Highest-Paying Business Schools For Undergrads

Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University


Looking for a fast start out of the gate? For early pay, employers pay a premium for business grads from the traditionally higher-ranked undergrad business programs. After Berkeley, you’ll find Penn (Wharton) grads collecting $72,200 to start. They are followed by unheralded Santa Clara University ($70,500), which combines the best of McDonough and Haas: a Jesuit program located right in the outskirts of Silicon Valley. At Notre Dame, where finance and accounting rank among the most popular undergrad majors, business majors pull down $67,700 early on. From there, the highest starting pay is found at east coast programs ­— Virginia ($65,100), Boston College ($64,600), Lehigh ($64,200), New York University ($64,000), Georgetown ($63,300), and Cornell ($63,100) — before UCLA grads clock in at $62,900.

The pay rankings change dramatically by mid-career, however. Santa Clara retains its #3 spot with grads earning $124,000 after 15 years of post-graduation work experience. From there, you’ll find some new blood, with Georgia Tech, Babson College, and SUNY-Albany grads crashing the rankings at $122,000 per year each. That’s higher than Wharton and Notre Dame business grads, who each make $121,000 (as do Loyola University of Maryland grads). Similarly, graduates from Wittenburg University ($120,000), Southern Methodist University ($120,000), University of Puget Sound ($116,000), Westmont College ($113,000), CalPoly-San Luis Obispo ($111,000) actually earned more per year by mid-career than graduates from high-powered programs like Virginia ($110,000), Villanova ($108,000), UCLA ($103,000), and Texas ($102,000).

Why is this? For one, larger schools naturally tend to represent a larger pool of submissions at PayScale. As a result, the numbers for smaller programs are more likely to be distorted with a few big earners.  Even more, these numbers only include graduates with a business-related bachelor’s degree. That means larger schools like Wharton, Notre Dame, and Texas are apt to dilute their survey population in the bachelor’s only category by sending more students to graduate school just in sheer volume (PayScale does not report salaries for business majors who earn an advanced degree).

  • Red Layug

    The rankings on pages 3 to 5 make very little sense. Earnings are heavily influenced by: 1. job sectors, then, 2. location.
    STEM and highly technical or specialized engineering graduates are more likely to be absorbed by companies and organizations that pay more than humanities or social sciences (minus business and economics) are. So, this automatically penalizes those schools having a wide range of undergrad programs such as Berkeley. This is an apple and orange comparison. You cannot pit a school as huge and as diverse as Berkeley against a heavily STEM school like or Caltech, for instance. Or, the huge Berkeley (with so many undergrad programs) against the tiny Princeton or Stanford (not entirely STEM-dominated schools but have a much lesser undergrad programs).

    A more sensible comparison would be to divide this into 2 groups:
    1. Schools with few undergrad major offerings (Dartmouth, Duke, Princeton and the like), and
    2. Schools with many undergrad major offerings (Berkeley, Michigan, Texas, UIUC and the like).
    That’s one.

    But the better way to approach this is to devide this into 4 catogeries (make it 6 if you can), almost similar to your page 2 ranking where you made a specific ranking for business major graduates only. These 4 categories are the 4 main divisions of academic discipline:
    1. STEM
    2. Humanities
    3. Social Science
    4. Languages and the Arts.

    Alternatively, or, better yet, you may further divide it into 6 and include the following:
    5. Preprof/vocational — Hotel Administration, tourism, architecture, sports management, teachers, etc…
    6. Paramedical — nursing, physiotherapy, pharmacy

    Now, let’s see how much better would the Ivies be versus the “public Ivies”, or if there really is a difference between MIT and Berkeley in STEM.

    I used MIT and the Ivies as examples because, they’ve registered impressively on the overall charts. And, Berkeley, because I’ve noticed on their career website how big the disparity is between or among programs. For example, the average salary of the computer science and the EECS fresh graduates of Berkeley is something like 110k, while it’s only around 55k for the humanities grads. And, this reinforces my suspicion that the reason why heavily tech schools like MIT and Caltech… and, small schools like Yale and Princeton… are doing better than Berkeley (although the gap isn’t big) is because Berkeley has plenty more undergrad programs — and thereby, will be sending many more graduates — to organizations and sectors that aren’t as generous as the others.