Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 2, 2021

Data suggests little relation between major, employment

By FRANK BRANCATI | September 27, 2012

Surveys conducted by the Hopkins Career Center concerning how Hopkins graduates are faring in today’s jobs market show that 41 percent of the graduating class of 2011 found full time employment six months after graduating. Another 37 percent went on to graduate school or professional school. Of the remaining respondents, 9 percent had found part-time employment or were involved in unpaid volunteer work. This left 7 percent actively looking for work and 6 percent  actively applying to graduate programs.

Unemployment in the United States has risen drastically in the past five years, more than doubling between 2007 and 2009. It currently is at 8.1 percent. That is 3.4 percent higher than five years ago, only recently beginning to improve. However, according to the United States Department of Labor’s Bureau of Labor Statistics, this number is much lower for college graduates, at only 4.1 percent.

Students at Hopkins seem to have some definite preconceptions as to which majors will lead to employment after graduation, and which will not.

“The word on campus is that engineers can get a job immediately out of college, more easily than humanities majors,” sophomore Aryel Abramovitz said.

When asked which majors he thought would have the highest employment rate, freshman David Davino’s response was simple.

“Engineering,” Davino said.

“Highest employment, I imagine, would be any of the engineering majors. And for lowest employment, I’m going to say Writing Seminars,” freshman Greg Adoff said.

These conceptions are unfounded, according to Mark Presnell, director of the Hopkins Career Center. Presnell took up a counter argument to the idea that certain majors would prove more likely to find employment than others.

“Regardless of what your major at Hopkins, we know that you’re going to be successful after you graduate,” Presnell said. “Success, for us, is defined as you are employed full time, you are enrolled in a graduate program. You will see that there are some majors that send a large percentage of their students to graduate school and if that’s what they want to do, we want to support them.”

He continued by elaborating on the consistency between disciplines.

“If you break it down by major, are some majors going to do better or worse than others? Sure, but realistically you’re not going to see a grand deviation,” he said. “I would be shocked if 20% of any major would be looking for a job. Realistically, our students do well after they leave here.”

The Hopkins Career Center has five years of compiled data concerning the employment rates of every major, and this information largely corroborated what Presnell had to say. Overall, the data suggests that the majority of majors, ranging from the sciences to the humanities, have greatly similar rates of employment after graduation, as well as acceptance into graduate programs.

While many majors’ employment statistics might at first glance seem low, such as fields like biomedical engineering, with only 32 percent employment, occur because the bulk of graduates, usually about 60 percent or more, in those disciplines are pursuing graduate studies.

The Writing Seminars major, thought by many to yield the lowest employment rate, in fact has just as many students entering the workforce successfully after graduation as electrical engineering. Professor Jean McGarry, Co-Chair of the Writing Seminars department, addressed the stereotype that surrounds her program.

“I think that it seems like an enjoyable major. Kids come here, they take IFP, and think ‘you know, I would rather be doing this than chemistry.’ And so it’s that [other] Hopkins students are so driven that they think [Writing Seminars] is a way to goof off, which it isn’t, really. It proves right now to be as convertible, I think, as any liberal arts degree,” McGarry said.

The majors which by far exhibited the highest out of college employment rates were Economics and Sociology, each with a 73 percent full time employment rate. 9 percent of graduates in those disciplines are actively searching for employment, the data say.

The major with the highest rate of graduates actively searching for employment was Film and Media Studies, with 15 percent still looking for employment.

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