The Best College In Each State For Getting A Job

By Ryan Morris
Mar. 28, 2017

Find a Job You Really Want In


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One of the most important things to college freshmen, if not the most important, is that the college they have chosen to attend will ultimately help them find a job.

In a 2015 study by The Higher Education Research Institute at UCLA, 60.1% of incoming freshmen indicated it as “very important” that their college’s alumni get good jobs after graduation, up from 2013’s 53.1%. While this percentage has never been exactly low, it has slowly risen since the mid-1980s, showing that more and more the idea of finding a job after graduating from college is becoming less of a given.

Not all schools are equal in this, and some colleges are vastly more supportive of their students’ post-graduation concerns than others. To help showcase some of these stand-out universities, in addition to the map at the top of this article, we at Zippia have put together a list of the top schools by state in terms of college placement ratings.

Both the map and list were created using information found on the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS) database or the CollegeScoreCard data.

Below is a list of the top fifty, but first, here’s the best of the best:

  1. Virginia Military Institute — Virginia
  2. Saint John’s University — Minnesota
  3. Assumption College — Massachusetts
  4. Hastings College — Nebraska
  5. Wartburg College — Iowa
  6. Saint Michael’s College — Vermont
  7. Rhodes College — Tennessee
  8. University of Mary — North Dakota
  9. Susquehanna University — Pennsylvania
  10. llinois Wesleyan University — Illinois

Using IPEDS, we searched for the college in each state with the highest listed job placement ratings, looking specifically at employment levels at year 10 after students have graduated.

Then, we looked at the ratings themselves and ranked each state’s top school according to their rating. For the purposes of readability, each school’s rating was then rounded down to the last three decimal places, and we included the city each state’s top college was located in.

If you’re looking for a job out of college, you can browse jobs by your college major or learn about what it takes to get a job.

Ok, that’s it! Now, onto the list.

1. Virginia

  • College: Virginia Military Institute
  • City: Lexington
  • Placement Rate: 96.594%
  • VMI’s rigorous academics and high standards certainly have something to do with employers’ likelihood of hiring graduates from here, but I’m sure all the cannons and military training don’t hurt either.

2. Minnesota

  • College: Saint John’s University
  • City: Collegeville
  • Placement Rate: 96.402%
  • “Hey Steve, what name were we thinking for this town over here? Yeah, the one with the college in it. Does ‘Schooltown’ work? No? How about ‘The Education Location’? Too long, huh. Hang on, I just thought of a pretty good one.” — Frank Minnesota, state founder, moments prior to naming the town of Collegeville, MN.

3. Massachusetts

  • College: Assumption College
  • City: Worcester
  • Placement Rate: 96.205%
  • A Roman Catholic school in Massachusetts. Alumni include Carolina Panthers player Scott Simonson as well as Andy Hallet, an actor known for playing the karaoke demon Lorne on the TV series Angel.

4. Nebraska

  • College: Hastings College
  • City: Hastings
  • Placement Rate: 96.065%
  • Hastings is a self-proclaimed “best buy” school, based on the fact that they’ve been named by Barron’s and Washington Post as being among the most affordable colleges in America. Not to be confused with the retail store “Best Buy,” which unlike Hastings is in no way an affordable place to spend your time.

5. Iowa

  • College: Wartburg College
  • City: Waverly
  • Placement Rate: 95.995%
  • The only private college in Iowa to offer a music therapy major, Wartburg is very proud of its strong German heritage. Their mission statement reads “Wartburg College is dedicated to challenging and nurturing students for lives of leadership and service as a spirited expression of their faith and learning.”

6. Vermont

  • College: Saint Michael’s College
  • City: Colchester
  • Placement Rate: 95.766%
  • Located just outside of Burlington, VT, a city which has no business looking as gorgeous as a cursory Google Image Search makes it out to be. It is very close to Canada, however, which may or may not be a selling point for you depending on your feelings vis-à-vis America’s Hat.

7. Tennessee

  • College: Rhodes College
  • City: Memphis
  • Placement Rate: 95.765%
  • Rhodes College is especially well-known for its mock trial program, which is one of the most prestigious in the country. The fact that there’s no joke in this caption versus the others on this list is in no way related to how many Rhodes College grads go on to become lawyers.

8. North Dakota

  • College: University of Mary
  • City: Bismarck
  • Placement Rate: 95.669%
  • The only private Catholic school in North Dakota, as well as the only College of Distinction in the state. The school sports teams are referred to as the Mary Marauders, which sounds to me like a roving band of vikings who are all named Mary.

9. Pennsylvania

  • College: Susquehanna University
  • City: Selinsgrove
  • Placement Rate: 95.455%
  • Susquehanna was rated 54th best liberal arts college by Washington Monthly, and 1st most likely college to be slightly mispronounced by me the first time I have to say it out loud.

10. Illinois

  • College: Illinois Wesleyan University
  • City: Bloomington
  • Placement Rate: 95.367%
  • The most important thing to know about this school is that someone named Charles “Buffalo” Jones A) existed in the real world, and B) attended this school for two years during the 1860s. He was an accomplished conservationist and went on to found the city of Garden City, but again, the important thing is that his name was Buffalo Freaking Jones.

Job Placement Ratings: A Quick Rundown

No college can guarantee you a job, but regardless, many still stake entire reputations on their alumni’s employment rates.

Because of the importance of applications and placement rates to incoming freshmen getting into school, 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.

Simply put, some schools are fudging their numbers. And certain organizations who used to audit this information, like the Graduate Management Admissions Council, are now taking job placement information directly from the schools themselves, breaking down some of the transparency that once existed in the system.

Fortunately, there are still plenty of groups around who remain the impartial watchdogs they were intended to be (for now, at any rate).

One of these is 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.

State Institute Name City Median Earnings After 10 Years Median Earnings After 6 Years Percentage Of Grads Employed After 10 Years Rank
Alabama Birmingham Southern College Birmingham 45,300 30,200 92.17% 35
Alaska University Of Alaska Fairbanks Fairbanks 43,300 35,000 83.14% 50
Arizona Universal Technical Institute Of Arizona Inc Avondale 45,500 35,700 89.39% 44
Arkansas Hendrix College Conway 44,500 29,000 90.88% 40
California Santa Clara University Santa Clara 81,000 51,900 92.24% 34
Colorado Colorado School Of Mines Golden 82,300 66,200 93.08% 29
Connecticut Fairfield University Fairfield 76,700 54,800 94.99% 12
Delaware University Of Delaware Newark 59,000 44,100 93.97% 23
Florida Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona Beach Daytona Beach 65,500 50,100 92.51% 31
Georgia Spelman College Atlanta 49,900 34,800 93.67% 27
Hawaii University Of Hawaii At Manoa Honolulu 51,000 37,600 87.13% 47
Idaho University Of Idaho Moscow 45,600 33,900 88.39% 45
Illinois Illinois Wesleyan University Bloomington 62,100 43,100 95.37% 10
Indiana Rose-Hulman Institute Of Technology Terre Haute 78,200 64,800 94.5% 16
Iowa Wartburg College Waverly 47,100 36,600 95.99% 5
Kansas Kansas State University Manhattan 48,600 37,800 91.49% 39
Kentucky Transylvania University Lexington 45,000 29,300 94.17% 20
Louisiana Xavier University Of Louisiana New Orleans 58,900 44,700 92.01% 36
Maine Bates College Lewiston 62,000 42,500 93.75% 26
Maryland Goucher College Baltimore 49,400 31,000 93.8% 24
Massachusetts Assumption College Worcester 55,800 40,700 96.21% 3
Michigan Kettering University Flint 73,900 62,600 95.25% 11
Minnesota Saint John’s University Collegeville 66,200 42,600 96.4% 2
Mississippi University Of Mississippi University 52,700 41,600 90.77% 41
Missouri Northwest Missouri State University Maryville 43,400 31,500 92.9% 30
Montana Carroll College Helena 46,700 36,700 91.7% 38
Nebraska Hastings College Hastings 44,500 34,400 96.06% 4
Nevada University Of Nevada-Las Vegas Las Vegas 48,400 36,600 87.1% 48
New Hampshire Keene State College Keene 42,300 32,500 94.37% 18
New Jersey The College Of New Jersey Ewing 61,000 44,600 93.51% 28
New Mexico University Of Phoenix-Albuquerque Campus Albuquerque 60,500 44,300 87.33% 46
New York Clarkson University Potsdam 69,500 54,000 94.46% 17
North Carolina Wake Forest University Winston Salem 78,800 52,300 93.78% 25
North Dakota University Of Mary Bismarck 50,100 42,100 95.67% 8
Ohio University Of Dayton Dayton 58,500 43,100 94.86% 13
Oklahoma Oklahoma City University Oklahoma City 45,100 40,400 90.53% 42
Oregon Linfield College-Mcminnville Campus Mcminnville 54,200 46,000 92.33% 32
Pennsylvania Susquehanna University Selinsgrove 55,000 39,500 95.45% 9
Rhode Island Bryant University Smithfield 67,300 51,000 94.2% 19
South Carolina Citadel Military College Of South Carolina Charleston 55,100 40,500 94.06% 22
South Dakota Dakota State University Madison 41,900 32,700 94.14% 21
Tennessee Rhodes College Memphis 65,000 40,800 95.77% 7
Texas Southwestern University Georgetown 54,000 37,500 94.57% 15
Utah Westminster College Salt Lake City 51,500 42,600 85.54% 49
Vermont Saint Michael’s College Colchester 51,400 38,300 95.77% 6
Virginia Virginia Military Institute Lexington 60,000 42,000 96.59% 1
Washington University Of Puget Sound Tacoma 55,100 37,400 92.33% 33
West Virginia Wheeling Jesuit University Wheeling 48,000 37,800 91.93% 37
Wisconsin University Of Wisconsin-Platteville Platteville 48,300 38,500 94.7% 14
Wyoming Wyotech-Laramie Laramie 44,700 38,300 90.25% 43

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Ryan Morris

Ryan Morris was a writer for the Zippia Advice blog who tried to make the job process a little more entertaining for all those involved. He obtained his BA and Masters from Appalachian State University.

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