A new SUNY database allows students and parents to see...

A new SUNY database allows students and parents to see wage estimates for graduates by program and campus. Credit: Barry Sloan

Students and their parents have a new tool at their disposal when making plans for college and beyond.

SUNY gradwages, a new digital database launched by the public university system in coordination with the state Labor Department, allows users to look up salary estimates for graduates of various degree programs at the State University of New York system’s 64 campuses.

The database “gives students and their parents an expectation of what they can earn years after college, which can then help guide them towards decisions that best suit their personal and financial circumstances,” Kristina M. Johnson, chancellor of SUNY said in a statement.

Using the online dashboard, students can view median wages for grads by degree program, level of degree attained, and SUNY school. Users can also look at wages over time, from one year to up to 10 years after graduation.

“Really all we’re trying to do is give people the capability to cut the data in almost any way that they want,” said Tod Laursen, senior vice chancellor and provost of SUNY. “It’s intended not to be the be-all end-all for a parent of a student that is concerned about these financial issues, but just allow them to play out some hypotheticals and investigate the data on their own.”

SUNY's database tool, which had a soft rollout at the start of the fall semester and will be officially announced this week, uses wage data from 534,406 past students and includes graduates from as far back as the 2005-2006 academic year. 

Laursen said the data tool does not indicate whether a graduate pursued a career outside of their field of study. For example, it would include the salary of an art history grad who now works in investment banking under salaries for art history majors. 

The database only includes wage data for those who found work in New York State after graduation, and does not indicate whether graduates received additional degrees outside of the SUNY system, he said. Searches will not produce wage data if the available sample of graduates for a particular program was not large enough.   

"It’s important to use this in some context," Laursen said. Students and parents should also do other research, including consulting with a school counselor, and have conversations about the types of careers a student is interested in pursuing. "It’s also really important to be passionate about what you’re doing,” he said.

Using the dashboard, students interested in earning a bachelor's degree from Stony Brook University's applied mathematics program would find that prior graduates saw a median income of $37,724 their first year after graduation, and a median salary of $49,883 three years after graduation.

By comparison, graduates who pursued the same degree at Farmingdale State College saw a median income of $34,576 one year after graduation, and a median wage of $51,888 three years post graduation. 

For more information and to use the wage dashboard, visit suny.edu/gradwages/.

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