What Colleges Earn Their Graduates the Most Money?

What colleges earn their graduates the most money?

We’ve all heard the numbers — people with college degrees earn a ton more money than those who do not graduate from college. Also, the more degrees you earn the more money you’re worth. However, some schools seem to graduate students with higher salaries. It could be because employers are looking for specific names on resumes, or it could be that one college prepares students for the real world more than another. Whatever the reason, we now know what schools graduates earn the most money.

PayScale, a financial analysis website, spent the last couple of years collecting info from college grads about their jobs, their starting salaries, and the average mid-career salaries and put together a couple of charts ranking the ten highest median graduate salaries and ten highest initial salaries by school.

If you were expecting Harvard or Yale to top the list, you’ll be disappointed. Not even the powerhouse Massachusetts Institute of Technology took top honors. No, that spot belongs to Dartmouth College. Gradutes of Dartmouth programs report the highest median mid-career salary — an average of $129,000. As for the school whose graduates earn the average highest starting salary, that honor goes to little known Loma Linda University, a private school where graduates first year of salaray averages over $71,000.

There are a few weaknesses in the study that need to be discussed. because PayScale asked people to report their own salary information, without any kind of verification, the study may end up being about which campus graduates more people willing to lie about their salary. The study’s pool of respondents is not at all randomized — in fact, the pool is self selected and the statistics are reported by the study participants online and voluntarily. PayScale also went in a weird direction in terms of the limit of degrees earned — the study only counts the salaries of individuals with just a bachelor’s degree — lawyers, doctors, and other professionals who require post Graduate degrees are completely left out.

PayScale claims they did the study this way to show the high return one could earn from a single investment — whereas earning a Master’s or PhD requires hefty additional expense and investment of time.

Alright, so what we’re looking at here is a study of the potential return on an investment for a Bachelor’s degree. Here are the top ten colleges in both categories — highest median mid-career salary (first table) and median starting salary (second table):

1. Dartmouth College – $129,000

2. MIT – $126,000

3. Harvard University – $126,000

4. Harvey Mudd College – $125,000

5. Stanford University – $124,000

6. Princeton University – $124,000

7. Colgate University – $122,000

8. University of Notre Dame – $121,000

9. Yale University – $120,000

10. University of Pennsylvania – $118,000


1. Loma Linda University – $71,400

2. MIT – $71,100

3. Harvey Mudd College – $71,000

4. CIT (California Institute of Technology) – $69,700

5. Stanford – $67,500

6. Carnegie-Mellon University – $65,300

7. Princeton University – $65,000

8. Polytechnic University of New York, Brooklyn – $62,700

9. Renssalear Polytechnic Institute – $62,500

10. Rose Hulman Institute of Technology – $61,100

The lesson here is — tell your kids to be engineers. Engineers make tons of money, as reflected by the massive amounts of engineering schools represented inthe above tables. Especially promising for engineering students is the second table. Besides Loma Linda (which is a Seventh-day Adventist medical school in southern California), there are basically only engineering schools on the list of top starting salaries of graduates, with maybe three Ivy League schools thrown in. If you want to make good money right out of college, study Engineering.

Before you get obsessed over your next school choice, and before you die your fifth grader’s hair Stanford red, you might want to consider that this study is not exactly a one stop shop for how a school choice can impact sucess in life. The important thing is that you or your child attend college somewhere — not necessarily at one of these “top ten” schools. A college degree is what will earn a person more money over time, not necessarily a college degree from MIT or Carnegie-Mellon. There are many factors to take into account when choosing a college, and the results of this study shouldn’t be one of them.