The Best Colleges For Salary Potential


Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College

When you think of California schools, you probably picture UCLA, Berkeley, or USC. If you’re only looking to earn a Bachelor’s degree, the top school – in terms of income – was the Harvey Mudd College of Claremont, California. A school where 86% of students earned STEM (Science-Technology-Engineering-Math) degrees, Harvey Mudd graduates landed early career salaries of $75,600 (with  PayScale defining “early career” as employees who hold five years or less experience in their career or field). In addition, mid-career employees (who are, on average, 44 years old and carry 15 years of experience) earned $133,800 per year.

Ranking below Harvey Mudd College is the United States Naval Academy of Annapolis, Maryland. Their civilian grads actually make the highest early career salaries of $80,700 and the second-highest mid-career incomes of $130,000. The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Colgate University, and Stanford University rounded out the top five.

Colgate, in particular, stuck out with students starting out at $54,000 (#79) but eventually rising to $126,600 by mid-career (#4).  Graduates from Washington & Lee University ($50,700 to $124,300), Tufts University ($51,900 to $123,600), Carleton College ($43,700 to $117,700), and Haverford College ($38,600 to $115,000) experienced similar jumps. In contrast, some fast-starting graduates who sputtered into their mid-careers include: the Oregon Health and Science University ($66,800 to $79,500), Loma Linda University ($65,100 to $76,800), and Thomas Jefferson University ($65,000 to $81,600).

In addition, grads from renowned private schools generated relatively modest salaries starting out. For example, Northwestern University grads, on average, earned $54,200. Other private schools falling into this category include: Brown University ($55,100), Notre Dame ($55,200), Dartmouth ($55,500), Vanderbilt ($56,300), Harvard ($57,700), and Cornell ($58,200).

Loma Linda University Medical Center

Loma Linda University Medical Center

Money is only part of the equation. If you’re hoping to make a difference, you may want to look at California’s Loma Linda University, a health sciences institution affiliated with the Seventh-Day Adventist Church. Here, 91% of Bachelor’s degree holders answered “Yes” to “Does your work make the world a better place? In fact, health care institutions top this list, with 88% of graduates from the Medical College of Georgia and the University of Texas-Medical Branch also answering “Yes” to this question.

Want to see how your school ranks? Check out the accompanying pages, which include the top 50 schools for Bachelor’s degree holders and all alumni.


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