The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers

Post-Harvard Plans

By Thomas W. Franck

In her 2016 Commencement speech, University President Drew G. Faust commented on the College’s goal as one of “bringing students of diverse backgrounds to live together and learn from one another.” The Class of 2017 will display that diversity of interest and background through their work, education, and travel in the years to come. Following previous years, more than half of seniors surveyed will spend their first year after Harvard in New York, Massachusetts, or California.

Around 60 percent of surveyed seniors will join the labor force within the next year. Seventeen percent will continue their education in professional or graduate programs; 7 percent have accepted fellowship opportunities. While 14 percent remain undecided, the remaining 2 percent will spend their time traveling the globe. Of those entering the workforce, 52 percent will join the consulting, finance, or technology fields.

Coast to Coast

Most of the surveyed members of the Class of 2017 are flocking to coastal hub cities.

  • A tied plurality of students—20 percent per state—will inhabit New York and Massachusetts within the next year. The second-most popular destination, California, will host 14 percent of the graduating seniors.
  • Thirteen percent of the surveyed members of the Class of 2017 will live internationally after Commencement. Of surveyed international seniors, 36 percent will leave the United States, an increase of 13 percent since last year.

From Students to Employees

Most of the members of the Class of 2017 are heading into the workforce after graduation. In keeping with past classes, most working graduates will join the consulting, finance, or technology industries, which have drawn 18, 18, and 16 percent of those among the class who are working, respectively.

  • Four percent of graduating seniors surveyed have accepted jobs in government or politics, while 5 percent have decided to return to the classroom as educators. Six percent are working for nonprofits or in public service.
  • Though consulting, finance, and technology all attract a greater proportion of males than females, the gender gap persists to varying degrees. The technology industry exhibits the widest male-to-female employment gap, with 19 percent of working men and 13 percent of working women entering the field. Twenty percent of male respondents who will be employed will work in finance, compared to 17 percent of employed women surveyed; similarly, 20 percent of employed men will work in consulting, compared to 16 percent of women.
  • By contrast, 8 percent of employed women and 2 percent of employed men will enter the education workforce.
  • Fifty-three percent of respondents in male final clubs or fraternities will enter finance or consulting, compared to the 31 percent of respondents not involved in single gender social organizations who will also work in finance or consulting. Thirty-six percent of respondents who indicated involvement in a sorority or female final club will be employed in either finance or consulting.
  • A plurality—16 percent—of the Class of 2017 believes that, 10 years from now, they will be employed in the healthcare industry. Twelve percent anticipate working in academia, and 10 percent foresee employment in government.
  • While 18 percent of respondents will work in consulting immediately following graduation, only 1 percent believe they will be consulting in 10 years.

Rollin’ in the Dough

Expectations and statistical trends from The Crimson’s survey follow national patterns. The women surveyed, on average, will earn less than their male counterparts while those employed in consulting, finance, and technology will earned more than those in other industries.

  • Roughly 52 percent of surveyed seniors will earn in excess of $70,000 annually, significantly more than the national average as reported by the National Association of Colleges and Employers. The median starting salary is between $70,000 and $89,000.
  • Around 60 percent of men will earn over $70,000 annually after graduation, compared to 44 percent of women. Thirteen percent of men report earning more than $110,000 in salary, while just 4 percent of women said the same.
  • A majority of surveyed seniors—59 percent—anticipate receiving a bonus to accompany their new job. Sixty-four percent of those receiving a bonus note that it will amount to less than $20,000.
  • Sixty-four percent of those respondents who are working in finance will receive bonuses larger than $20,000. No respondents working in public service or for a nonprofit anticipated receiving a bonus.

More than $110,000

$90,000 or more

$70,000 or more

$50,000 or more

Getting by With a Little Help

Forty-six percent of graduates anticipate receiving minor financial support from their parents in the year following graduation, including help with expenses such as cell phone payments and travel expenditure. Thirty-nine percent do not expect to receive any support from their parents, while 15 percent will require assistance paying for major expenses, including rent, and other living expenses.

  • Of the surveyed seniors entering the workforce, 52 percent anticipate receiving financial support from their parents in the year following Commencement. Of those immediately pursuing graduate or professional school, 74 percent expect to receive support from their parents.
  • Sixteen percent of surveyed seniors will graduate with student loans.
  • Approximately 26 percent of those who received full or partial financial aid from Harvard will graduate with student loans whereas only 5 percent of those who did not receive Harvard aid will graduate with outstanding loans.
  • Of the surveyed seniors who will graduate with loans, 33 percent indicate that those loans have influenced their postgraduate plans. Just under half of respondents who plan to enter the consulting industry and will graduate with debt reported that their post-graduation plans were influenced by their loans.