It’s fun to meet new people and socialize, but ultimately, the goal of going to college is set yourself up for good jobs in the future. We know the best and worst cities for college opportunities, but which colleges will prepare you to earn more than $60,000 long after you leave the classroom? Well, now we know. Zippia crunched the numbers and found these 16 states have small colleges where graduates earn an average of $60,000 10 years after getting a degree.
We’re limiting our list to one college per state, so higher education hotbeds such as California, Massachusetts, and Pennsylvania make the list once each. And if you think you know which Massachusetts college makes our list, you’ll be surprised when you get to No. 5 on the list.
16. New Hampshire — Saint Anselm College
Average salary: $60,100
Saint Anselm accepted less than 3,000 students for the class of 2021, so it falls into the small colleges category. It also produces successful graduates. The school boasts that 99% of its 2016 grads found work within six months. Ten years later, the average grad makes $60,100 a year.
Next: Heading to the heartland
15. Illinois — Illinois Wesleyan University
Average salary: $60,500
You won’t find many small colleges smaller than Illinois Wesleyan. With less than 1,800 undergraduates and more than 80 majors, students work closely with faculty in all fields. The college has several famous graduates, so you’ll be in good company when you get your degree.
Next: A big school producing big earners.
14. Delaware — University of Delaware
Average salary: $61,300
More than 23,000 students attend the University of Delaware, so it’s not necessarily small. But the state has only eight colleges, so it’s slim pickings when it comes to higher education. Still, 10 years after leaving, graduates earn an average of more than $63,000.
Next: A small school with graduates you know.
13. Virginia — Virginia Military Institute
Average salary: $62,100
You have to spend more than $50,000 a year to attend VMI if you don’t live in Virginia. That’s a lot of money, but graduates earn that money back 10 years later. If you graduate, you’ll be in good company. Mel Brooks, Danny Coleman, and Fred Willard are former students, as are World War Two heroes Gen. George Patton and George C. Marshall.
Next: A small school tops its larger state brethren.
12. Indiana — Wabash College
Average salary: $62,800
Sure, Notre Dame and Indiana might churn out more Fortune 500 CEOs, but Wabash College is one of the small colleges setting up graduates for success. Roughly 900 students attend Wabash, and 10 years after graduating they earn an average of nearly $63,000 per year.
Next: A famous former student doesn’t contribute to the average salary figure.
11. North Carolina — Davidson College
Average salary: $63,500
NBA star Stephen Curry helped write Davidson basketball’s Cinderella story in 2008, but he doesn’t contribute to the salary figure above. Even though he’s one of the highest-paid NBA players, he doesn’t have his degree yet. Regardless, it’s one of the small colleges setting up students for success. The roughly 1,800 students earn an average of $63,500 a decade after graduating.
Next: Show me a healthy paycheck.
10. Missouri — Saint Luke’s College of Health Sciences
Average salary: $64,700
Saint Luke’s sits just south of downtown Kansas City, and even though it’s small, graduates make an average of $64,700 10 years later. That average salary is the best in the Show Me state, and it’s proof that small colleges can hang with the big boys.
Next: Here’s what you need to know.
9. Minnesota — Carleton College
Average salary: $65,600
If you’ve never heard of Carleton College, we don’t blame you. After all, it’s a small school (roughly 2,100 students) about 45 miles south of Minneapolis, but here’s what you need to know. What it lacks in name recognition it makes up for with high academic standards and graduates who earn more than $65,000 a year a decade after graduating.
Next: These numbers add up.
8. Maine — Bates College
Average salary: $75,700
Aside from graduates having average salaries of $75,700 10 years later, there are some other numbers that add up to Bates being one of the best small colleges.
- Every tenured faculty member holds an advanced degree.
- Less than 2,000 students lead to a 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio.
- Despite its size, it offers 37 majors and 25 minors.
Put it all together, and Bates produces some of the highest-paid graduates of any school in the country.
Next: An affordable college in an expensive city.
7. New York — Helene Fuld College of Nursing
Average salary: $79,300
Between Columbia, Fordham, and New York University, New York is one of the American cities with the most expensive colleges. Tuition is less than $19,000 at the Helene Fund College of Nursing, and 10 years later, graduates make an average of $79,300 per year.
Next: A small school in a big state outdoes the competition.
6. Pennsylvania — Lafayette College
Average salary: $81,000
Move over, Carnegie Mellon. Pause for a second, Penn. Hold off on the victory lap, Villanova. Lafayette is the Pennsylvania school pumping out high-earning graduates. It’s No. 36 on U.S. News & World Report’s liberal arts rankings, so it’s one of the best small colleges in the country. Ten years after getting their degrees, grads have average salaries north of $80,000.
Next: This is a surprise.
5. Massachusetts — Amherst College
Average salary: $82,000
If you were expecting Boston University, Harvard, or MIT to represent Massachusetts, then it’s probably a surprise seeing Amherst on our countdown. It’s the No. 2 liberal arts college in the U.S., and it’s also one of the most expensive schools in the country. You get what you pay for in this case, as graduates make an average of $82,000 a year a decade later.
Next: An affordable school for aspiring medical professionals.
4. Texas — University of Texas MD Anderson Cancer Center
Average salary: $82,100
With its smattering of undergraduate, graduate, and Ph.D. programs, MD Anderson is the place to be for aspiring medical professionals. Ten years after leaving, graduates make more than $82,000 per year, which is a great return on investment. Most of its undergraduate programs cost less than $9,000 per semester in tuition and fees.
Next: One of the best small colleges that’s under the radar.
3. California — Harvey Mudd College
Average salary: $84,900
With less than 1,000 undergraduates, Harvey Mudd gets lost in the shuffle with larger Los Angeles-area schools, such as Cal Tech, UCLA, USC, Pepperdine. Yet, it’s one best small colleges in the country (No. 12 per U.S. News & World Report), and its former students make a fortune. It produces some of the highest-paid graduates of any school in the country.
Next: An Ivy League school finally shows up.
2. Rhode Island — Brown University
Average salary: $87,600
We already know Harvard in Massachusetts and the University of Pennsylvania don’t make the cut. You won’t find fellow Ivy League institutions Princeton and Yale on the list, either. If you graduate, you’ll make an average of $87,600 a decade later, and you’ll also get bragging rights over Ted Turner. The famous billionaire attended Brown, but he never bothered to stick around to get his degree.
Next: Far and away No. 1 on the list.
1. Maryland — University of Maryland Baltimore County
Average salary: $102,900
Like Delaware, a school we discussed earlier, UMBC pushes the limits of the term “small colleges.” But even with nearly 12,000 students, it’s smaller than the main UM campus, Towson, and Johns Hopkins. UMBC’s graduates are some of the highest earners of any school in the country, with an average six-figure salary 10 years after leaving campus.
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