Skip to content
Mississippi loses half its college...

Mississippi loses half its college graduates to brain drain within three years, OSA report shows

By: Anne Summerhays - April 4, 2022

If the trends continue without being addressed, the State Auditor’s Office said, Mississippi’s “brain drain” is likely to worsen.

On Monday, the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor released a report containing data trends which show a growing number of college graduates choose to leave Mississippi as time passes. As of 2020, only half of graduates from Mississippi’s public universities worked in the state three years after leaving college.

If the trends continue without being addressed, the State Auditor’s Office said, Mississippi’s “brain drain” is likely to worsen.

State Auditor Shad White said that this is a critical issue as the state spends hundreds of millions of dollars each year on its public universities. White said that as State Auditor, he wants to understand how much Mississippi is spending on university students and how many are staying in the state. However as a Mississippian, he is concerned about more than jsut the cost to taxpayers.

“Brain drain forces us to ask questions like, ‘Will our state have enough nurses and doctors to care for the elderly in coming years? Are we keeping the future entrepreneurs who will build Mississippi businesses? Will grandparents be able to see their grandkids grow up?’” White said. “These questions show why brain drain is important to everyone.”

According to the 2020 census, Mississippi is one of only three states to lose population. Data from the Census Bureau shows Mississippi has lost over 60,000 “Millennials,” nearly 10% of the state’s Millennial population, since the 2010 census.

Many of these Millennials are college-educated or skilled workers, and their departure is known as “brain drain.”

“Failure to maintain and replenish our state’s most highly educated population could be disastrous for the economic future of Mississippi,” the report states.

According to the Office of the State Auditor’s report, specific degree programs were identified as being most likely and least likely to lead to employment in Mississippi three years after college for all of the graduates included in the analysis.

Degree-program of graduates most likely to lead to employment in Mississippi three years after leaving college include:

  1. Kindergarten / Preschool Education and Teaching
  2. Social Science Teacher Education
  3. Mathematics Teacher Education
  4. Education, Other
  5. Dental Hygiene / Hygienist
  6. Social Studies Teacher Education
  7. Elementary Education and Teaching
  8. English / Language Arts Teacher Education
  9. Child Development
  10. Registered Nursing / Registered Nurse

Degree-programs of graduates least likely to work in the state three years after leaving college include: Hospitality Administration, Geology and Earth Science, Real Estate, Marking, Computer Engineering, and more.

“The Mississippi Office of the State Auditor published this report because taxpayers deserve to know whether they will see a return on the investment they make into higher education,” the report states. “College graduates have continued to leave Mississippi—sooner after graduation and at a faster rate than they did 10 years ago. Hundreds of millions of taxpayer dollars12 now fund public colleges and universities each year. In addition to the cost of educating university students who do not stay, Mississippi loses future economic activity.”

In February, State Auditor Shad White announced the “Stay in the ‘Sip Fellowship” in an effort to combat “brain drain” and attract talent to the Auditor’s office.

All accounting students at Mississippi colleges and universities are eligible to apply for the fellowship, which also includes a paid internship. All students must maintain at least a 3.0 GPA to apply and participate in the fellowship program and commit to working at the State Auditor’s office for at least two years after graduation.

You can view the full report from the Mississippi Office of the State Auditor below.

Mississippi Office of the State Auditor Report April 2022 by yallpolitics on Scribd

About the Author(s)
author profile image

Anne Summerhays

Anne Summerhays is a recent graduate of Millsaps College where she majored in Political Science, with minors in Sociology and American Studies. In 2021, she joined Y’all Politics as a Capitol Correspondent. Prior to making that move, she interned for a congressional office in Washington, D.C. and a multi-state government relations and public affairs firm in Jackson, Mississippi. While at Millsaps, Summerhays received a Legislative Fellowship with the Women’s Foundation of Mississippi where she worked with an active member of the Mississippi Legislature for the length of session. She has quickly established trust in the Capitol as a fair, honest, and hardworking young reporter. Her background in political science helps her cut through the noise to find and explain the truth. Email Anne: