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Alumni Survey, Summer 2003


The 2003 CU-Boulder Alumni Survey is considerably different from previous alumni surveys conducted in 1998 and 2001. Previous alumni surveys, with much smaller samples, did not provide program-level information. The 2003 survey, in comparison, was designed both to provide information that individual programs can use for planning purposes, and to summarize alumni experiences for the entire CU-Boulder campus.

Questionnaires were sent through the U.S. mail in July 2003 to a random sample of alumni who earned a bachelor's, master's, or doctoral degree between August 1998 and May 2000. (Click here to view a copy of the questionnaire.) A substantial number of alumni could not be reached, because either they had no U.S. mailing address on file with the Alumni Foundation (n = 4,251), or they had an inaccurate address on file that precluded the Post Office's delivering a questionnaire to them (n = 422). These numbers represent a considerable proportion of the population (n = 10,640) of all CU-Boulder graduates who earned a degree between August 1998 and May 2000. Our inability to contact so many alumni is an unavoidable source of error for this survey. A diagram of the population, sampling frame, sample, and respondents illustrates this situation. Additional information is provided in the Method section.

A total of 743 alumni completed and returned a questionnaire, which represents 19% of the sample (all those to whom a questionnaire was mailed) and 21% of those to whom a questionnaire was presumably delivered. These response rates are somewhat lower than those observed in previous alumni surveys and lower than those typically observed in survey research at CU-Boulder. Note that the 743 returned questionnaires reflect responses of alumni who both had a current, accurate U.S. address on file and chose to reply, which is 12% of all alumni with U.S. addresses.

Given the relatively low response rate, however we choose to define it, and the fact that nearly half of the population could not be contacted due to missing or inaccurate addresses, the results of this survey should be interpreted with caution. Although the sample was representative of alumni with U.S. addresses, the important problems of missing/inaccurate addresses and non-response cast some doubt on whether we can properly generalize the survey results to the overall population of CU-Boulder alumni.

Highlights of the Results

Where Alumni Live. The majority of CU-Boulder alumni (67%) who earned a degree between August 1998 and May 2000 chose to live in Colorado. Similar percentages of bachelor's and master's recipients (68% each) live in Colorado, whereas fewer doctoral recipients (49%) do. California was the second most popular choice for CU-Boulder alumni, with 10% of bachelor's, 7% of master's, and 11% of doctoral recipients residing in that state. In addition, the proportion of bachelor's recipients living in Colorado differs substantially for those alumni who entered CU-Boulder as residents versus non-residents. Of the bachelor's recipients who were residents when they entered CU-Boulder, 85% were living in Colorado in 2003. Only 39% of the bachelor's recipients who were non-residents at entry currently reside in Colorado. Note that the information on where alumni live is from the CU Foundation's records, and is based on data from alumni who had a U.S. mailing address (n = 6,389), rather than on only those alumni who responded to the survey.

Employment and Further Education. One question on the survey asks about current employment and another asks about current enrollment in a formal, degree-granting educational program. The responses from these two questions were combined so that patterns of employment and education could be studied. In the tables and graphs (see links below), this combined question is referred to as "Q1xQ7: Employment and Further Education."

Most (91%) alumni reported that they are employed or in further education. Few (4%) reported that they are not in further education at this time and are seeking employment. Some (5%) alumni indicated that they are not employed, are not seeking employment, and are not in further education. It is possible that alumni with full-time parenting responsibility account for a portion of those in such circumstances, although this cannot be determined from the survey data. Across degree levels, 71% to 91% of respondents who reported that they are not employed, are not seeking employment, and are not in further education are female.

The percentages of alumni who reported being employed or in further education varied somewhat across degree levels, ranging from 88% (master's recipients) to 92% (bachelor's recipients). Interestingly, more doctoral recipients (10%) than master's or bachelor's recipients (6% and 4%, respectively) reported that they are not employed, are not seeking employment, and are not in further education. No doctoral recipients reported that they are not in further education at this time and are seeking employment. Equal proportions of bachelor's and master's recipients reported being in this situation (4% each).

Employment (Not Considering Further Education). Most CU-Boulder alumni (79%) reported that they are currently employed. Doctoral degree recipients reported a higher rate of current employment (87%) than did master's or bachelor's degree recipients (80% each). Some of the highest rates of reported employment, across colleges, occurred for Journalism (100%, master's recipients), Business (98%, bachelor's recipients), Engineering (97%, doctoral recipients), Architecture and Planning (94%, bachelor's recipients), and Arts and Sciences, Natural Sciences (88%, doctoral recipients).

Considerably more doctoral recipients than bachelor's recipients reported that their current employment is in the same field as their CU-Boulder degree (71% vs. 31%, respectively). Likewise, substantially more doctoral recipients reported that what they gained from their program of study definitely helped them to get or keep their current employment (86% vs. 46% for bachelor's recipients).

As might be expected, higher salaries were associated with higher levels of education. For example, 32% of employed bachelor's recipients reported earning $40,000 or more per year. In comparison, 68% of master's recipients and 87% of doctoral recipients reported annual salaries at this level. More doctoral recipients (26%) than master's or bachelor's recipients (21% and 4%, respectively) reported earning $80,000 or more annually.

Further Education (Not Considering Employment). Forty-one percent of bachelor's recipients and 22% of master's recipients reported taking courses toward an additional degree after receiving their CU-Boulder degree. Seventy-five percent of bachelor's recipients said that they plan to earn a master's degree or higher, and 35% of master's recipients plan to earn a specialist, professional, or doctoral degree. Among bachelor's recipients, courses taken for an additional degree are often in business (13%), education (9%), or medicine and health (7%). Master's recipients reported that their further courses are often in engineering (10%), education (6%), business (4%), or natural or social sciences (4% each).

CU-Boulder Experience. Nearly all (97%) alumni reported that, overall, their respective programs of study at CU-Boulder met their educational goals. A majority of bachelor's and master's recipients said that they would, with no reservations, recommend CU-Boulder to a friend considering college or graduate school (55% and 52%, respectively). Fewer doctoral recipients (41%) reported being able to make such a recommendation. Many more alumni reported that they would recommend CU-Boulder with some or no reservations (94%, 92%, and 86% of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral recipients, respectively).

Complete Results

Complete results, in both tabular and graphic form, are provided for the entire campus. In addition, results are provided for the entire campus by degree level, and by college and degree level. These results, along with program-level results, may be viewed by clicking on the links to the left. To facilitate comparisons over subgroups or programs, graphs of the results may be viewed by individual survey question (see link on the left).

Last revision 05/02/16

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