From the outbreak of Covid-19 and the subsequent eviction from campus to the war in Ukraine and recent economic downtowns, the Class of 2023’s time at Harvard has been marked by global uncertainty and turbulence. Yet, their postgraduate plans closely follow in the footsteps of previous graduating classes.
After Harvard, the Class of 2023 will gravitate toward the coasts: more than half of surveyed seniors are headed to California, Massachusetts, or New York. Similar to previous years, a plurality of seniors — 41 percent — will start their careers in consulting or finance and earn starting salaries more than 50 percent higher than the national median household income as of 2021.
Compared to last year, fewer seniors will immediately enter the workforce after graduation, down from 67 percent to 58 percent. One in five graduates will continue their education at graduate or professional schools, while 6 percent will participate in a fellowship program. Still, another 11 percent of seniors remain undecided about their postgraduate plans, up just one percentage point from 2022.
America’s coasts continue to draw a majority of College graduates, following a yearslong trend. Nearly 70 percent of seniors plan to live in coastal states. Still, many won’t be going far from Harvard: One-fifth of respondents report that they plan to stay in Massachusetts. Consistent with previous years, other popular domestic locations include California, New York, and Washington, D.C., which will soon welcome 12 percent, 23 percent, and 5 percent of surveyed seniors, respectively.
Twelve percent of seniors will jet off to destinations outside of the United States. For these graduates, Europe is a clear favorite: 71 percent of respondents planning to leave the United States — and nearly 9 percent of seniors overall — will head for Europe. Just 2 percent of seniors plan to live in Asia, while Canada, Latin America, and the Middle East and North Africa will be home to less than 1 percent of graduates each.
Postgrad plans significantly influenced where seniors are headed after college. Roughly half of seniors pursuing fellowships will complete their programs in Europe. Among those working in tech, 41 percent will flock to California, and about 70 percent of respondents working in finance will call New York home.
More than one in 10 respondents said they were unsure of where they will be living next year, up from 8 percent in 2022. Nearly half of these seniors plan to work in academia or conduct research.
Most taking on jobs after graduation will work in one of four sectors: academia or research, consulting, finance, and technology.
More than one-fifth of respondents entering the workforce said they plan to work in finance, and 19 percent will go into consulting, on par with last year’s numbers. But most don’t intend to stay for long: only 37 percent of finance-bound seniors and 5 percent of consulting-bound seniors hope to remain in the same industry 10 years after graduation.
Fewer seniors plan to work in technology than in 2022, dropping from 17 percent to 12 percent. Meanwhile, 11 percent will work in academia or research.
Outside of these four sectors, 8 percent of respondents will work in health, 6 percent will work in government or public service, 5 percent will work in engineering, and 3 percent will go into entertainment or the arts.
Like previous classes, the majority of the Class of 2023 will earn hefty salaries in their first year out of college.
Nearly half of seniors planning to work after graduation will take home a six-figure starting salary, with 41 percent earning at least $110,000 — an uptick from last year’s report of 30 percent. More than two-thirds of graduates will make more than $70,000, surpassing the national median earning for college graduates by at least $10,000. Less than 4 percent of respondents said they anticipate making less than $30,000, down from 7 percent in the Class of 2022, while 1 percent of students plan to take an unpaid position after graduation.
Reported income among respondents headed into the workforce correlated with the level of financial aid they received from Harvard. Among students awarded full financial aid, 30 percent will earn above $110,000, compared to 40 percent of students on partial financial aid and half of students who received no financial aid.
Income disparities also arose based on gender, as in previous years. The rate of male respondents reporting incomes above $70,000 outpaced that of female respondents by 14 percentage points. Of seniors who will fall in the lowest income bracket (below $30,000), 83 percent identify as female.
Students with Advanced Standing reported higher salaries than their peers, with 91 percent indicating they will earn more than $90,000 compared to just 52 percent of other students. Computer Science emerged as the most immediately profitable concentration, leading the pack with 72 percent of surveyed concentrators reporting starting salaries over $110,000.
For most of the graduating class, family considerations factored into planning for the future. Roughly three-quarters of seniors reported that their family’s socioeconomic status greatly or somewhat informed their decisions about what to do after graduation.
More than 60 percent of respondents said they expect to receive some level of financial support from their family next year, with one-fifth expecting to receive substantial financial support, like rent and living expenses. This marks a slight increase from 15 percent of seniors expecting substantial support in 2022 and 17 percent in 2021.
For seniors entering the workforce, expected support had a significant impact on industry choice. The percentage of respondents pursuing finance nearly doubled among respondents expecting no family support compared to those expecting some level of aid. The percentage working in technology nearly tripled. Graduates expecting some financial support from their families will enter into the entertainment, education, and health industries at rates four times, three times, and nine times higher than their peers, respectively.
Other factors affecting the postgraduate plans of the Class of 2023 include the Covid-19 pandemic and student loans. Half of respondents said that the pandemic greatly or somewhat informed their plans — a plurality of these seniors will work in consulting after graduation. More than one in 10 respondents said they will graduate with student loans, a reality 38 percent of them said impacted their decision-making about postgrad plans.