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The average starting salary to the college Class of 2011 rose 4.8 percent, according to a new report from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE).

The Summer issue of NACE’s Salary Survey report shows the overall average at $51,018, up from $48,661 last year at this time.

This is the third consecutive increase in the overall average offer: The Winter and Spring reports also showed increases in the overall average offer. In comparison, results from all 2010 issues reported losses over 2009.

“The steady increases in starting salary offers we’re seeing this year is a good indication that the job market for new college graduates is gathering strength,” says Marilyn Mackes, NACE executive director.

Another positive sign: Among the disciplines that saw their average offer change, more than 82 percent saw their average offer gain ground.

Overall, the average salary offer to graduates in the business disciplines rose 3 percent to $48,694. Within the individual majors, accounting majors saw a 2 percent increase, and now average $49,671. Similarly, business administration graduates posted a 2.2 percent increase, for an average of $44,825. Economics and finance graduates fared better, 6 percent ($53,906) and 4 percent ($52,351) increases, respectively.

As a group, students in the computer science disciplines saw their average offer rise 4.3 percent to $62,328. Graduates majoring specifically in computer science saw their average salary offer increase 3.7 percent to $63,402, and the average offer to information sciences and systems graduates rose 4.4 percent to $57,499.

The engineering disciplines as a group earned a 2.5 percent increase to their overall average salary offer, which now stands at $60,465—the best increase this group has seen since Fall 2009, when the overall average gained 4.2 percent over Fall 2008. In addition, nearly all of the reported engineering disciplines posted increases, with petroleum engineering and computer engineering grads seeing the highest bumps.

The average offer to those earning degrees in petroleum engineering rose 8.1 percent to $80,849—driven by interest from petroleum and coal products manufacturers, which made nearly 90 percent of the offers to these graduates. The average offer to computer engineering graduates rose 7.6 percent to $64,499.

At the other end of the scale, civil engineering graduates posted a tiny increase—less than 1 percent—bringing their average offer to $52,069. Electrical engineering graduates and mechanical engineering graduates fared better, posting increases of 2.8 ($61,021) and 3.2 percent ($60,345), respectively. Chemical engineering grads saw no movement: Their average offer remains at $65,617.

Humanities and social sciences graduates also fared well in this report: Their average salary offer rose 15.3 percent to $40,057. Although this marks the third consecutive increase for this group of graduates this year, their overall average is just 1.3 percent higher than the average reported one issue ago in the Spring 2011 Salary Survey report, $39,527.

Of the individual liberal arts disciplines, most saw their average offers increase. English majors posted a 6.6 percent increase, bringing their average offer to $39,611. History majors also posted a healthy increase; their average offer rose 8.1 percent to $40,051.

In the social sciences category, psychology graduates saw a whopping 23.8 increase in their average salary offer, which now stands at $40,069. However, that average is skewed—and the median salary is $34,000. Most of the offers to psychology grads were for sales or teaching positions, which averaged $35,362 and $38,866, respectively.

Have you seen evidence of what this survey reports? Share your story below!


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