HEAD TO THE COASTS FOR THE TOP STARTING SALARIES
The average student loan debt for undergrads stands at $29,400 according to The Project on Student Debt. For business majors looking to shed this burden early, it pays to get the highest-paying job possible. After Berkeley, you’ll find Penn graduates earning the highest starting salaries at $69,600. However, Penn isn’t cheap, with U.S. News reporting annual tuition and fees standing at $47,688.
Clarkson University, a private school in northern New York, clocks in at #3, with an average starting salary of $66,400. In fact, Clarkson grads’ early earnings eclipse more renowned programs like the University of Texas, New York University, and Boston University by $10,000 or more. Behind Clarkson, you’ll find Santa Clara University ($62,000), Babson College ($61,500), Lehigh University ($60,700), the University of Virginia ($60,200), UCLA ($59,900), Villanova University ($59,700), and Boston College ($59,700). In fact, you’d need to get to St. Louis’ Washington University at #14 to find a school with high-paying starting salaries that wasn’t based on either the east or west coast.
Looking for disappointments? Let’s start with Indiana University, ranked #8 by Bloomberg Businessweek, where students only earn $51,200 to start, a lower figure than programs like Messiah College and Dowling College. Despite ranking #1 overall Bloomberg Businessweek, Notre Dame comes it at #18 in starting salaries at $56,900. Ever more disappointing, top undergraduate business programs like Wake Forest, Emory University, and Carnegie Mellon weren’t even included in PayScale’s ranking due to a lack of respondents.
And how about these respectable undergraduate salaries for underdogs: Wentworth Institute of Technology ($56,800), Milwaukee School of Engineering ($56,700), Sacred Heart University of Connecticut ($55,200), and Pace University ($54,700). For the lowest starting salaries, head to southern Georgia and northern Florida with University of Phoenix – Savannah ($31,800), Georgia Southwestern State ($32,600), and Jacksonville State University ($33,600) producing the lowest starting salaries.
PENN TRAILS BERKELEY IN MID-CAREER SALARIES
Alas, it isn’t where you start but where you end up that really matters. While the University of Pennsylvania (again) finished behind Berkeley when it comes to mid-career compensation, graduates can take solace in their $121,700 average salaries ($16,600 per year less than Berkeley). And that shouldn’t be a surprise, as Penn (Wharton) MBAs rank #4 in 20-year compensation according to PayScale. Ranked #1 by U.S. News, Penn is simply an extraordinary program, top-to-bottom, ranking among the top programs in finance, insurance, international business, management, real estate, and marketing.
Over a decade or two, a business degree from Washington University of St. Louis also proves a wise investment. Washington finished second in mid-career earnings at $129,100, ahead of Notre Dame ($122,700), Georgetown University ($121,700), the University of California-Irvine ($121,700), the University of Richmond ($118,000), the University of Southern California ($118,000), and Babson College $117,400).
Looking for a big jump? Start with the University of California-Irvine, where graduate salaries jumped from $48,100 to start $121,000. Graduates from the University of Richmond ($52,400 to $118,100), Hofstra University ($48,300 to $116,500), San Antonio’s St. Mary’s University ($40,200 to $108,100), and LaSalle University ($41,400 to $106,900) made similar leaps.
However, some graduates’ salaries stagnated, to an extent, over time. Take white-hot Clarkson University, for example, where salaries only grew by $30,000 over a 15-20 year period. UCLA grads also languished, with grads earning $92,200 by mid-career ($25,800 a year less than cross-town rival USC). Another number that stood out belonged to Quinnipiac University, where salaries only increased from $54,500 to $72,500.
The lowest mid-career salaries can be found in Washington’s Evergreen State College, where graduates averaged $42,100. Bethel University ($46,900), Faulkner University ($48,800), Tennessee State University ($50,000), and Colorado Technical University’s online program ($50,100) rounded out the bottom five, with graduates only boosting their salaries by $5000-$8000 on average. In fact, Evergreen State grads actually reported lower mid-career than early career salaries.
Want to see how your school ranks? Check out the accompanying pages, which include the top 100 business programs for starting and mid-career salaries.
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