-graduation survey results administered 6 to 8 months after graduation.
  • The Colorado Department of Higher Education website on "Initial Earnings of Graduates from Colorado Colleges and Universities Working in Colorado" reports earnings by degree discipline for the first year after graduation for 3,700 (13%) of the 28,000 duplicated bachelor's graduates summer 2006 through spring 2011.
    • Report rates are higher for graduates in business (24%) and engineering (29%) than for all other disciplines. Earnings for CU-Boulder graduates in business (median $41,944) and engineering (weighted median $53,910) are in line with those from other Colorado schools, with more variance within schools than between schools. 
    • The earnings reported reflect only employment in Colorado, excluding federal government and self employment, and may reflect part-time work.  Concurrent bachelor's/master's recipients are excluded from the bachelor's earnings.
    • In general, over the state, median earnings for bachelor's recipients are (a) higher the older the average age at  graduation (Mines 22, UCB 23, Regis 35) because age is a proxy for prior experience; (b) higher for schools in Denver, than schools on the rest of the Front Range, and lowest for schools off the Front Range; (c) higher for computer science and engineering, then health professions, then business, closely followed by all other majors.
    • The low report rates reflect CU-Boulder graduate decisions to pursue further education, start their own businesses, work for the federal government, live and work outside Colorado, and engage in activities other than paid employment immediately after graduation.
    • Full report from CDHE and College Measures - Executive summary - Press release
    • Comprehensive list of data limitations compiled by the University of Colorado System  
    • CU-Boulder analysis of bachelor's report rates and earnings:  Report | Excel    
    • See the CDHE list of approved degrees and certificates offered for names and CIP codes of programs throughout Colorado.
  • National data on earnings present both initial and lifetime earnings. These data also examine relationships of earnings to graduates' majors and to the jobs and industries in which they work.
    • Selected displays from the sources noted below.
    • Taken over all workers, earnings increase and unemployment rates decrease with higher levels of education.  U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics
    •  Starting salaries of bachelor's and master's graduates are related to academic discipline or major, and to employment sector and title. NACE (National Association of Colleges and Employers) survey of employers.   Executive summary | full report.       
      • Disciplines with highest starting salaries: Computer science and Engineering.  Business leads the rest.
    • Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce
      • Hard Times: College Majors, Unemployment and Earnings (2013) shows differences in unemployment and earnings based on major for BA and graduate degree holders. See also Hard Times 2013 website.
      • The College Payoff: Education, Occupations, Lifetime Earnings (2011) shows how earnings increase over a worker's lifetime, with greater rates of increase for higher levels of education.  
    • The U.S. Census Bureau also reports on educational attainment, sector, and earnings. 
    • Payscale collects and reports self-reported salary data from interested workers. Use caution with Payscale data -- workers wishing to change jobs, and those in business and engineering, are overrepresented in the reports.   
      • According to PayScale's 2013 College Salary Report the median starting salary for CU-Boulder graduates is $45,000 with a median mid-career salary of $87,100.
    • Secondary sources also report on the value of college degrees:
      NY Times |  Huffington Post |  Pew State and Consumer Initiatives
  • Federal initiative to rate and compare colleges. In August 2013 President Obama outlined a plan to measure college performance based on indicators that include postgraduate wages.

Enjoying and exercising the benefits of a liberal education

  • CU-Boulder's learning goals for all undergraduates echo the basics of a liberal education. 
  • Just what is a liberal education, and why is it valuable even now? See Harvard, Berkeley, i-seek (Minnesota's career, education, and job resource), and the Huffington Post for complementary answers.
  • The Liberal Education and America's Promise (LEAP) project of the Association of American Colleges and Universities relates college learning outcomes and employers' views in several reports.
  • Voting, health, job satisfaction -- all are related to higher levels of education. The College Board's Education Pays, published every three years, presents detailed evidence of the private and public benefits of higher education by examining earnings, employment, poverty rates, lifestyle, heath, and other outcomes.
  • The Strategic National Arts Alumni Project (SNAAP) reports that "a majority of arts graduates are happy with their intensive education in the arts and do not view salary levels as the dominant measures of their success." SNAAP surveys visual and performing arts graduates from a range of schools across the U.S.

Where they live

  • Living in Colorado is a decided benefit of going to school in Colorado.
  • Almost two-thirds of CU-Boulder alumni (64%) who earned a degree between August 2006 and May 2008 were living in Colorado in 2011.  This includes
    • Bachelor's recipients: 83% of Colorado residents and 29% of those from outside Colorado
    • Master's recipients: 69%
    • PhD recipients: 47%
    • MBA and Law not checked 
    • Methods

The value of a CU-Boulder education

  • After graduation but also while enrolled -- a CU-Boulder education has both immediate and enduring value.
  • The director of CU-Boulder's Career Service writes to parents.
  • CU-Boulder Undergraduate Admissions discusses value and finances
  • Chancellor Phil DiStefano addresses students and the public




Last revision 02/04/15

PBA Home  |   Strategic Planning  |   Institutional Research & Analysis |  Budget & Finances  | 
Questions? Comments? |  Legal & Trademarks |  Privacy
15 UCB, University of Colorado Boulder, Boulder, CO 80309-0015, (303)492-8631
  © Regents of the University of Colorado