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172178_2018 05 10 Tickle College of Engineering Commencement 41265 EC636

With commencement right around the corner, UT’s soon-to-be graduates are contemplating what’s next.

To provide a glimpse of what happens to students when they leave Rocky Top, UT’s Center for Career Development has released a survey of UT graduates from the 2017–18 academic year. The survey looks at career trends of the new alumni, including levels of employment, top location, top employers, and highest and median salary. It also looks at top graduate school choices.

The 2018 survey collected the responses of students graduating with bachelor’s degrees in August 2017, December 2017, and May 2018. According to the survey, 56 percent of these students began full-time employment while 25 percent reported starting graduate school. 

Center for Career Development Director Stephanie Kit said these students—as well as those who will graduate this year—are benefiting from an exceptionally strong job market.

“Unemployment rates are low in general and low for college graduates, so we are seeing a lot of grads get hired into full-time positions within six months or go on to grad school,” Kit said. 

Although UT graduates embark on careers worldwide, many opt to stay in Tennessee.

Seventy-four percent of the UT graduates responding to the survey chose to remain in the South, with 56 percent of those staying in Tennessee. While UT’s high percentage of in-state students likely contributes to these numbers, Kit believes that many out-of-state students end up falling in love with the area during their time here.

The largest East Tennessee employers of recent UT grads are UT Medical Center, DENSO, Oak Ridge National Laboratory, 21st Mortgage, and UT.

The survey reports the highest entry-level salary as $145,000, with the mean salary being $46,801.

UT is the top graduate school choice for UT graduates. Other top graduate schools are UT Health Sciences Center, East Tennessee State University, and Lincoln Memorial University. 

“We’re lucky to live in a part of the country that has a low cost of living and offers a lot of different opportunities,” Kit said. 

According to Kit, these statistics have remained relatively steady over the past few years.

Kit advises students to get involved with the Center for Career Development early in their studies to start developing a career plan. 

“You don’t have to know what you want to do to use us,” Kit said. “It’s really more about how we can help you get to where you want to be.”


Katherine Saxon Keith (, 865-974-8365)