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Minnesota's new tool shows which college degrees pay off

By Adam Belz, Star Tribune (Minneapolis)
McClatchy-Tribune Information Services

May 30--It's official: Only education majors have slimmer job prospects than theology majors in Minnesota.

Only 13 percent of those who earned a 2011 bachelor's degree in education, and only 14 percent with degrees in theology and religion had a full-time, year-round job in their second year after graduation, according to a new data tool from the Minnesota Department of Employment and Economic Development.

Computer science, business and engineering bachelor's degrees are the most likely to result in a full-time job that lasts through the whole second year after graduation.

Using Minnesota unemployment insurance and Department of Education records, the state is now tracking how quickly new graduates find jobs and how much they are paid. The information is public and can be sorted electronically by type of institution, by course of study and by type of degree -- associate's, bachelor's, master's and certificates.

"For the first time, we have a Minnesota-specific tool that can tell us where 97 percent of students are within 24 months of graduating," said Department of Employment and Economic Development Commissioner Katie Clark Sieben. "Not only will students and their counselors have access to recent data that tells them what industries are growing, but they'll know how much they can expect to earn."

The median annual wage for theology and religion majors was $16,851, both for those who were employed and those who were unemployed. Median wage for computer science majors was $51,141.

The data reinforces anecdotal evidence of just how tough the job market still is for new graduates. Of almost 30,000 people who graduated from a Minnesota college in 2011, nearly 70 percent did not have a full-time, year-round job in their second year after graduation.

The tool, part of a collaborative effort with the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, was developed using data on students who graduated between July 2009 and June 2011, but state officials said that the database will be updated continually.

Larry Pogemiller, commissioner of the Minnesota Office of Higher Education, called the tool a "groundbreaking effort by state agencies" that gives students "a much clearer ­picture of where the jobs are, and what fields of study provide the best earning potential."

Adam Belz -- 612-673-4405 Twitter: @adambelz

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(c)2014 the Star Tribune (Minneapolis)

Visit the Star Tribune (Minneapolis) at www.startribune.com

Distributed by MCT Information Services

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