Want to Be Rich? 25 Colleges With the Highest-Paid Graduates

Getting a college degree can put you on the fast track to success, and a certificate from a good university can open up doors to employment opportunities you didn’t even know about before you received your education. Unfortunately, not all colleges are the same, and an education from one university doesn’t always match up to the other. This can have a significant impact on the job you’ll be able to get after graduation and your earnings.

Recently, PayScale collected data from former students on their salaries after they graduated and later in their careers to show prospective students what they can expect to earn. The following are the 25 schools with the highest potential for its graduates to get a high-paying job once they leave the university based on alumni reports and ranked by average reported mid-career pay.

25. Colgate University

A view of Colgate University across Taylor Lake

A view of Colgate University across Taylor Lake. | Wikimedia Commons

  • Early career pay: $56,500
  • Mid-career pay: $113,000

Colgate University puts out some successful graduates each and every year, and it has been doing so for decades. The university puts an emphasis on small classes and faculty-student interaction, which may contribute to its students’ success. It has 55 areas of study to major in, and the most successful students typically prepare themselves for jobs as operations managers, business development professionals, account managers, executive directors, or financial analysis managers.

24. Rice University

Rice University entry gate

Rice University is located in Houston, Texas. | iStock.com/aimintang

  • Early career pay: $62,300
  • Mid-career pay: $113,000

Down in Houston, Texas, is Rice University, and while the institution offers a wide variety of degrees and areas of study, a number of its students focus their degrees on science, technology, and business and earn some high salaries. Jobs for high earners from Rice University include directors of operations, reliability engineers, software engineers, mechanical engineers, and data scientists.

23. Colorado School of Mines

Students at the Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines is extremely difficult to get into. | Wikimedia Commons/ChrisEngelsma

  • Early career pay: $65,200
  • Mid-career pay: $114,000

The Colorado School of Mines is a public research university focused on engineering and applied science. The university is extremely difficult to get into. However, if you do, you’re on the fast track to becoming a high earner when you complete your studies. Graduates with top-notch salaries typically get jobs as geophysicists, civil engineers, project engineers, mechanical engineers, or software engineers.

22. Georgetown University

The statue of Georgetown University

Some graduates of Georgetown University found high-paying jobs as lawyers and financial analysts. | iStock.com/aimintang

  • Early career pay: $55,400
  • Mid-career pay: $114,000

Georgetown University, based in Washington, D.C., is one of those names you’ve probably heard a time or two before. It’s a well-known and respected university and research institution, offering a wide variety of subjects and experiences to its students. Graduates who prepared themselves for jobs as attorneys and lawyers, financial analysts, management consultants, and research associates seem to report the highest salaries.

21. University of Chicago

A building at the University of Chicago

Studying technology or business at the University of Chicago could make you a top earner in the labor force. | iStock.com/janniswerner

  • Early career pay: $53,000
  • Mid-career pay: $115,000

The University of Chicago offers its robust education services to roughly 6,000 students each year, and many of those students go on to earn respectable incomes in their field of study. The students who earn the most after graduation tend to be those who studied technology or business. Top earners go on and work as software engineers, data scientists, data analysts, management consultants, CFOs, and executive directors.

20. Brown University

A building on campus at Brown University

Brown University is the seventh oldest college in the United States. | iStock.com/peterspiro

  • Early career pay: $58,600
  • Mid-career pay: $116,000

Providence, Rhode Island, is home to a number of interesting historical buildings and institutions, including Brown University. Brown is the seventh oldest college in the United States and offers a wide variety of programs to its students. The most successful students to graduate from Brown pursue subjects that allow them to become software engineers, research scientists, research analysts, and associate directors of nonprofit organizations.

19. Occidental College

Occidental College campus

A degree from Occidental College has great potential. | Oxy.edu

  • Early career pay: $49,200
  • Mid-career pay: $117,000

Occidental College, often called OXY, is an institution in the heart of Los Angeles that offers a variety of areas of study across 40 departments and programs. Top earners from this college choose degrees that prepare them for jobs as data analysts, event managers, attorneys or lawyers, or directors of sales.

18. Clarkson University

Students on campus at Clarkson University

Clarkson University is a place you’ll want to attend. | Clarkson.edu

  • Early career pay: $61,700
  • Mid-career pay: $117,000

Clarkson University has more than 50 majors and minors, many of which put graduates right into jobs. The fields of study that do this are engineering and management, environmental science and policy, the digital arts, and entrepreneurship. Located in Potsdam, New York, the school teaches over 3,000 students and then places them in high-paying jobs around the world.

17. Stevens Institute of Technology

Stevens University in Hoboken, NJ

Stevens Institute is known for its earning potential. | Stevens.edu

  • Early career pay: $65,600
  • Mid-career pay: $117,000

The Stevens Institute of Technology is located in Hoboken, New Jersey. It educates roughly 3,000 students in a variety of technology-focused degree paths including biomedical engineering, chemical engineering, engineering management, biology, chemistry, mathematics, and other related fields. Graduates typically work in their fields and are well-compensated in their jobs.

16. Bates College

An aerial view of Bates College

Bates College is a private, liberal arts school in Lewiston, Maine. | Wikimedia Commons/Josh Kuckens

  • Early career pay: $47,000
  • Mid-career pay: $119,000

Bates College has a rich history of providing quality educational services to people of all races and genders even before it was widely popular. The institution is a private, liberal arts school that breeds successful individuals, especially in the area of business. High-earning graduates work as marketing managers, business development professionals, operations managers, and data analysts, among other things.

15. Duke University

An entrance to Duke University

Duke University is known for more than its successful basketball team. | iStock.com/wellesenterprises

  • Early career pay: $61,300
  • Mid-career pay: $119,000

While you may know Duke University for its successful basketball teams, you’d do better to realize the university turns out some successful graduates as well. The school offers a wide variety of fields of study. However, students that take advantage of the institution’s engineering and health degrees seem to make the most money. Top earners work as software engineers, physicians assistants, mechanical engineers, and data scientists.

14. Dartmouth College

Dartmouth College Green

Degrees in engineering, science, or business from Dartmouth College can set you up for success. | iStock.com/ErikaMitchell

  • Early career pay: $60,800
  • Mid-career pay: $119,000

This private Ivy League university is located in Hanover, New Hampshire. While Dartmouth offers a wide variety of degrees and areas of study, the students who earn the best salaries prepare themselves either with a degree in engineering, science, or business of some sort. Graduates earn high salaries as software engineers, management consultants, business analysts, CFOs, and CEOs.

13. Carnegie Mellon University

Carnegie Mellon University view in Pittsburgh

Carnegie Mellon University offers high-earning potential after graduation. | iStock.com/tupungato

  • Early career pay: $69,400
  • Mid-career pay: $119,000

Named after two of the United States’ most influential and successful businessmen, Carnegie Mellon University is home to some of the more prestigious programs in the country, especially when it comes to engineering, design, and the sciences. Top-earning graduates get jobs as software engineers, mechanical engineers, user experience designers, and software developers, among other things.

12. Santa Clara University

A building on campus at Santa Clara University

Santa Clara University has an urban campus in Santa Clara, California.  | iStock.com/jejim

  • Early career pay: $61,900
  • Mid-career pay: $121,000

Sitting right within Santa Clara, California, is the relatively small, Roman Catholic-affiliated Santa Clara University. The urban campus provides plenty of interaction between students, the city, and the world beyond, which may be one of the reasons it boasts high salaries for its graduates. Top-earning graduates get the degrees necessary to become mechanical engineers, financial analysts, product marketing managers, or product engineers.

11. Babson College

Reynolds Campus Center at Babson College

Reynolds Campus Center at Babson College. | Wikimedia Commons

  • Early career pay: $59,500
  • Mid-career pay: $122,000

Located in Wellesley, Massachusetts, Babson College is a small college with a focus on entrepreneurship and business. This focus has made it one of the most prestigious entrepreneurship education hubs in the United States. It has also led to graduates earning some seriously impressive salaries. Many graduates from Babson go on to jobs as marketing managers, financial analysts, consultants, account managers, and, of course, CEOs.

10. Harvard University

Harvard university

Harvard University is one you probably expected to see on this list. | Jorge Salcedo/Shutterstock

  • Early career pay: $65,200
  • Mid-career pay: $123,000

Harvard University is the Ivy League school you’ve probably heard the most about. Many of its graduates go on to be highly successful businessmen and government officials. While it can be very difficult to get into Harvard, if you do, and you work hard, you’re bound to earn a good salary with your degree. Highly-paid graduates go on to become CEOs, executive directors, software engineers, neurosurgeons, attorneys, and consultants.

9. University of Pennsylvania

University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

Graduates from the University of Pennsylvania have successful careers in a variety of fields.  | iStock.com/f11photo

  • Early career pay: $62,200
  • Mid-career pay: $124,000

Based in Philadelphia, the University of Pennsylvania offers programs that cater to a range of students and interests, and because of this, there’s a wider variety of jobs held by graduates than some of the other schools on this list. Jobs held by successful graduates include marketing manager, senior product manager, business development manager, and financial analyst.

8. United States Air Force Academy

chapel at the United States Air Force Academy

The Air Force Academy offers a range of opportunities. | John Hoffman/Shutterstock

  • Early career pay: $68,800
  • Mid-career pay: $124,000

The United States Air Force Academy provides the necessary education to officer cadets of the U.S. Air Force. The academy teaches skills and knowledge that are advantageous to the students on a variety of levels, including earning them a high salary. Jobs held by graduates include director of operations, aircraft pilot, military pilot, and civil engineer.

7. United States Naval Academy at Annapolis

cadets excercising at the naval academy

The United States Naval Academy freshman class push through tough physical exercise. | Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

  • Early career pay: $72,000
  • Mid-career pay: $125,000

The United States Naval Academy teaches midshipman what they need to know to succeed, and the knowledge and skills learned there also earn the graduates a pretty penny. They have some of the highest salaries out there. Jobs held by graduates of the academy include operations manager, U.S. naval officer, COO, and director of operations.

6. United States Military Academy at West Point

west point cadets from the military academy

West Point cadets are sure to make a healthy living. | Drew Angerer/Getty Images

  • Early career pay: $76,000
  • Mid-career pay: $126,000

Snuggled into the confines of West Point, New York, is the United States Military Academy, which has long prided itself on producing leaders and excellent individuals. As a result of those efforts, not only has USMA at West Point produced some seriously impressive alumni, but it has also produced some of the best paid. Top jobs for graduates include operations managers, director of operations, and CEOs.

5. Stanford University

Stanford University Hoover Tower

Stanford University is one of the largest campuses in the United States. | iStock.com/jejim

  • Early career pay: $70,800
  • Mid-career pay: $127,000

Located in Stanford, California, is one of the largest campuses in the United States, the campus of Stanford University. The campus isn’t the only big thing about this school. Apparently, the salaries that its graduates pull in are pretty impressive as well. Because the university is so large, it offers a wide variety of programs and fields of study. The highest paid graduates are educated in the sciences and have jobs as software engineers, mechanical engineers, CEOs, and data scientists.

4. Princeton University

Princeton University

Princeton University shouldn’t surprise you with its successful graduates. | Flickr/James Loesch

  • Early career pay: $65,700
  • Mid-career pay: $131,000

Boasting impressively high salaries from its alumni is Princeton University. The Princeton, New Jersey, institution has a long history of being an impressive university, and its academic programs are held in high regard among many companies and recruiters across the country. Still, like many of the schools on this list, science and engineering degrees seem to yield the best results when it comes to salaries.

3. Harvey Mudd College

A view of the campus at Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College focuses primarily on science degrees. | Wikimedia Commons

  • Early career pay: $78,500
  • Mid-career pay: $131,000

Harvey Mudd College is an institution in Claremont, California, that has a small number of undergraduate students and focuses on science degrees. Many of its graduates go on to become engineers of some kind, and several of the school’s former students now hold jobs as software engineers, mechanical engineers, and software developers. While those are the highest paying fields, the school does offer degrees in the liberal arts and sciences, and many students do get those degrees as well.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Massachusetts Institute of Technology in Boston.

It’s probably not surprising to find Massachusetts Institute of Technology on this list. | iStock.com/rabbit75_ist

  • Early career pay: $78,300
  • Mid-career pay: $134,000

Most people have heard of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, and it’s probably of no surprise that it’s on this list. MIT is known for turning out some of the most well-educated engineers out there, and these people go on to make quite a lot of money. A degree from MIT will likely serve you well out in the competitive job market. Top jobs held by graduates include software engineer, mechanical engineer, aerospace engineer, and data scientist.

1. State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College

A view of SUNY Maritime College from the water.

Programs at SUNY Maritime College typically focus on engineering. | Wikimedia Commons/Julie McCoy

  • Early career pay: $69,700
  • Mid-career pay: $144,000

The small SUNY Maritime College is a prestigious university based in Throggs Neck, New York. Its programs focus on different types of engineering, which is one of the reasons its graduates tend to earn a very high salary after graduating. Many of its programs have a marine focus and many of its students pursue a degree and a special professional license as a United States Merchant Marine officer.

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