December 19, 2001

Contact: Bob Bruce, 503-725-5714
Source: Nancy Goldschmidt, 503-725-5750

Oregon Grad-level Students Find Jobs, Satisfaction After Studies

EUGENE - Collegians who complete their graduate studies at an Oregon public university have found high levels of success with their educational experience and with finding jobs in the state, according to a new study conducted for the Oregon University System.

The study says 93 percent of those interviewed -- from a graduating class totaling than 3,600 -- are now in jobs "working for pay," with 7 of 10 employed in Oregon. And three-fourths of those interviewed value their graduate or professional experience so highly that they'd select the same Oregon institution for their studies again.

The findings come from a study titled, "The Status of 1999-00 Advanced Degree Recipients: One Year Later." Done for OUS by the University of Oregon's Oregon Survey Research Laboratory, the study is the sixth in series that measures the economic status and satisfaction of Oregon's public university graduates.

The study focuses on advanced degree completers. Some 1,063 students who earned masters, doctoral or professional degrees participated in the telephone sampling.

"An advanced degree profoundly alters the life of the recipient," says Nancy Goldschmidt, OUS associate vice chancellor for performance and planning, who directed the study. "In a knowledge economy, more jobs require advanced degrees. There is also greater stability for those who with advanced degrees, even in a recession."

Among key findings, the study found that 80 percent of the respondents found jobs on the West Coast. Sixty-nine percent work in Oregon. Eleven percent are employed in either Washington or California. Of those employed in Oregon, roughly one-third work in the Portland metropolitan area.

Two-thirds of those employed work in the public sector, with nearly half in teaching, education, training or library positions. About 11 percent work in management. Another 6 percent work in science, community and social services, and business or financial operations. And another 20 percent have found employment scattered among 15 broad educational categories.

The study also found that nearly one-fourth of those interviewed - including many employed by schools and other public agencies -- used a language other than English in their workplace. Spanish was identified as the most commonly used second language.

"These findings parallel demographic changes in Oregon - a growing Hispanic/Latino population," Goldschmidt observes. "Increasingly, OUS graduates are using second languages to provide services to clients in schools, doctor's offices and financial institutions. Foreign language proficiency, not unlike computer skills, gives one a competitive edge in the job search process in many work situations requiring a master's degree or higher."

Financially, 8 of 10 participants said they needed financial aid or other help to complete their graduate studies. Sixty-three percent said they "borrowed money, took out a low, or ran up expenses on a credit card" to pay for their graduate-level education. The median amount borrowed was $15,000.

However, the study also found that higher earnings accompanied higher levels of educational completion.
The median income reported one year after graduation by those earning masters degree was $37,000. For those with professional degrees, the median was $45,000. For those with doctoral degrees, the median was $47,200. In general, salaries for men were higher than those for women and reflected the tendency for women on average to complete degrees and take employment in lower-paying fields such as education and social work.

Overall, those interviewed said the value of their degree - including their experience with faculty, internships, and work in the classroom -- has been "greater than expected. Eight-two percent said they would select the same program again while 74 percent say they would select same institution for their advanced degree work.

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