One of the most important things to today’s college freshmen is that the college they choose will help them get a good job — but the most important thing is that the college experience will leave them financially well off in the long run.
That trend seems to be increasingly over time, as a 2015 UCLA study shows that 60 percent of incoming freshmen indicated it as “very important” that a college’s alumni get good jobs after graduation, up from 2013’s 53 percent.
But 82 percent of freshmen indicated that being “very well off financially” is essential or very important to their college choice.
We at Zippia have put together a list of the top schools by state in terms of what graduates typically earn — but our study is slightly different, in that we look at recent graduates as well as alumni well into their careers.
Below is a list of the top fifty, but first, here’s the best of the best:
Using information found on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database, we searched for the college in each state with the highest incomes for graduated students.
We looked at median earnings six and ten year after they graduated, because promises of fat paychecks down the road don’t mean as much when you’re drowning in student loan debt two years out.
So, we averaged median incomes six- and ten-years out and ranked each state’s top school. Some of the list isn’t too surprising — Harvard leads the pack not just in Massachusetts, but first overall — but there are a few notables that make our list, demanding some more attention from prospective college students.
And as a reminder, each college on our list has to take the top place in its state to make the rankings. For example, MIT was actually second in the country, but since it’s also second in MA it doesn’t make the map.
Now, onto the list.
Average Earnings: $118,400
Not only does Harvard bump MIT off of the list entirely as the location for the highest-paid graduates in Massachusetts, Harvard also takes its place as the location most people think Good Will Hunting was located.
Average Earnings: $112,850
Only beaten by #1 Harvard for having the most millionaire alumni, its campus — The Farm — is one of the largest in the world and also sports the largest annual outbreak of mononucleosis in the world: Full Moon on the Quad
College: University of Pennsylvania
Average Earnings: $102,850
Also known as “the only Ivy League that doesn’t sound like an Ivy League” by many — or at least myself — Penn is not to be confused with Penn State.
Because it is not Penn State.
College: Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences
Average Earnings: $101,150
This school is a bit of a standout on our list, since it’s got a limited selection of majors that are almost entirely pre-health profession — but there you have it. This high value-added school is clearly successful at producing successful people, and offers a complete 6-year pharmacy program.
Average Earnings: $97,600
It’s not the most cost-effective way to get them, but if you’re a basketball fan it’s almost worth attending for the free tickets. If you’re a student and willing to camp out in the vile hovels that comprise K-ville, you’ll have a chance of saving yourself the $2,000 that UNC-Duke basketball tickets can run in the secondary market each year.
Average Earnings: $92,300
If you have a friend who goes to Princeton, you don’t need to worry about them not talking to you anymore, because they’ll thoroughly enjoy talking down to you. With a Princeton education one can afford to be magnanimous.
City: New Haven
Average Earnings: $85,850
People say that the students who go to Princeton and Harvard don’t have much in common, but that’s not true: they all got acceptance Yale, too.
Average Earnings: $85,100
It’s the drunk uncle of the Ivy League: it’s mascot is Keggy the Keg, Animal House was written by an alum’s experiences at Dartmouth, and the school color was picked because no one else was using forest green at the time.
College: University of Chicago
Average Earnings: $82,800
It employs a House system, so instead of being placed into a dorm you’re guaranteed a place in your House for a full four years.
Unfortunately, the selection process
does doesn’t employ a sentient sorting hat.
College: Maine Maritime Academy
Average Earnings: $79,550
One of the service academies, it doesn’t require a military or maritime service period afterwards and or a congressional recommendation — though knowledge of how to swim is recommended. It’s primarily an engineering and marine sciences school, with underwater basket weaving being a presumably popular minor.
No college can guarantee you a job — much less being “very well off financially” — but many still stake reputations on their alumni’s career success and employment rates.
Because of the importance of these numbers to prospective students, it can often be tough to tell who to trust with these numbers. While some institutions go to great length to ensure their numbers are as accurate as possible, not all are as diligent — or (let’s just say it) as honest.
As this Hechinger Report article by Jon Marcus details, many universities are either misleading or outright lying about their placement rates, and there’s not always a ton of oversight when it comes to ensuring the rates they report to prospective students reflect the reality.
Independently-obtained pay information and career info from resumes serves as a system of checks and balances for the universities themselves. And of course, we’re always here to steer you in the right direction — watch doggy-style — as well as the IES, or the Institute of Education Sciences, a bipartisan government organization dedicated to finding scientific data related to education.
They try to keep this information as impartial as possible so that it can be used across the aisle as a solid base on which to build effective educational policies, and they keep this information in the IPEDS database mentioned at the beginning of the article.
|Harvard University||Cambridge, MA||118,400|
|Stanford University||Stanford, CA||112,850|
|University of Pennsylvania||Philadelphia, PA||102,850|
|Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences||Albany, NY||101,150|
|Duke University||Durham, NC||97,600|
|Princeton University||Princeton, NJ||92,300|
|Yale University||New Haven, CT||85,850|
|Dartmouth College||Hanover, NH||85,100|
|University of Chicago||Chicago, IL||82,800|
|Maine Maritime Academy||Castine, ME||79,550|
|University of Notre Dame||South Bend, IN||78,300|
|Washington and Lee University||Lexington, VA||75,950|
|Colorado School of Mines||Golden, CO||74,250|
|Johns Hopkins University||Baltimore, MD||74,000|
|Case Western Reserve University||Cleveland, OH||71,600|
|Rice University||Houston, TX||70,700|
|Washington University in St Louis||Saint Louis, MO||70,200|
|Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus||Atlanta, GA||69,250|
|Kettering University||Flint, MI||68,250|
|Brown University||Providence, RI||67,900|
|Vanderbilt University||Nashville, TN||67,800|
|Middlebury College||Middlebury, VT||65,850|
|Tulane University of Louisiana||New Orleans, LA||60,150|
|Drake University||Des Moines, IA||58,600|
|Milwaukee School of Engineering||Milwaukee, WI||58,500|
|Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott||Prescott, AZ||57,800|
|Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach||Daytona Beach, FL||57,800|
|Creighton University||Omaha, NE||57,800|
|University of Washington-Seattle Campus||Seattle, WA||54,700|
|Saint Johns University||Collegeville, MN||54,400|
|Brigham Young University-Provo||Provo, UT||54,400|
|South Dakota School of Mines and Technology||Rapid City, SD||52,900|
|University of Portland||Portland, OR||51,700|
|University of Delaware||Newark, DE||51,550|
|University of Oklahoma-Norman Campus||Norman, OK||51,550|
|New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology||Socorro, NM||50,150|
|Thomas More College||Crestview Hills, KY||49,650|
|Samford University||Birmingham, AL||49,450|
|John Brown University||Siloam Springs, AR||49,450|
|Baker University||Baldwin City, KS||49,250|
|University of North Dakota||Grand Forks, ND||49,100|
|Clemson University||Clemson, SC||48,950|
|University of Mississippi||Oxford, MS||47,150|
|Hawaii Pacific University||Honolulu, HI||47,000|
|Montana Tech of the University of Montana||Butte, MT||46,800|
|University of Nevada-Reno||Reno, NV||46,000|
|University of Wyoming||Laramie, WY||45,500|
|Alaska Pacific University||Anchorage, AK||44,600|
|West Virginia University Institute of Technology||Montgomery, WV||43,750|
|University of Idaho||Moscow, ID||39,750|