Corporate hiring: the most in-demand colleges and degrees by Fortune 500 companies
August 6, 2021
For many, higher education is a once-in-a-lifetime experience. One that can act as a springboard into a fulfilling, lifelong career. That’s why it is so important to make the right choice about the education you want and where you want to receive it.
Not all colleges are created equal – some institutions are ideally suited to the type of career you want and the field you want to work in. Meanwhile, some colleges may be less suited to your ambitions. While there are many important factors to consider when choosing the right college for you, there are some ways to identify the best colleges more efficiently. We are here to help with this.
At Degree Choices, we researched which colleges the world’s top companies hire from the most, as well as the most sought-after degree subjects for all. Take a look at our guide to find out the U.S. colleges and degrees that are most in-demand across the top 20 Fortune 500 companies.
The top colleges for Fortune 500 careers
University of Phoenix
With 15,924 current University of Phoenix alumni working at the top 20 Fortune 500 companies, this is the current number one university for anyone wishing to work at the top of American industry. The most popular degree topics taken for these employees at the University of Phoenix include business administration, marketing, healthcare, and behavioral science. Notable alumni include basketball legend Shaquille O’ Neal, former Secretary of Transportation Mary E. Peters, and entrepreneur Peter Sperling, one of the wealthiest people worldwide.
University of Washington
Next on the list is the University of Washington, which has 14,264 current graduates who work for the top 20 Fortune 500 companies. The oldest university on the West Coast, notable alumni include actress Anna Faris, architect Minori Yamasaki (designer of the World Trade Center), and Bill Gates Sr., the father of the world’s most famous tech entrepreneur.
Meanwhile, 7 Nobel Prize winners and 17 MacArthur Genius Grant winners have graduated from UW. Unsurprisingly, UW regularly tops rankings as the best school to land a job in big tech, owing to the close connections that the school has with tech titans in the Pacific Northwest, such as Amazon and Microsoft.
University of Mumbai
Located in India’s economic epicenter, the lush green campus of the University of Mumbai has cultivated 5,801 graduates who are now working within the top 20 Fortune 500 companies. Notable alumni include legendary Bollywood actress Aishwarya Rai Bachchan and former Deputy Prime Minister of India Lal Krishna Advani. The university also has strong links with tech multinationals operating in India. This is why Apple, AmEx, Samsung, and others regularly offer work placements to University of Mumbai students.
Georgia Institute of Technology
With 5,292 current alumni now working at the top 20 Fortune 500 companies, the Georgia Institute of Technology in Atlanta is a great place to jump-start your career. Notable alumni include former U.S. President Jimmy Carter and CEO of Walmart Mike Duke. G-Tech also has formal industry partnerships with some of the most desirable Fortune 500 companies in America, with students being afforded opportunities to gain experience at companies such as Adobe, Intel, KPMG, Ford, and Emory Healthcare, to name a few.
Known by many as the official university of Silicon Valley because companies such as Facebook and Apple are known to recruit directly from it, Stanford University in California has produced many illustrious careers. Notable alumni include Larry Page, Sergey Brin, and Herbert Hoover. Stanford remains the finishing school of choice for ambitious tech grads, which is why it has risen through the Ivy League ranks to become the number one most applied-to college in America over the past decade.
The most in-demand degree subjects
According to our research, certain degree subjects are more desired by America’s top employers. By looking at LinkedIn hiring data from the top 20 Fortune 500 employers in the country, we were able to determine the degree subjects most likely to help you obtain a job.
Given the emerging dominance of Silicon Valley in the Fortune 500, computer science and information technology degrees are among the most in-demand qualifications by far. According to research, the number of computer science grads in America has doubled in the past decade alone. As a result, computer science now ranks among the most popular programs in the country.
Top employers across all sectors need graduates who are competent coders and developers, as well as people who are adept at understanding and constructing IT systems. Within the field of computer science, qualifications in cybersecurity and DevOps are predicted to encounter the largest growth in demand in the coming years.
Business and management-related degrees are also seeing high levels of demand from employers, with MBAs, finance degrees, management degrees, and economics degrees all featuring in the top 20. These types of degrees are in high demand across all sectors, as dynamic companies seek those with leadership skills and business strategy to help fuel growth.
Within traditional Wall Street employers such as Goldman Sachs, JPMorgan Chase, and Berkshire Hathaway, there exists a strong preference for graduates from specific business management and finance courses. These courses include the Harvard MBA, Wharton management, or the University of Chicago economics degree.
Less conventional degree paths are also in high demand across all employers. 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.
Meanwhile, accounting degrees, which have remained in strong demand for decades, continue to rank among the top qualifications sought by Fortune 500 companies. Financial titans such as JPMorgan Chase are among the top recruiters of accounting grads, although companies from all sectors are seeking out people with these skills.
The skills that Fortune 500 employers want
Across all positions and departments, the skills listed by Fortune 500 employers as being most desirable in a candidate all showed some remarkable similarities. Across the top 10 Fortune 500 employers, the following skills are currently most in-demand:
No matter your industry or field of study, being proficient in core Microsoft Office solutions such as Excel, Word, and PowerPoint remains crucial for career success. Office skills rank as the top attribute sought by Fortune 500 employers, as all major U.S. companies use Office daily for the majority of business functions. Therefore, it is important to choose a degree program that can teach these vital skills.
Customer service and sales
Even if you are not going to be working in a customer-facing role, it seems clear that top employers expect you to have strong customer service skills. This is because customer service skills show that you are good at managing people and that you can display loyalty to an employer. When studying for your degree, a part-time job in a service role could provide you with vital skills for post-graduation.
When Fortune 500 companies recruit, they are looking for tomorrow’s leaders. That’s why leadership skills are highly sought out by all major employers, as these demonstrate that a candidate is independent, forward-thinking, and confident enough to deliver. Many of the top degree programs in areas such as business and management offer dedicated leadership classes to help you hone these skills.
Perhaps surprisingly, public speaking skills are ranked among the most sought-after qualities in candidates for Fortune 500 companies. By working for one of America’s top companies, you will be representing the company in everything that you do. It is essential that you can speak confidently, compellingly, and authoritatively on matters concerning your role.
Regardless of whether you wish to work in the IT sector or not, you should expect to be asked what your programming skills are. Companies across all sectors, including healthcare, law, and communications require specialist candidates to have experience in common languages such as SQL, Python, Ruby, and Java. Consider a programming degree that will make you employable across a broad spectrum of sectors.
The best companies for your degree
A degree in accounting can open doors for you in virtually any industry. All successful companies need sharp analytical minds to keep track of the numbers and help ensure profitability. With a formal accounting qualification, you can work in a wide variety of areas, including bookkeeping, auditing, budgeting, financial analysis, HR, and management. Within the Fortune 500, talented accounting graduates are recruited by a diverse array of employers, such as UnitedHealth, Walgreens, AT&T, Alphabet, and ExxonMobil.
If you have a passion for teaching, a degree in education can open up an incredibly rewarding career path. As we explain in our in-depth guides to formal education training, there are many fulfilling and high-paying roles in the education sector. However, this is not the full story. In recent years, corporate employers within the Fortune 500 have been seeking out graduates with education degrees. This is partly because education graduates tend to possess a wide range of vital soft skills, including the ability to manage and lead people from all walks of life.
Nursing and healthcare
A degree in nursing and healthcare can help you pursue a career in care and improve lives. A nursing degree can be put to good use in a wide variety of contexts; for example, you can work directly with patients in the public sector as an RN. In addition, you can have the opportunity of a career at a top Fortune 500 company, either in direct patient care or in non-patient-facing roles such as product development and diagnostics. Major health industry players such as UnitedHealth, CVS, McKesson, and Cigna all actively recruit nursing graduates for a wide range of roles.
As mentioned, a degree in psychology can open numerous doors for you. Psychology graduates are highly sought across virtually all sectors, with many employers looking to tap into their skills to help better understand user behavior to enhance product development. There are various career paths that you can undertake with a psychology degree, ranging from clinical diagnosis to societal behavioral analysis. Among the Fortune 500, some of the top employers currently looking for psychology grads include Amazon, Apple, Verizon, Home Depot, CVS Health, and Berkshire Hathaway.
Begin your journey to the Fortune 500 today
If you are ready to embark upon your educational journey to land your dream career, we are here to support you. Make sure to read our in-depth degree guides to learn more about the courses you can take to pursue a Fortune 500 career.
We analyzed the top 20 Fortune 500 companies’ employee stats on LinkedIn. Taking the top 15 universities attended, degrees, and skills we created this list.