Michael T. Nietzel, Senior Contributor
September 4, 2021
A new analysis of more than 150,000 LinkedIn pages reveals which universities have the most graduates employed at the 20 leading Fortune 500 companies in the United States. The study – entitled Corporate hiring: The most in-demand colleges and degrees by Fortune 500 companies – was conducted for DegreeChoices, a website that offers advice to students about their college and career decisions.
Here’s how the study was done. The authors examined more than 150,000 LinkedIn profiles of current employees in a variety of leadership roles at the top 20 Fortune 500 companies (as of 2021) to identify their educational backgrounds. They then tabulated the universities attended and degrees earned by these individuals.
It’s important to remember that not all employees in these companies have a LinkedIn profile so the numbers below are not definitive. They are likely to underestimate the number of alumni from a given institution. Furthermore, different companies have very different percentages of employees who maintain such profiles. For example, while 94% of JPMorgan Chase’s 250,000+ employees had a LinkedIn page, only 23% of Walmart’s more than two million employees had one.
The Top 20 Universities With Alumni At Fortune 500 Companies
- University of Phoenix had 15,924 alumni working at these companies, which include the likes of Walmart, Amazon, Apple, CVS Health, Microsoft, Verizon and AT&T.
- University of Washington, 14,264 alumni
- University of Mumbai, 5,801
- Georgia Institute of Technology, 5,292
- Stanford University, 4,639
- University of California, Berkeley, 4,302
- University of Southern California, 4,213
- University of Texas, 3,938
- Arizona State University, 3,820
- Cornell University, 3,680
- Pennsylvania State University, 3,214
- Strayer University, 3,025
- University of Arkansas, 2,845
- Massachusetts Institute of Technology, 2,692
- San Jose State University, 2,661
- Northeastern University, 2,302
- University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, 2,251
- Harvard University, 2,220
- Purdue University, 2,195
- University of Pennsylvania (Wharton School), 2,022
As would be expected, several elite research universities like Stanford, MIT and Harvard are included. But public universities also do very well; 10 make the list. The ranking includes some other surprises. Two private, for-profit universities – the University of Phoenix and Strayer University are included, as is one international university – the University of Mumbai. Two universities that might not have been predicted to make the top 20 – the University of Arkansas and San Jose State University – may have been advantaged by their proximity to Fortune 500 companies.
The data can be looked at another way – which specific companies hire the most graduates of a given university. Take, for example, the first five institutions from above. What companies hired the most alumni from each?
At the University of Phoenix, the top Fortune 500 employers were:
- AT&T – 2,705
- Walmart – 2,232
- Amazon, 2,213
- Verizon Communications, 2,212
- UnitedHealth Group, 2,212
For the University of Washington, the most hires were at:
- Microsoft – 7,187
- Amazon – 5,716
- Apple – 660
- AT&T – 472
- Costco Wholesale – 229
The University of Mumbai had three of the top 20 Fortune companies hire its graduates:
- JPMorgan Chase – 2,891
- Amazon – 1,726
- Microsoft – 1,184
Georgia Institute of Technology
- Amazon – 2,214
- Home Depot – 1.018
- Apple – 921
- AT&T – 876
- ExxonMobil – 260
- Apple – 2.104
- Amazon – 1,373
- Microsoft – 1,152
- Alphabet Inc. – 10
What They Studied
Additional examination of the hiring data allowed the researchers to identify the kinds of undergraduate majors that were most frequent among these graduates.
Given the prominence of digital enterprises in the Fortune 500, computer science and information technology degrees were the most in-demand backgrounds.
Within the field of computer science, cybersecurity and DevOps were popular specialties that are also predicted to see significant growth in the future.
Degrees in business, management-related fields, economics, and finance were in high demand across all sectors, including retail, healthcare, business consulting, finance and communications.
Wall Street employers such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway continue to prefer students from brand-name schools with traditional business-related degrees. Leading examples were the Harvard MBA, Wharton School management, and the University of Chicago economics degree.
Accounting degrees have long been a popular pathway to Fortune 500 employment, and they continue to rank among the top qualifications sought by these companies.
Finally, according to the DegreeChoices staff, a few “less conventional degree paths” are also in high demand. “For example, psychology graduates are now highly sought-after by Fortune 500 employers such as Amazon, CVS, and Apple. This is partly because trained psychologists have expert insights into consumer psychology and user behavior, which tech companies can use to build better, more user-friendly products.”
These results confirm several other studies showing that there are many educational pathways to highly successful careers and positions of leadership. Graduating from an elite college may give you an advantage in landing a job at one of the nation’s biggest companies, but it’s not the only way to get there.