College graduates’ risk of unemployment varies by major

Rachel Musselmann

In their first year after graduation, Colorado State University students who studied engineering, computer science or business fare best, according to information provided by the Colorado Department of Higher Education.

CSU students who do not go on to complete a second degree after completing a bachelor’s degree also earn less: the higher the degree, the higher the average first-year earnings.


Across the country, recent graduates may face differing levels of unemployment, according to a study released by Georgetown University.

In 2013, researchers found that recent college graduates with a bachelor’s degree are bearing the greatest risk for unemployment, with unemployment rates ranging from a low of 4.8 percent to a high of 14.7 percent, depending on major.

The fields with the greatest employment potential were nursing, at 4.8 percent, and elementary education, at an even five percent. Researchers found that recent graduates in the fields of architecture or information systems may face unemployment rates as high as 14.7 percent, higher than the national average for non-college graduates.

Colorado State University post-graduate statistics (Infographic by Mariah Wenzel)
Colorado State University post-graduate statistics show that in the first year, science majors and doctoral graduates fare best. (Infographic by Mariah Wenzel)

The findings said recent graduates in sectors more affected by financial crisis or still in recovery from the recession are more likely to experience unemployment than graduates with majors in other sectors.

Summer Schaffer, associate director of communications, outreach and technology at Colorado State University’s Career Center, said to combat unemployment, students should start planning early.

“We encourage students to set up a meeting with the career education manager as soon as possible,” Schaffer said. “That’s especially true if they’re about to graduate. We want to see students at least a semester before they graduate.”

Schaffer said resources available to students include Ram CareerReady, an online portal for 24-hour employment education, and alerts to job opportunities on campus and nationwide. Services are even offered to alumni looking for a job.

Often the biggest obstacle to a graduates’s employment is themselves, Schaffer said.

“Students get out and are wandering around, wondering what to do, and they don’t even know about the resources available to them,” Schaffer said.

Despite the projections for unemployment, a college education is still worth the effort, researchers say. Overall unemployment rates during this period were 9 to 10 percent for non-college graduates compared to 4.6 to 4.7 percent for college graduates 25 years of age or older.


Collegian Reporter Rachel Musselmann can be reached at or on Twitter @rmusselmann.