The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers

Though their undergraduate careers will come to a close on May 24, much of the Class of 2018 will have little difficulty maintaining friendships in their postgraduate lives: Most surveyed seniors are moving to coastal hubs to start their careers in traditionally lucrative industries. A majority of students—65 percent—will enter the workforce in their first year after graduation. Fifteen percent will attend graduate or professional school, while another 8.5 percent will continue their education through a fellowship program. Just under 10 percent aren’t sure what they’ll be doing next year, but about 2 percent intend to spend the time traveling.

Location, Location, Location

  • Closely mapping patterns of previous years, a plurality of respondents—22 percent—will move to New York after graduation. Massachusetts and California, the second and third most popular states, will be home to 20 and 15 percent of the surveyed Class of 2018, respectively. 4.9 percent will relocate to Washington, D.C., and 7.3 percent are still undecided.
  • 9.1 percent of surveyed seniors plan to relocate internationally after graduation, including 5.4 percent who will move to Europe.
  • Twenty percent of international students will leave the United States after Commencement.

On the Job

Three fields again claimed a lion’s share of the senior class entering the workforce: 18 percent of respondents said they would go into consulting, 18 percent into finance, and 14 percent into technology, closely in line with previous years.

  • Four percent of respondents plan to go into government or politics, 3.5 percent into nonprofit or public service work, and 5.4 percent into education. Eight percent will enter academia or do research, while 5.8 percent will work in the arts or entertainment industries.
  • Fifteen percent of respondents said the 2016 election influenced their postgraduate plans. Of those, 37 percent said they decided against pursuing a job in the federal government, while 18 percent said they took a job in the public sector instead of the private sector. Seven percent said they now hoped to run for political office.
  • Gender gaps persist in the three largest industries. Male respondents comprise roughly 60 percent of respondents entering consulting, finance, and tech next year.
  • Academia and research, meanwhile, attracted 10 percent of surveyed women entering the workforce and 6.3 percent of surveyed men.
  • A majority of surveyed final club members plan to go into finance and consulting—52 percent will enter the fields next year, compared to 29 percent of surveyed students who were not members of final clubs.
  • Looking forward 10 years, a plurality of respondents—18 percent—say they hope to end up in the health field. Academia and research was the second most popular field, with almost 13 percent of respondents aspiring to end up in the field in a decade. Just 1.7 percent of respondents said they aimed to be consultants in 10 years, and 5.8 percent said they would like to end up in finance.

Must Be the Money

Working members of the Class of 2018 will make, on average, significantly more than the average American recent college graduate who earned approximately $51,000 in 2017, but gender discrepancies will persist.

  • Fifty-three percent of working respondents say they will earn salaries of $70,000 or more in their first year, including 11 percent of respondents who will take home more than $110,000 per year.
  • Ten percent of respondents said they will make less than $30,000 in their first year of work, including 2.3 percent who plan to take unpaid jobs.
  • Around 60 percent of male respondents said they will earn over $70,000 annually, compared to 46 percent of female respondents. Seventeen percent of men said they will earn more than $110,000 in salary, while only 4.6 percent of women said the same.
  • A majority of respondents—59 percent—anticipate receiving a bonus in their first year of work, including 24 percent who expect the bonus will be in excess of $20,000.
  • Seventy percent of respondents working in finance expect a bonus of over $20,000 in their first year, while over 90 percent of respondents in the public service and education fields anticipate receiving no bonus at all.

More than $110,000

$90,000 or more

$70,000 or more

$50,000 or more

Phoning Home

  • Roughly 60 percent of respondents said they anticipated receiving financial assistance from their parents, including 14 percent who planned on receiving “substantial” help with rent or other living expenses.
  • 16 percent of respondents said that they would graduate Harvard with student loans. Of those students, 26 percent said their loans had impacted their postgraduate plans.
  • Roughly a fifth of respondents said their family’s socioeconomic status “greatly” informed their postgraduate plans. Another 49 percent said it had mattered “somewhat” to their planning, while 30 percent said their family’s financial situation did not factor into their decision at all.