Frequently Asked Questions

About the SUNY Graduate Wages Tool

What is the objective of the SUNY Graduates’ Wages Tool?
To provide information to the public about the wages of SUNY graduates. Wage outcomes are only part of a fulfilling professional life. The wages tool only offers guidance for you to determine for yourself how wages play a role in your life and your own personal, professional, and academic goals.

Will these be my wages if I graduate from one of these SUNY programs?
No, this tool does not guarantee any particular earnings. The wages presented in the SUNY gradwages dashboard are derived from previous years' combined academic and employment data and are intended to illustrate the potential earnings by program of study based on recent SUNY graduate employment outcomes. Wages of individual graduates depend on other factors that go beyond the higher education award obtained.

Does this tool show all active academic programs at SUNY?
No, this tool shows the wages of the students who graduated from academic programs that were active for the graduation year cohorts represented. For example, Annual Median Wages for 3 years after graduation include graduates from academic programs active in 2011-12, 2012-13 and 2013-14. Some of those programs may have been discontinued after 2014 but the students’ wages are still being tracked until the most recent wages year of 2016-17, regardless if the academic program still exists or not.

Also, a program may have been active during the graduation year displayed in the cohort, but may be too new to have any graduates or do not have over 10 graduates with wages.

What is the source of the wages data?
Wages data come from the New York State Department of Labor (NYS DOL) Unemployment Insurance (UI) System. These data include around 97 percent of New York’s non-farm employment.

Are all the New York State wages included?
No. The data only includes the wages reported to the UI System. Categories of employment not covered by UI include the self-employed, most federal employees including military, and several small categories of employment.

Graduates of some fields of study are more likely to fall into one of the above categories. For example, graduates of visual and performing arts programs are more likely to be self-employed and therefore the wages from the tool account for only part of their wages.

Do you use other sources of data?
Other sources include: SUNY data warehouse and The National Student Clearinghouse for graduates and enrollment in other institutions of higher education.

How are the wages calculated?
Wages are calculated only using the wages of students with at least three quarters of data for the years reported.

Are the wages displayed for full-time employment?
The wages data from NYS DOL does not indicate whether the individual was employed full-time or part-time. To partially address this limitation, the analyses presented use the Federal minimum wage threshold as a lower limit for calculation purposes. This lower limit was based on the Federal hourly minimum wage from 2015 ($7.25) X 35 hours a week X 52 weeks. Hence, annual wages below $13,195 are excluded from the analyses.

How do you calculate the percentage working in NYS?
This percentage is the total SUNY graduates found working in NYS divided by SUNY graduates who were part of the data exchange with NYS DOL.  

From when are the wages used for the wage calculations?
We use the most recent wages available. Depending on the wages calculation, we use wages from years 2014-15, 2015-16, or 2016-17. Note that all the wages were adjusted for inflation to years 2016-17.

Are wages of graduates who continued with their higher education after graduating included?
The tool offers the option to exclude or include from the wages calculations graduates who were enrolled in an institution of higher education during the year of the reported wages.

Do these wages follow a set group of graduates over time?
No, the same group of students are not included in the one, two, three, five, and ten year wages calculations. We use the three most recent cohorts of graduates available for each of the wage calculations. For example, the wages one year after graduation are for 2013-14, 2014-15, and 2015-16 graduates while the wages two years of after graduation are for 2012-13, 2013-14, and 2014-15 graduates. Note that the ten years after graduation wages only include two cohorts of graduates (2005-06 and 2006-07).

How do you report the wages of SUNY graduates who earned more than one award?
If a student earns one award and then subsequently earns another award within the graduation years represented, only the most recent award is included in the wages calculation. If a student earns a combined award of two award levels such as a B.S./M.S., only the highest award is included in the wages calculation. If a student earns a combined award of the same award level such as a M.B.A./M.P.H, both awards are included in the wages calculation.

We also exclude from the calculations graduates who earned a non-SUNY award after completing a program in SUNY.

No data or limited data is showing after filtering for a particular program area. Is there a problem?
Data is not displayed when the number of graduates that match the criteria result in less than 11 graduates due to our data sharing agreement with NYS DOL.