Xu, Y. J. (2013). Career outcomes of STEM and non-STEM college graduates: Persistence in majored-field and influential factors in career choices. Research in Higher Education, 54(3), 349-382.

Using data from a nationally representative, longitudinal survey of college graduates, this study examines student transition from college to their chosen career paths and identifies factors influencing college graduates’ choosing an occupation related to ones’ undergraduate major. Within the context of expanded econometric framework a wide range of variables are considered, including monetary and nonmonetary costs and benefits as well as cultural and social capital measures. Using multinomial logit regression analyses, the results suggest positive career outcomes associated with individuals who have an occupation closely related to their college major, such as a better income profile and greater job satisfaction. Major-based differences are also examined between STEM and non-STEM graduates, and patterns of changes are documented for 10 years after graduation. An important perspective offered by this study is to consider career outcome as an extended definition of institutional effectiveness and student success. Based on the empirical findings, policy implications are discussed with the hope of bringing attention and improvement to the relationship between the higher educational system and the labor market.

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