CORVALLIS, Ore. - A graduate degree from a major Oregon university is a near certain ticket to full employment, a generous salary and surprisingly high satisfaction with one's training and education, a new study suggests.
These findings, which were based on a follow-up survey of about 1,200 recipients of advanced degrees between 1986 and 1991, were presented today to the Oregon State Board of Higher Education.
"The report speaks very well for graduate education in Oregon, especially under the financial constraints of recent years," said Thomas Maresh, dean of the graduate school at Oregon State University.
"Not only are we providing Oregonians a great education, but these programs are a magnet to attract the best and brightest students from around the world," he said. "And the study shows a majority of students stay in Oregon to become our future leaders in education, business and industry."
The study examined attitudes, employment and socioeconomic status of recent graduates of OSU, Portland State University and the University of Oregon, which award 89 percent of the master's, professional and doctoral degrees in the Oregon State System of Higher Education.
The levels of career achievement, employment and satisfaction with their educations were similar for students from each of the universities, the report concluded, and many graduates tended to be employed near their alma mater.
OSU graduates were the most likely to be employed full time; more likely to have worked on a research project during college; and most apt to rate their education as very good or excellent.
OSU grads also had about the same likelihood as those of the other universities, 96 percent, of finding work in a managerial or professional position; and in saying they were somewhat or very satisfied with their education. Other findings of the report include:
- About 98 percent of those who completed a graduate or professional degree five to 10 years ago, and want a job, are employed.
- The graduates are predominately in managerial and professional occupations, such as business executives, engineers, computer scientists, professors, teachers, lawyers and medical professionals.
- More than 60 percent of the survey respondents are employed in Oregon and 80 percent on the West Coast.
- The median personal income in 1995 for the graduates was between $40,000 and $50,000, and about 16 percent made $60,000 or more.
- About 79 percent of the graduates rated their education "very good" or "excellent."
- About 94 percent were satisfied with the education they received, and 83 percent said, if they had it to do all over, they would enter the same program again.
"I think one of the most interesting findings was that most students said they would make the same education decisions again if they had to do it over," Maresh said. "That's the best compliment you can get."
The study found that advanced degree recipients are spread broadly among different economic sectors, including government, education, nonprofit organizations, self-employment and private industry.
For most of these students, their graduate degree from an Oregon university was the end of the academic line - only 5 percent went on to get a higher degree somewhere else.
Maresh said that many people don't appreciate the key role that graduate students play at a major university.
They are often partners with world-class scientists in research, assist in educating undergraduate students and help to attract the best faculty in a competitive national environment. The quality of programs, depth of study and integration of graduate students into cutting-edge research have made United States graduate schools the envy of the world, Maresh said.