Lights from passing traffic on Magdalen Bridge at night
Magdalen Bridge
(Image credit: Henry Lee / Graduate Photography Competition)

Careers and alumni

A graduate degree from Oxford can greatly enhance your skills and career prospects. What's more, you'll have access to outstanding careers support and advice for life, as well as exclusive resources and opportunities.

Graduate outcomes

What do Oxford graduates do and where might an Oxford degree take you? The most recent Graduate Outcomes Survey (GOS) with data collected from 2017-18 research graduates approximately 15 months after graduation shows the possible routes and careers paths.

The survey was sent to 1,286 recent PGR graduates; 721 responses were received giving a response rate of 56%. Further details and key figures from the survey response data are shown below.

Summary

  • Almost 80% of recent PGR graduates were in paid work for an employer; less than 3% were unemployed and looking for work.
  • Almost all employed graduates were in graduate level jobs, mostly in education, research and development, or health industries. 
  • More than half of those reporting said they took their job as it fitted with their career plans or was exactly what they wanted to do. 
  • 52% of graduates in paid work for an employer were on a fixed-term contract lasting 12 months or longer, and 42% were employed permanently.
  • Average annual salary was £41,600, with a median of £35,700 (from 320 graduates that disclosed annual salary in pounds).
  • Almost 89% of graduates agreed their current work was meaningful and that they were utilising what they had learnt in their studies.

Survey results

Main activity 15 months after graduation

  • Paid work for an employer: 79.6%

  • Engaging in a course of study, training or research: 6.1%

  • Unemployed and looking for work: 2.6%

  • Self-employment/freelancing: 2.6%

  • Caring for someone (unpaid): 1.9%

  • Running my own business: 1.8%

  • Doing something else: 1.7%

  • Developing a creative, artistic or professional portfolio: 1.4%

  • Taking time out to travel: 0.8%

  • Retired: 0.7%

  • Voluntary/unpaid work for employer: 0.7%

The main reason to take the job*

  • Fitted into my career plan/it was exactly the type of work I wanted: 57.4%

  • To gain and broaden my experience to get the type of job I really want: 13.1%

  • It was the best job offer I received: 8.6%

  • It was the right location: 7.0%

  • In order to earn a living: 5.7%

  • To see if I would like the type of work it involved: 4.9%

  • It was an opportunity to progress in the organisation: 2.0%

  • The job was well paid: 1.2%

Top industries of employment (accepting more than 10 graduates)*

  • Entered education: 45.8%

  • Entered scientific research and development: 13.6%

  • Entered human health activities: 7.3%

  • Entered computer programming, consultancy and related activities: 5.6%

  • Not known: 4.4%

  • Entered activities of head offices including management consultancy activities: 2.8%

  • Entered financial service activities (except insurance and pension funding): 2.8%

  • Entered activities of extraterritorial organisations and bodies: 2.1%

  • Entered public administration and defence including compulsory social security: 2.1%

Top occupations (more than 10 graduates)*

  • Natural and social sciences professionals: 46.0%

  • Teaching and education professionals: 13.4%

  • Business, research and administrative professionals: 11.1%

  • Information technology and telecommunications professionals: 5.7%

  • Health professionals: 5.1%

  • Not known: 3.8%

  • Business, finance and related associate professionals: 3.0%

*Limited to respondents in paid work for an employer.

Further graduate destinations data:

Previously all undergraduate and postgraduate alumni have been surveyed approximately six months after they leave Oxford as part of the Government's Destination of Leavers from Higher Education (DLHE) survey. 

The report includes:

  • Overview of destinations
  • Destinations by course
  • Sectors and roles
  • Employment locations in the UK
  • Salaries
  • Type of further study by division and department
  • Type of further study by course.

The results of those surveyed between 2012-17 (those who left in the academic years of 2011/12 - 2016/17) can be viewed at DLHE Survey 2012-2017

Advice and support

Comprehensive careers advice and support for all our graduate students is available from our expert Careers Service, and not just while you’re here: our careers support is for life.

The careers services available to Oxford students include:

  • 1:1 meetings with a careers adviser
  • 12 careers fairs each year, with 600+ exhibitors
  • more than 200 events run by employers and careers advisers each year
  • over 12,000 vacancies advertised on CareerConnect each year
  • a wide range of skills and employability programmes
  • exclusive internship programmes.

As a graduate student, you’ll be able to use the University’s Careers Service throughout your studies, and for the rest of your life.

Personalised advice

The University’s Careers Service is here to help you prepare for your future, whether you have a clear idea of what you’d like to do next, or no idea at all.

Every year, the Careers Service holds over 5,500 appointments with students and alumni. You’ll be able to book 1:1 careers consultations with experienced careers advisers to get impartial, confidential careers advice based on your needs. Specialist advisers can provide advice tailored for students with different requirements, including students with disabilities. 

Alumni can book 30-minute consultations over Skype or meet in person with a Careers Service adviser to help with job-seeking or a change of career.

Resources and opportunities

As one of our graduate students, you’ll be able to take advantage of services available only to Oxford students. This includes talks from industry experts, skills workshops, updates from the Careers Service and access to CareerConnect.

CareerConnect is the University’s careers hub, available only for Oxford students and alumni. About 12,000 vacancies are advertised every year on CareerConnect.

Chances to meet employers

Many top employers visit the University as part of one of our many careers events held throughout the year. 

Our most popular fair, the Oxford University Careers Fair is held in Michaelmas term (October) and welcomes employers coving a wide range of sectors. There are also careers fairs for specific careers or sectors, such as the Law Fair, Finance Fair, Careers in Computing Fair, Science, Technology and Engineering Fair and Jobs for Mathematicians Fair.

Many of our departments have close links with industry and host visits from industry employers, allowing students to find out more about potential career options.

Support for DPhil students

The University aims to provide you with the best possible opportunities for personal and career development. You’ll receive tailored support through your division’s graduate school, including a broad range of training courses and workshops for developing both academic and professional skills. You may also benefit from skills training from the Bodleian Libraries, IT Services, the Language Centre, and researcher development across other divisions.

Your supervisor will help you to identify courses that will be most useful to you and build a bespoke programme of training and development based on your individual needs.

Teaching and demonstrating are a great way to develop a range of personal skills, and reinforce your knowledge of your subject. You may take up teaching opportunities within your faculty or department, particularly if you intend to pursue an academic career path.

Whether you plan to stay in academic research, or are exploring other options, the Careers Service offers dedicated services for researchers, including advice and resources on:

  • exploring career options within academia and beyond
  • making your DPhil count
  • boosting your employability
  • making applications

This includes Career Management workshops to help you consider possible career paths, identify what you have to offer and focus on boosting your core skills.

At the annual Careers Conference for Researchers, you’ll have the opportunity to learn more about career paths that may be open to you and meet potential employers. At many fairs, the Careers Service runs Researchers@, a pre-fair hour hosted by a specialist careers adviser to help you get the most from the fair.

The Research Careers website is edited by DPhil students and researchers, working in partnership with the Careers Service. Here, you can find career profiles across a range of fascinating sectors written by researchers now working outside academic research.

Skills and employability

Oxford is one of the top 10 universities in the world for graduate employability (QS World University Rankings 2020). Our graduate degrees are highly regarded by employers. During your time at Oxford, you’ll have plenty of opportunities to develop your skills and enhance your career prospects.

In addition to the valuable experience you’ll gain as part of your degree, our Careers Service can help you identify your needs and improve those skills through programmes that emphasise real-world experience and problem-solving.

Exclusive internships

You’ll be able to apply for internships offered exclusively to Oxford students. These are a great way to gain experience, build your CV and explore possible career paths. 

The Summer Internship Programme offers access to global internship opportunities during the summer vacation. Hundreds of 2- to 12-week summer internships are available in more than 40 countries (including the UK), and in a wide variety of sectors.

Here are just some of the exciting funded opportunities that have been previously offered:

  • Internships with world-leading international development organisations, such as the UN Development Programme and development charities in Africa, Asia and Latin America.
  • Placements at multinational firms like Sony in Japan and boutique finance companies around the world;
  • Scientific research internships with universities and institutes in India, Brazil, Russia, Germany, China and more;
  • Teaching positions in schools around the world;
  • Arts and heritage internships, from the State Hermitage Museum in St. Petersburg to the Naval History Museum in Washington DC.

The Micro-Internship Programme offers convenient, short-term work placements with organisations in the UK and Europe. Placements can be research-based or professional, and host organisations range from investment banks and consultancy firms to tech start-ups and heritage sites. Your travel and lunch expenses will be covered, and they’re an excellent way to fit valuable work experience around your studies. 

Development opportunities

The Oxford Strategy Challenge (TOSCA) is a team-based experiential learning event with participants working on real strategy-focused client challenges over a week. It offers an opportunity to develop a broad range of transferable skills including teamwork, leadership, communication and business awareness. These along with the client relationship experience, will help you demonstrate your potential in applications, on your CV and in interviews.

Progressing from the Oxford Strategy Challenge, the Student Consultancy is an innovative scheme that can help you gain demonstrable skills in consultation and collaboration, as part of helping local business, charities and community organisations with their real business challenges. Since the scheme’s launch, over 3,000 students have taken part, helping more than 250 clients.

As part of a team, you’ll work over eight weeks to address a strategic issue or business problem for a client organisation in Oxford or the surrounding area. Students at every level can benefit from the programme—you’ll have the chance to develop your skills in strategic thinking, self-management, team working, commercial awareness, problem-solving and communication.

For DPhil students, the Researcher Strategy Consultancy can help develop the core employability skills you’ll need to transition into analytical, business or policy roles in the public or private sector. Working in small teams over a 3-month period, you’ll address a strategic issue or business opportunity for a client organisation. The programme offers huge benefits, whatever your career plans.

Become an entrepreneur

Oxford has an excellent track record in fostering entrepreneurship and innovation. The University provides an ideal environment for starting a business, with a wealth of support, training and funding available to help you bring your ideas to life. 

Commercialising research

We're focused on the real-world impact of our research. We’re one of the UK’s most successful organisations for commercialising research through technology licensing, accounting for £1 for every £10 earned by UK higher education. 

Oxford University Innovation (OUI) has created over 160 spinout companies—more than any other UK institution—and was named best in the world in the 2017 Global University Venturing awards. These spinouts have raised over £1.9 billion in external investment since 2011, and now have a global turnover of over £600 million. The OUI’s new £500,000 fund, SE2020, supports the development and acceleration of spinouts where the focus is solving a social or environmental problem. 

Oxford Sciences Innovation, a company in its own right, is the largest university venture fund manager focused on a single institution in the world, with £580 million under management.

You can visit our Started in Oxford page, or follow the hashtag #StartedinOxford to find out more about the many exciting companies created here. 

Get involved

We believe that anyone can be an entrepreneur. Whether you have a great idea of your own or want to get involved with an existing project, at Oxford you can find like-minded people, build confidence, develop your business judgement and gain practical skills that will support your future.

Oxford is home to the largest student entrepreneur society in Europe, Oxford Entrepreneurs, which offers events, networking and competitions, as well as opportunities for pitching, funding and learning. 

There are opportunities to try out consultancy, including the Consulting Services at OUI and the Student Consultancy from the University Careers Service. 

The Oxford Foundry is a new entrepreneurial hub at the heart of the University. The Foundry is a centre for entrepreneurship and a thriving community where you can collaborate and exchange ideas while gaining skills in technology, leadership and personal resilience. Through its competitive accelerator programme, the Foundry supports and nurtures early-stage start-up teams affiliated with the University.

The Oxford Hub is a charity aiming to help empower people to make positive change in their communities, with a network of student-run groups. Together with the University’s Research Services, it offers the Social Enterprise Awards for Oxford students and staff. If you have a project you’d like to incubate, you can apply for a ‘Try It’ grant of £500 or a ‘Do It’ grant of £5000. Through the scheme you’ll also be able to access support for your project and become part of a community of people tackling social and environmental issues in Oxford. 

For a comprehensive guide to what’s going on at the University, visit Enterprising Oxford

Alumni

After your degree, you'll join our community of more than 300,000 Oxford alumni worldwide. Your membership of the University can have lifelong benefits, particularly for your career.

Careers advice and support

As an Oxonian, you can benefit from the University's support at every stage of your career, wherever you are in the world. Whether you're searching for your first job, thinking about a career change or hoping to network with others in your industry, we have a range of services to help you:

  • search job vacancies on CareerConnect
  • attend our career fairs
  • arrange a 1:1 appointment with a careers adviser, either in person or via Skype
  • attend events tailored for alumni.

Networking

The Oxford Alumni Community is a professional networking platform, designed to help you connect with Oxford alumni all over the world. You can use the community to:

  • access the knowledge, expertise and connections of fellow Oxonians
  • find and post jobs exclusively within the alumni community
  • reconnect with other alumni
  • share your expertise, offer advice and become a mentor
  • find out about events for Oxford alumni. 

Alumni groups

Oxford's alumni network is global: there are over 150 regional alumni groups in 90 countries. Alumni groups are a great way to keep in touch with fellow Oxonians and continue your relationship with the University, as well as providing opportunities for networking or careers mentoring.

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