UT System grads out-earn peers in Texas and U.S., but salary disparities persist

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A new study from Georgetown University released Wednesday morning showed higher earnings for University of Texas System bachelor’s degree holders, while emphasizing the importance of a student’s major, gender and background on salary outcomes.

Three years after graduation, UT System graduates in Texas earn an average of $39,600,  surpassing the overall averages for all workers with a bachelor’s degree in Texas ($36,800) and in the United States ($34,000), according to the study conducted in partnership with the UT System.

The study released Wednesday, titled “Majors Matter Most,” looked at all UT System schools and confirmed choice of major as the greatest determinant of college graduates’ potential earnings.

“Usually a more selective college is going to result in higher earnings, but choice in major is more important,” said Megan Fasules, co-author of the study.

As the highest paid majors in the study, architecture and engineering students earned $65,000, while biology and natural life sciences students earned the least, with a median salary of $25,000. Fasules said this contrast results from differences in career paths and job markets, including the tendency for natural life sciences graduates to go to graduate or medical school.

More data about UT System graduates’ earnings by major and institution is accessible through the online SeekUT tool. Stephanie Bond Huie, UT System vice chancellor for strategic initiatives, said the UT System wants to provide the data to help students and parents understand the cost and potential earnings associated with careers when choosing a major.

Despite the importance of majors, the study also found salary differences by factors such as gender. For example, women graduates in fields with more female workers, such as education and psychology, initially outearned men in the study, but fell behind male graduates three years later.

While the study points out that the disparities follow national trends, UT System graduates were still affected by lower salaries correlated with minority racial and socioeconomic backgrounds.

“There’s an approximately $6,000 difference between African-American and Hispanic, Latino UT System grads, compared to white and Asian graduates,” Huie said.

In architecture and engineering, 17 percent of Latino graduates took up blue collar jobs in the field. In fields with high post-graduation earnings gaps by race, such as business, UT System institutions could help students “make more connections and broaden their social network while in college,” Huie said.

The study also reported that graduates who received pell grants, financial aid given to lower-income college students, earned $37,100, falling behind graduates who did not receive the federal subsidy ($42,000).

Though the report does not take into account relatively new support programs, David Laude, UT-Austin senior vice provost for strategic initiatives, said the University Leadership Network at UT-Austin, established in 2013, helps prepare students for their careers. Pell-grant students in the ULN program complete yearly internships and community service for scholarships.

“It increases the likelihood that they will engage with the University in productive ways that will get them ready for careers,” Laude said. “It makes them more likely to network and then when they leave the University they’re more likely to get jobs that they seek.”