Professional services, health care top industries for U-M graduates

August 6, 2019
Written By:
Greta Guest

ANN ARBOR—Ten years after earning a bachelor’s degree from the University of Michigan, more graduates work in professional, scientific and technical service fields than any other classification.

The data were released today through a collaboration between U-M, the Institute for Research on Innovation and Science (IRIS), and the U.S. Census Bureau. IRIS partners with the U.S. Census Bureau to link data from participating universities to the Census Bureau’s Longitudinal Employer-Household Dynamics dataset to produce detailed employment and geographical information on alumni. The data covered from 2001 to 2015.

U-M has publicly released data on the industries in which their graduates work. For bachelor’s degree graduates (across all fields and years), the top industries for employment 10 years after graduation were:

  • Professional/Scientific/Technical Services (24%)
  • Health Care & Social Assistance (16%)
  • Education (15%)
  • Finance & Insurance (8%)
  • Manufacturing (8%)

The data show, for all fields of study and all degree levels, the employment industry and location of graduates one, five and 10 years after graduation.



IRIS executive director Jason Owen-Smith, a U-M professor of sociology, said the data are important not only for students and their families, but for researchers studying the value of higher education. For example, the data reveal which fields of study and degree levels produce the highest numbers of graduates who stay in Michigan to pursue their careers.

“Releasing this data publicly will help students and families, as well as researchers from a number of fields, better understand the value of higher education for society,” he said. “IRIS member institutions, employers and the nation as a whole will ultimately benefit from improved knowledge of public higher education.”

The numbers change somewhat depending on a graduate’s major and level of education.

For example, 10 years after graduation English majors’ top industries are education (26%), professional/scientific/technical services (25%), information (10%) and health care & social assistance (10%).

Doctoral students have a different profile. Their top fields 10 years out are education (41%), professional/scientific/technical services (15%), health care & social assistance (10%) and manufacturing (10%).

Among students earning a bachelor’s degree, 70% were originally from Michigan. Among graduates that earned a bachelor’s degree, 24% of students lived in Michigan one year after graduation. This lowers to 20% after five years, but rises to 22% after 10 years beyond graduation. The range is from 8% to 59% depending on major.

The bulk of U-M graduates from 2001 to 2015 stayed close to home after graduating, with 55% in the Midwest, 13% in Mid-Atlantic states, 8% in South Atlantic states and 12% in the West.

After five years, 47% of graduates were in the Midwest, 15% were in Mid-Atlantic states, 10% in the South Atlantic region and 14% in the West.

The shift after 10 years had 44% of U-M graduates in the Midwest, 14% in Mid-Atlantic, 10% in South Atlantic and 16% in the West.

“U-M students at all levels and across all fields move from their academic careers to jobs spanning the spectrum of industry and locations,” Owen-Smith said. “Michigan serves as a hub for a vibrant alumni community that works all over the economy and the nation.”

More details:

Highest percentage of students originally from Michigan
Health and Related (86%)
Education (85%)
Architecture & Related (80%)
Biological & Biomedical Sciences (79%)
Physical Sciences (78%)

Highest percentage of students living in Michigan after one year
Health & Related (59%)
Education (43%)
Engineering (28%)
Liberal Arts & Science, General Studies, Humanities (26%)
Natural Resources & Conservation (26%)


More information: