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Alumni Survey, Summer 2011


The Alumni Survey is administered every four years to bachelor's, master's and doctoral degree recipients three to five years post graduation. Information provided by these alumni can be used in evaluating the academic environment of CU-Boulder. The survey contains questions about current employment of alumni, the extent to which that employment is related to the education they received at CU-Boulder, their plans for further education, and their satisfaction with CU-Boulder.

In 2011 we surveyed the entire population of alumni who had earned bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees between August 2006 and May 2008, excluding those who earned JD or MBA degrees. About 96% of these alumni had email addresses available from the CU Foundation. We sent email announcements to these 12,080 alumni, inviting them to complete the online survey. A total of 17%, or 2,051 alumni, completed the online questionnaire. This response rate is somewhat lower than the 21% response rate achieved for the 2007 alumni survey, most likely due to the timing of email contacts this year, which took place much later in the summer in 2011 than in 2007. Details about the survey administration, data collection process, and response rates by college/division and major program are provided in the methods section.

The 2011 CU-Boulder Alumni Survey, like those in 2007 and 2003, 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. Previous alumni surveys, conducted in 1998 and 2001, relied on much smaller samples and did not provide program-level information.

The relatively low response rate casts some doubt on whether we can properly generalize the survey results to the overall population of CU-Boulder alumni. The results of this survey should therefore be interpreted with caution.

Highlights of the Results

Where Alumni Live. The majority of CU-Boulder alumni (63%) who earned a degree between August 2006 and May 2008 chose to live in Colorado. Similar percentages of bachelor's and master's recipients (64% and 67%, respectively) live in Colorado, whereas fewer doctoral recipients (45%) do. California was the second most popular choice for CU-Boulder alumni, with 9% of all alumni living in California (8.5% of bachelor's, 1% of master's, and .5% of doctoral recipients). 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, 83% were living in Colorado in 2011; compared to 29% of the bachelor's recipients who were non-residents at entry currently reside in Colorado. 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=11,922), rather than on only those alumni who responded to the survey.

Employment and Further Education. The responses from several questionnaire items were combined so that patterns of employment and education could be studied. In the table of Results by Degree Level, this combined question is referred to as "Employment and further ed." Overall, three to five years after graduation, 92% of 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 (6%) reported that they are not in further education at this time and are seeking employment (6% of bachelor's, 6% of master's, and 3% of doctoral recipients). A very small percentage of all alumni (2%) 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.

84% of all alumni indicated they were either employed and/or pursuing graduate study within 6 to 12 months of graduating from CU-Boulder. This percentage varied across degree level and colleges, with for example, 83% of recent bachelor's recipients, 89% of master's alumni, and 93% of doctoral alumni reporting employment and/or graduate study 6 to 12 months after graduating. Across all colleges and Arts and Sciences divisions, the proportion of bachelor's degree alumni reporting employment and/or further graduate study soon after graduation from CU-Boulder ranged  from 76% for Journalism, to 90% for both Engineering and Music. Data from Music are comprised of relatively few responses from alumni--approximately two dozen alumni responded from this college.

Additional survey item results by degree level are found in the above-mentioned table and are summarized in the text below.

Employment (in a job not related to an educational program, such as intern/graduate assistant): Most CU-Boulder alumni (79%) reported that they are currently employed. Doctoral degree recipients reported a higher rate of current employment (94%) than did master's (82%) or bachelor's degree recipients (77%). Some of the highest rates of reported employment, across colleges, occurred for Music (100%, doctoral recipients), Arts and Sciences-Natural Sciences (98%, doctoral recipients), Education (96%, master's recipients), Business (92%, master's recipients), and Engineering (90%, bachelor's recipients; 92%, master's recipients; 95%, doctoral recipients).

Current employment positions: Alumni who indicated they were employed were asked to write in their current job title. Seventy-four percent of all alumni entered a description of their current job title; this included 72% of bachelor's recipients, 78% of master's recipients and 88% of doctoral recipients who listed their current employment position. The listing of job titles and related ratings is posted as an Excel file and is organized by college/division, major program, degree level, and year and month of degree received. For a fuller picture of current employment, the Excel also includes additional closed-response item answers to the other employment questions, such as salary, employment as RA/TA, job position relatedness to degree, etc.

Similarity of field of employment to program of study: Considerably more doctoral and master's degree recipients than bachelor's recipients reported that their current employment is in the "same field" as their CU-Boulder degree (79%, 66% vs. 33%, respectively). Substantially more doctoral and master's recipients than bachelor's recipients reported that what they gained from their program of study "definitely" helped them to get or keep their current employment (82%, 73%, vs. 49%, respectively). Notably, only 2% of doctoral and master's recipients, and 11% of bachelor's recipients reported that they were in a different field "not by their choice." All others were either in the same or a related field, or in a different field "by choice."

Current salary: As might be expected, higher salaries were associated with higher levels of education. For example, 62% of employed bachelor's recipients reported earning $40,000 or more per year. In comparison, 84% of master's recipients and 91% of doctoral recipients reported annual salaries at this level. More doctoral and master's recipients (31%) than bachelor's recipients (9%) reported earning $80,000 or more annually.

Further Education: Forty-three percent of bachelor's recipients, 30% of master's recipients, and 10% of doctoral recipients reported taking courses toward an additional degree after receiving their CU-Boulder degree. Seventy-one percent of bachelor's recipients said that they plan to earn a master's degree or higher, and 34% 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 medicine and health (20%), business (13%), education or social science (9% each), or law or natural sciences (8% each). Master's recipients reported that their further courses are often in engineering (26%), humanities (17%), education (14%), social science (9%), or natural science (8%).

Further degrees currently working on or obtained: More than one third of the alumni (35%) reported they were currently working on, or had obtained, an additional degree at the time of the survey. Of the bachelor's recipients who were pursuing or had received an additional degree, over half (59%) were pursuing or had obtained a master's degree; and 31% were pursuing or had obtained a PhD or other professional degree (e.g., medicine, law, theology). Of the master's recipients, 42% were working on, or had received, an additional master's degree; and 53% were pursuing or had obtained a PhD or other professional degree. In an additional open-ended item, these respondents provided written information on their area of study, and the name and location of the school they were/have been attending. They also indicated whether they had received this degree or not. All of this information is posted in an Excel listing of these additional degrees, organized by college/division, CU degree level, and year and month in which respondents' original CU-Boulder degree was received. It also includes responses to two additional education-related items--"What is the highest degree you ultimately plan to earn (other than your CU-Boulder degree)?" and  "Did your CU-Boulder degree program meet your educational goals?"

CU-Boulder Experience:
Met educational goals: Nearly all alumni, approximately 96% of all degree level recipients, indicated that their respective programs of study at CU-Boulder "definitely" or "somewhat" met their educational goals. Slightly more doctoral recipients (99%) than master's or bachelor's recipients (95% and 96%, respectively) indicated this.

Recommend CU-Boulder: About half of bachelor's, master's, and doctoral recipients said that they would recommend CU-Boulder to a friend considering college or graduate school with "no reservations" (54%, 46%, and 45%, respectively). Approximately 90% of all alumni reported that they would recommend CU-Boulder with only "some" or "no reservations" (92%, 90%, and 91%, respectively).

Complete Results

Complete results for the entire campus are also provided in tabular form, as are additional results by college/school and Arts and Sciences division, which may be viewed by clicking on the links to the left. Please note that, within any given subgroup, the number of respondents may vary from item to item, and the results by subgroups are displayed only for those with a total of at least 6 respondents in the subgroup.

In addition a large Excel of statistics for all the closed-response survey items is provided--viewable by campus, college/school, degree level, Arts and Sciences division, and by major program. The Excel is provided to assist units who may wish to compare program-level results.

Open-Ended comments: Three long open-ended questions were asked at the end of the survey. These questions allowed alumni to provide more extensive, descriptive information about degree program satisfaction and experiences had while attending CU-Boulder. The comments are organized by college/division and program, degree level, and major code. The open-ended questions include:

  • "If you could do ONE THING TO IMPROVE your CU-Boulder degree program, what would it be?"
  • "What was the ONE BEST THING about your degree program?"

A brief summary of the findings from the comments to the above questions, as well as information on accessing these comments and the short open-ended comments on employment and further education is provided and accessible from the sidebar.

Last revision 05/02/16

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