If money talks, then computer science and business majors at UNC are listening loud and clear.
According to the annual First Destination Survey released by University Career Services, May 2006 graduates with a degree in computer science had the highest annual mean salary at $60,000. Graduates with a degree in business administration were next on the list with an average salary of $47,534.
“We didn’t really see anything eye-popping about the numbers,” said Tim Stiles, associate director of UCS. “The numbers are pretty true when you look at the national averages. People coming out with business, engineering and computer science degrees usually have high salaries.”
The survey is an accumulation of responses from 532 May graduates about their employment status, salary, and post-graduation activities.
The average annual salary for all graduates was $38,038, which Stiles said was good considering how the economy has been in recent years.
“I think we saw an improvement with the 2006 class,” Stiles said. “We’re coming out of that trough where we got stuck after 9/11 for a while. We’re seeing major college employers coming back and more jobs.”
The survey has been conducted for the past 21 years, Stiles said. UCS collects data on post-graduation plans from students in June, September, November and December of their senior year.
Postcards are sent to students’ parents to see if there has been a change in the students’ contact information. UCS also collects data from employers, particularly employers who recruit on campus.
In the surveys, seniors are asked about their employment status, salary, further education, job satisfaction and location.
Stiles said the survey’s findings are usually consistent.
“When you look at the percentage of students who are employed, it’s usually in the 60 to 65 percent range, and this year it was 64.4,” he said. “The percent satisfied is usually in the 80 to 90 range, and that was pretty true for this year. People are getting jobs and taking jobs that they want.”
More than 140 business administration graduates participated in the survey, compared to only four computer science majors. Although few computer science majors participated in the study, Stiles said they still have higher average salaries.
“Just looking at the national survey, there were 128 computer science majors and their average salary was $52,177,” he said. “You just have to look at the number of comp-sci majors graduating; it’s not that huge.”
The salaries of computer science majors might be high, but Jan Prins, chairman of the computer science department, said he has not seen a big change in the number of computer science majors.
“It’s going up a little bit,” he said. “But money is not our main selling point. We instill in our students that computing is part of every aspect of modern life.”
Prins said the high salaries of computer science graduates at UNC is partly attributable to the way the curriculum is designed.
“Our particular major has high entry and high exit requirements,” he said. “So in general, we graduate strong students.”