Post-Graduation Plans of STEM Students

The Post-Graduation Plans of STEM Students
March 18, 2015

When looked at by individual majors, STEM students from the Class of 2014 had varying plans for after graduation, according to NACE's Students in Demand: An Insight Into STEM Graduates report. For example, while nearly two-thirds of computer science and engineering majors indicated plans to enter the private sector, about half of chemistry and biology majors planned to continue their education. (See Figure 1.)  Other highlights from the report regarding the post-graduation plans of STEM majors include:

  • Mathematics majors were quite likely to plan on pursuing either a private-sector career or a teaching career.
  • Students from the four natural science groups-biology, chemistry, physics, and "miscellaneous natural sciences" (e.g., geology, meteorology, and astronomy)-were most likely to plan on continuing their education, and to a lesser, but not insignificant degree, planned to enter the private sector. Biology majors also expressed a comparable likelihood to enter the nonprofit sector.
  • Environmental science majors were the most likely of all STEM majors to be unsure of their post-graduation plans, and were split almost evenly among entering the government sector, entering the private sector, or continuing their education.

Figure 1 | PLANS AFTER GRADUATION, BY STEM MAJOR

Computer Science Engineering Mathematics Biology
Private Sector 62.3% Private Sector 62.2% Continue Education 29.3% Continue Education 43.9%
Continue Education 15.7% Continue Education 14.7% Private Sector 25.9% Nonprofit 13.3%
Government 6.2% Not Sure 7.4% Teach 19.8% Private Sector 12.5%
Not Sure 5% Government 4.0% Not Sure 7.8% Not Sure 11.9%
Nonprofit 3.0% Nonprofit 3.2% Other 5.2% Time Off 8.5%
Time Off 2.1% Time Off 3,1% Nonprofit 4.3% Other 3.4%
Other 2.1% Teach 2.4% Government 3.4% Government 3.2%
Own Business 1.8% Other 1.7% Time Off 2.6% Teach 2.5%
Teach 1.2% Own Business 0.7% Military 1.7% Military 0.4%
Military 0.6% Military 0.7% Own Business 0.0% Own Business 0.4%
Chemistry Physics Environmental Science Misc. Natural Sciences
Continue Education 46.3% Continue Education 40.0% Government 22.3% Continue Education 29.6%
Private Sector 25.7% Private Sector 33.3% Private Sector 20.4% Private Sector 24.1%
Nonprofit 11.0% Not Sure 8.9% Not Sure 19.4% Not Sure 13.0%
Time Off 6.6% Time Off 6.7% Continue Education 17.5% Nonprofit 9.3%
Not Sure 2.9% Teach 4.4% Nonprofit 8.7% Government 9.3%
Teach 2.2% Nonprofit 2.2% Time Off 4.9% Other 5.6%
Government 2.2% Government 2.2% Other 3.9% Teach 5.5%
Other 1.5% Military 2.2% Own Business 1.9% Time Off 3.7%
Military 1.5% Other 0.0% Teach 1.0% Own Business 0.0%
Own Business 0.0% Own Business 0.0% Military 0.0% Military 0.0%

source: Students in Demand: An Insight into STEM Graduates, National Association of Colleges and Employers