UW touts study showing salary averages for graduates

MADISON — University of Wisconsin graduates earn a median salary of about $49,000 one year after graduating, and those from Wisconsin are about six times more likely to remain in the state than those who come to the school from elsewhere, a school-funded study released Sunday showed.

The analysis was the first of its kind done by the University of Wisconsin System's Office of Policy Analysis and Research. It merges graduation, residence and earning data to calculate the impact of a UW System education. UW said the data is more accurate than typical post-graduation surveys that rely on self-reported information. The analysis relied on information from more than 12,000 graduates over the past six years.

The report's release comes as UW will once again be defending itself before the Legislature in the face of massive budget pressure caused by the coronavirus pandemic's economic fallout. UW schools already cut more than $40 million from their current fiscal year budgets under an order from Gov. Tony Evers. But even deeper cuts are expected for the next budget year, which begins in July, and beyond.

UW leaders heralded the study's findings as evidence that a degree from a system school pays off. The report found that one year after earning a bachelor's degree, the median salary for a UW graduate was $49,200. That increased to nearly $59,000 after three years and $66,500 after five years.

Nearly 90% of graduates from Wisconsin remained in the state five years after graduating, the survey found, compared with just 15% for those who came to college from out of state.

The university paid about $267,000 for the study. UW System Regents President Andrew Petersen said the report will help UW officials make a compelling argument to legislators that the system deserves more funding because it helps build the state's workforce.