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Rutgers graduate students incur higher entry-level salaries

Students who feel unsure about making the decision to pursue an education beyond undergraduate studies are advised to make an appointment with University Career Services and speak with a Career Development Specialist. CASEY AMBROSIO / STAFF PHOTOGRAPHER – Photo by Photo by Casey Ambrosio | The Daily Targum

Rutgers graduates who further their education after their undergraduate studies have been shown to generate a higher starting salary at the beginning of their careers.

William Jones, the senior director of University Career Services, said that a majority of undergraduate students who responded to their Class of 2016 post-graduation survey said they secured employment within six months of graduation. 

From the 9 percent of students who continued their education, 91 percent said that graduate school was their first choice in terms of post-undergraduate plans. 

“Typically, holding an advanced degree in a particular field does yield higher salaries than those without one within that field,” Jones said. 

The average salary for a class of 2016 graduate student with a master's degree and full-time position was $65,213, compared to a $49,525 average starting salary for students at the undergraduate level, according to the National Association of Colleges and Employers.

In comparison, there was a nearly $10,000 difference in average salary for Rutgers students graduating with a bachelor’s degree compared to graduate students in 2016. Starting salaries may fluctuate greatly based on industry and cost of living within a given geographic location, Jones said.  

The post-graduation survey showed that chemical engineering, biomedical engineering, clinical social work, computer science and psychology are the top five fields that students pursue their post-graduation education in.

Early this month, The Daily Targum reported that psychology and economics are among the most popular majors at Rutgers. As favor of majors in the humanities decreases and those in STEM increase, Glassdoor reports computer science as the highest-paying field to major in, with electrical and mechanical engineering following. 

“Graduate school is not a decision to take lightly,” said Paola Dominguez, an International Student Career Development Specialist at University Career Services. 

It is not an option for students to explore more fields or try new things, but a place to further the learning of a specific field, she said. Graduate school is a serious investment both financially and time-wise. 

Dominguez said for some students, graduate school is not a question about going — but whether attending immediately is the best decision. Fields like medicine and law require more advanced degrees. When it comes to graduate school, proper research is crucial to learning what a student needs to accomplish in order to succeed. 

Approximately 54 percent of Rutgers students who went to graduate school pursued their master’s degree. To pursue an academic or professional doctoral degree, 41.2 percent of the Class of 2016 decided to continue their education within six months of graduation, according to the 2016 post-graduation survey.

The top graduate schools for Rutgers students in 2016 were Rutgers University—New Brunswick, Rutgers University—Newark, New York University, Columbia University and Temple University, according to the survey.

Jones said that more schooling may lead to more income down the road, but that is not the sole reason people choose graduate school. 

He said many students may choose a career that is truly meaningful to them that has less earning potential, regardless of if it requires an advanced degree. 

Dominguez said students considering graduate school can receive assistance from University Career Services in terms of their application timeline, their personal statement and interviews that may be required.

“If you are considering graduate school, make an appointment with a Career Development Specialist,” she said. 

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