Salary trends for college graduates and undergrads

May 08, 2018

Whether it’s hiring new graduates or bringing on undergraduate students for internships and co-ops, more and more organizations are competing to bring in younger talent. According to the US New Graduate Pay and Student Hiring Rates Survey, 90% of organizations are now offering programs specific to new graduate hiring, 92% are offering summer internship programs, and 31% are offering co-op education programs.

These programs are helpful for employers and HR professionals alike because they provide strategic, cost-effective ways to train, recruit, and retain young talent. By analyzing and understanding new graduate hiring and salary data, you can gain valuable insight into the top recruitment and compensation trends concerning new graduates, summer interns, and co-op students. By benchmarking this type of data to keep up with the trends, your organization will be better positioned to compete for the next generation of talent to take your workforce into the future.

Hiring Trends and Starting Salary Rates of Recent Graduates

Overall, students with a bachelor degree are still being recruited and hired at higher levels than students with associate’s degrees or community college diplomas. But, the latest data shows that recent graduates with certain types of Bachelor’s degrees are being recruited faster and by more organizations than their peers. This can be seen in the following data showing the top-recruited degree types by all organizations over the past year, along with their starting salaries:

  1. Bachelor of Science - 86% of organizations hired recent grads with Bachelor of Science degrees. The Bachelor of Science Degree received a median starting salary of $57.8k.
  2. Bachelor of Business Administration - 66% of organizations hired recent grads with Bachelor of Business Administration Degrees. The Bachelor of Business Administration Degree received a median starting salary of $53.3k.
  3. Bachelor of Engineering - 64% of organizations hired recent grads with Bachelor of Engineering Degrees. The Bachelor of Engineering Degree received the highest median starting salaries of all Bachelor’s Degrees with $64.5k.
  4. Bachelor of Arts - 63% of organizations hired recent grads with Bachelor of Arts degrees. The Bachelor of Arts Degree received a median starting salary of $54.9k.

While recent data indicates that Bachelor’s degrees are being recruited, hired, and compensated competitively across all industries, postgraduates are still being compensated appropriately higher than postsecondary graduates.

Hiring Trends and Compensation Practices for Summer Interns

Just like jobs, not all internships recruit equally. However, there were some similarities between the first, second, third, and fourth-year students that were recruited this past year. Overall, the survey revealed that Bachelor of Science students were the most recruited for summer internships:

  • 25% of organizations hire First-year B.S. students for summer internships.
  • 46% of organizations hire Second-year B.S. students for summer internships.
  • 69% of organizations hire Third-year B.S. students for summer internships.
  • 59% of organizations hire Fourth-year B.S. students for summer internships.

The findings also showed that organizations are becoming dedicated to compensating their interns through monetary and other means, suggesting that the “unpaid internship” is becoming a thing of the past. Throughout the past year:

  1. 89% of all interns were compensated monetarily.
  2. 10% of all interns were compensated monetarily and with course credits.
  3. 1% of all interns were compensated with only course credits.
  4. 0% of all interns received no compensation whatsoever.

Hiring Trends for Co-Op Students

Cooperative education programs provide students with opportunities to gain full-time, hands-on career experience with real companies. This past year, the national average length of co-op assignments was 21 weeks, but this length did vary based on geography. For example, co-ops working on the west coast were on assignment an average of 29 weeks, a whole 2 months longer than the national average.

Meanwhile, students in the Bachelor of Engineering and Bachelor of Science programs were the most frequently hired for co-op jobs across all four years. In fact, surveyed organizations indicated that:

  • For first-year student co-ops hired, 31% were B.E. and 24% were B.S.
  • For second-year student co-ops hired, 55% were B.E. and 39% were B.S.
  • For third-year student co-ops hired, 65% were B.E. and 55% were B.S.
  • For fourth-year student co-ops hired, 59% were B.E. and 53% were B.S.

Want Even More Salary Insight on Internships, Co-ops, and Recent College Graduates?

If you want to discover even more in-depth insights regarding the next wave of talent entering your workforce, the US New Graduate Pay and Student Hiring Rates Survey has the most robust data available. This expansive report features robust survey data on top jobs for college graduates, internship trends, and co-op opportunities across numerous organizations, degrees, and disciplines. Evaluate your talent recruitment strategy today so your organization can thrive tomorrow!