This fall, we welcomed 700 first-year students. My hope for them is that they, like you as alumni of Oregon State, will appreciate the value of their science degree and experience firsthand its powerful impact on their career and their lives. Since 2008, more students are seeking degrees with titles that sound like jobs, a lingering aftereffect of the Great Recession. Whereas many students once sought an education to broaden their minds and perspectives and as a means to better navigate the world, now students are feeling tremendous economic pressure to get a degree that will land them a well-paying job. The escalating cost of college tuition has forced students and parents to examine the return on investment of a college degree. As a result, enrollment in academic programs like engineering and business have surged, while academic programs in the humanities and arts have declined. We have held steady in Science, with flat or slightly declining enrollment.
The message we need to communicate is that investing in a science degree is a good decision. It is valuable both as a means to get a good paying job and to better understand our world. But many students and their parents do not realize the incredible rewards of a science degree. I believe that Science offers students, and society, the greatest opportunity for innovation, creativity and discovery to solve the 21st century problems that affect us all.
As an example, the College Salary Report states that the average mid-career employee with a biology degree earns $77,200 per year. Employees with a biochemistry and molecular biology degree average $103,400 per year. For physics graduates, it is $110,000 per year, similar for those with mathematics degrees. Most of these employees do not hold jobs with titles like “biologist, “physicist” or “mathematician.” However, the training that these graduates received is highly valued by employers, often for positions with vastly different job titles.
A science education at OSU gives students the best long-term insurance for successful careers in innovation, entrepreneurship and leadership. In this newsletter, read about the extraordinary impact science alumni, students and faculty at Oregon State University are having on our world.
Dean, College of Science