MIT’s high standing in employability rankings explained

At MIT, we know that the students we work with are incredible, and we see our graduates go on to make remarkable, meaningful impact. An MIT student’s future potential is common knowledge at the Institute, and we’ve continually seen it recognized off-campus. MIT students pursuing graduate and professional school are recognized with distinguished fellowships like Rhodes and Fulbright, and in 2021, 74% of students working with Prehealth Advising were accepted into medical school.  

When students are ready to enter the workforce, they have one of the most respected degrees in the world. For the past four years, MIT has maintained the top place in Quacquarelli Symonds (QS) World University Rankings’ Graduate Employability Rankings, based on responses from over 75,000 employers. In November, the Institute ranked number one on the Times Higher Education (THE) Global Employability Rankings, which draws on a survey of almost 11,000 international recruiters and managers across 23 countries and regions.  

So, what makes an MIT degree so desirable to employers?  

“Employability surveys are based on several factors, including employer reputation, graduate and alumni outcomes, company partnerships, and the opportunities that students and employers have to connect,” Deborah Liverman, Executive Director of MIT Career Advising and Professional Development (CAPD), said. “It may not be surprising that MIT does well in employability. Our reputation with employers is impeccable, as they describe most MIT students and graduates as innovative problem solvers enthralled in their work and demanding the best from others.” 

“When you mix MIT students with the opportunities offered to them on campus, you have a winning combination,” Liverman added. “CAPD works tirelessly to bring employers to students through job listings, company site visits, and career fairs. Our great colleagues across our partner offices — including those in the Office of the Vice Chancellor like the Priscilla King Gray (PKG) Public Service Center, the Office of Minority Education, and the Experiential Learning Office — provide excellent experiential learning and ensure diversity of opportunities. Of course, data about student and graduate experiences inform our decisions as well as employability results, so CAPD collaborates with Institutional Research to survey graduates, providing the Institute-level data you’ll see below. When you put all of this together, you can see why MIT would be highly ranked in employability.” 

Below, the data expands on two key points of employability ratings: experiential learning and employer connections. 

Experiential learning 

In 2021, THE’s Global Employability Rankings saw employers rank “Graduate Skills” or “Soft Skills and Digital Literacy” as their most important factor when considering new hires — in 2019, it was driver #4.  

For short-term employability, employers ranked their most-desired soft skills as problem solving and critical thinking; initiative; technology affinity; curiosity; and resilience. Top long-term employability skills were communication; creativity; collaboration; social and cultural awareness; emotional intelligence; and programming skills. 

Those skills are naturally built into MIT’s experiential learning opportunities, from the Undergraduate Research Opportunities Program (UROP) to micro-internshipsMIT International Science and Technology Initiatives (MISTI) to the Undergraduate Practice Opportunities Program (UPOP), student organizations to the Priscilla King Gray (PKG) Public Service Center… the list goes on.  

According to MIT’s 2021 Graduating Student Survey, a majority of students participated in one or more experiential learning opportunity during their degree program: 

  • 93% of undergraduates participated in a UROP 
  • 82% of undergraduates and 60% of Master’s students had an internship 
  • 78% of undergraduates and 62% of Master’s students engaged in leadership activities 
  • 48% of undergraduates and 25% of Master’s students took part in service 
  • 47% of undergraduates and 18% of Master’s students had educational experiences abroad 

In MIT’s 2021 Doctoral Student Exit Survey, data shows that the majority of students participated in co-curricular activities, and around half participated in extracurricular activities: 

  • 83% were teaching assistants (TAs), and a combined 86% found the experience either somewhat or very helpful to their professional development 
  • 93% were research assistants (RAs), and a combined 96% found the experience either somewhat or very helpful to their professional development 
  • 48% engaged in leadership activities 
  • 39% took part in service 
  • 37% participated in internships during their program 

As THE describes in the 2021 rankings, “In addition to its world-leading courses, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology also offers career-enhancing programs for undergraduates, industry leaders and the general public. … MIT students, alumni and faculty members play key roles in entrepreneurial innovations, including developing advanced computer networks, securing venture capital transactions, and biotechnology.” 

Employer connections 

In QS’s Graduate Employability Rankings, MIT earned a full 100.00 in three indicators — Employer Reputation, Alumni Outcomes, and Partnerships with Employers — as well as a 96.0 in Employer-Student Connections. 

As for THE, employers also highlighted the importance of partnerships: “Many companies have significant involvement with college courses and research, often spanning disciplines and lasting a number of years.” 

Students’ experience with employers often has a direct impact on their post-graduation employment. The GSS found that previous internships or externships led 50% of Bachelor’s graduates and 31% of Master’s graduates to the offers they accepted. In 2020, those numbers were 36% and 29% respectively. 

Networking was also a key factor – 40% of Bachelor’s graduates and 41% of Master’s graduates said that they used networking through MIT connections to find the job they accepted. Other MIT resources listed included: 

  • Career fairs (38% Bachelor’s, 18% Master’s) 
  • Career Advising and Professional Development (37% Bachelor’s, 30% Master’s) 
  • Departments, including faculty, academic and administrative departments, UPOP, etc (21% Bachelor’s, 18% Master’s) 
  • Clubs or organizations (14% Bachelor’s, 18% Master’s) 

Learn more 

Interested in learning more about student successes? View the annual Graduating Student Survey, Doctoral Student Exit Survey, and Summer Experiences Survey

By Lydia Huth
Lydia Huth Communications Specialist