The Graduating
Class of


by the numbers

After Harvard

By Hannah Natanson and Derek G. Xiao

When it comes to post-graduate plans, Harvard’s Class of 2019 is pretty similar to its forebears — most surveyed seniors will move to the coasts, work in traditionally high-paying industries like finance or consulting, and draw salaries significantly larger than those seen by the average American college student in the first year after graduation. A clear majority of respondents — 64 percent — plan to enter the workforce, while 16 percent will attend graduate or professional school. Roughly 8 percent will stick to the books by pursuing fellowship programs, roughly 10 percent are undecided, and just 2 percent expect to spend the first year out of college traveling.

Oh, the Places They’ll Go

A majority of surveyed members of the Class of 2019 will be staying on one of the two American coasts after graduation.

  • As in previous years, a plurality of respondents — 23 percent — indicated they plan to move to New York within the next year. The second and third-most popular states among graduating seniors are Massachusetts and California, which will host 21 penrcent and 14 percent of the Class of 2019, respectively.
  • Eleven percent of students plan to live outside of the United States after graduation. Of those, more than half will relocate to Europe.
  • Ten percent of students said they are still undecided about where to live after graduation.

Workin’ For A Livin’

As has been true for the past several years, three industries dominate Harvard seniors’ post-graduate plans. Of respondents who plan to enter the workforce, a plurality — 18 percent — indicated they are going into consulting. Finance and technology clocked in at a close second and third in terms of popularity, drawing 16 and 14 percent of graduating seniors, respectively.

  • After entering the workforce, attending more school marked the next-most popular post-graduate plan for members of the Class of 2019. Sixteen percent of surveyed respondents indicated they will attend graduate or professional school directly after college.
  • Of surveyed seniors who will enter the workforce, 6 percent indicated they plan to work in the health industry. Five percent will go into government or politics, 7 percent into public service or nonprofit work, and 6 percent into academia or research.
  • Sixteen percent of respondents indicated the the 2016 election — which took place when members of the Class of 2019 were sophomores — changed their postgraduate plans. Of those, 35 percent said they decided not to pursue a job in the federal government after the events of November 2016, while 15 percent said they chose to take a job in the public sector rather than in the private sector. Six percent now hope to run for political office.
  • Gender gaps in consulting, finance, and technology still exist for the Class of 2019 — but shrank slightly as compared to previous years. Fifty-seven percent of those who indicated they will pursue post-graduate jobs in consulting are male, compared to 58 percent of those who will work in finance and 54 percent of those taking technology jobs.
  • By contrast, 80 percent of those planning to pursue work in the health industry are female; as are 62 percent of those who will work in academia and research; and 64 percent of those who will work in education.
  • Fifty-six percent of surveyed members of all-male final clubs or fraternities will enter finance or consulting, compared to 26 percent of respondents not involved in social organizations. Fifty-three percent of respondents who indicated involvement in a sorority or female final club will work in either finance or consulting.
  • As in previous years, a plurality of respondents — 17 percent — said they hope to wind up working in the health field in 10 years. Academia and research is the next-most popular field, with 1i percent of respondents aspiring to end up in those industries within a decade. Just two percent of respondents said they plan to be consultants in 10 years, and 5 percent said they want to wind up in finance.

Money, Money, Money

Once again, the freshest batch of Harvard seniors will make — on average — much more than the average recent graduate in the United States. While the typical American college student can expect to draw roughly $48,000 a year, a slight majority of the Class of 2019 indicated they expect to earn a salary above $70,000 in their first year out of college. Gender discrepancies also persisted; as in previous years, male respondents were more likely to report higher salaries than were female respondents.

  • Fifty-three percent of surveyed Harvard seniors said they will earn salaries of $70,000 or more in their first year out of school, including 12 percent who indicated they will draw more than $110,000.
  • Nine percent of surveyed students said they will earn less than $30,000, while 3 percent indicated they expect to take unpaid jobs.
  • Sixty-four percent of male respondents indicated they expect to earn more than $70,000 each year, while 44 percent of female survey takers indicated the same. Seventeen percent of male respondents said they will earn more than $110,000, compared to just 8 percent of female respondents.
  • As was the case last year, a majority of respondents — 58 percent — said they expect to earn a bonus in their first year of work. Roughly 22 percent believe the bonus will total more than $20,000.
  • Sixty-eight percent of students working in finance expect to earn a bonus totaling more than $20,000 in their first year on the job, as do 23 percent of seniors who will take consulting jobs. No students who plan to work in academia expect to draw bonuses; nor do the vast majority — 93 percent — of respondents who intend to work in public service or nonprofit jobs.

More than $110,000

$90,000 or more

$70,000 or more

$50,000 or more

A Helping Hand

  • Sixty-two percent of graduating seniors said they expect to receive some kind of financial assistance from their parents in the first year after graduation, with 17 percent indicating they expect that that support will be “substantial” — most likely coming in the form of rent or living expenses.
  • Eighteen percent of respondents indicated they will graduate from Harvard with student loans. Of those who will leave the school with student loans, 31 percent said the loans affected their post-graduate plans.
  • Twenty percent of surveyed seniors said their family’s socioeconomic status “greatly” informed their post-graduate plans, while 28 percent indicated their family’s socioeconomic status did not inform their post-college decision-making. The majority of respondents — 52 percent — indicated their family’s socioeconomic situation “somewhat” informed their post-Harvard plans.