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College Salary Report Home

PayScale 2008 Education Data Package: Methodology Overview

Data Set Characteristics

All data used to produce the Education Package were collected from employees who successfully completed PayScale's employee survey.

Bachelors Only: Only employees who possess a Bachelor's degree and no higher degree are included. Those Bachelors graduates who continue their education and earn a Master's degree, MBA, MD, JD, PhD, or other advanced degree are not included.

For some liberal arts, Ivy League, and highly selective schools, graduates with higher degrees can represent a significant fraction of all graduates.

Careers that require advanced degrees, such as in law or medicine, are not included.

US Only: All reports are for graduates of schools in the United States and who are working in the United States.

Full-time Employees Only:
Only graduates who are employed full-time, and who are paid either an hourly wage or an annual salary are included.

Self-employed, project-based, and contract employees are not included. For example, project-based graphic designers and architects, and nearly all small business owners and novelists, are not included.

Definitions

Salary: Annual cash compensation, including base salary or hourly wages, combined with commissions, bonuses, profit sharing and other forms of cash earnings.

Overtime earnings are included, if applicable. Salary does not include equity (stock) compensation, which can be a significant portion of pay for some executive and high-tech jobs.

Starting Employees: Full-time employees with 5.5 years of experience or less in their career or field who are Bachelors graduates.

For the graduates in this data set, the typical (median) starting employee is 26 years old and has 3 years of experience.

Mid-Career Employees: Full-time employees with 10 or more years of experience in their career or field who are Bachelors graduates.

For the graduates in this data set, the typical (median) mid-career employee is 42 years old and has 15.5 years of experience.

Salary Potential

Top Colleges - Salary Potential by School Type and Top Salary Potential by School Location

We provided the median salary for graduates of most large enrollment universities in the United States, along with many smaller private, highly-selective, and engineering schools.

Selection Criteria for Schools: Foreign, military, and business schools were excluded, as well as those with insufficient data.

Generally, schools with annual graduating classes of at least 1,000 students were included in our package, as well as many smaller colleges. Technical issues caused some larger schools not to be included on any list.

Starting Median Salary: 50% of Starting Employees from a school will earn more than this in salary, and 50% will earn less.

Mid-Career Median Salary: 50% of Mid-Career Employees from a school will earn more than this in salary, and 50% will earn less.

90% confidence interval on median: For all schools, the confidence interval is +/- 5%, with the following exceptions:

  • Due to the large variation in pay of graduates, the 90% confidence interval for elite schools (Ivy League, MIT, Stanford, Caltech, etc) is +/- 10%.
  • Due to smaller data sets, the 90% confidence interval for small liberal arts schools is +/- 10%.

Degrees That Pay You Back

We provided the median total cash compensation for 50 popular Bachelor's degree majors.

All colleges and universities across the nation were included. The medians tend to represent characteristics of large state university graduates, since these schools have the largest attendance.

All jobs are included, not just those specific to the major. Though graduates with some majors, like Computer Science or Chemical Engineering, do typically pursue a job in the same subject, many others will often pursue careers in an unrelated area. For example, psychology majors, often choose a job in a general business field.

Starting Median Salary:
50% of Starting Employees with the given major will earn more than this in salary, and 50% will earn less.

Mid-Career Median Salary: 50% of Mid-Career Employees with the given major will earn more than this in salary, and 50% will earn less.

90% confidence interval on median:
For all majors, the 90% confidence interval is +/- 5%.

Most Popular Jobs

Jobs in each list are ordered by relative popularity, and represent a minimum of 0.5% (1/2 percent) of respondents for a major or school.

Due to the great diversity of jobs people do, even for the most popular jobs, it is not uncommon for the job to represent less than one percent of the total respondents for a major or school.

Some jobs are less likely to be represented on our lists, due to a greater amount of specialization in the field. The inverse is also true ? for example, software engineers who work in a wide range of settings and whose responsibilities can vary dramatically all identify with the same job title, and hence are more likely to appear on the list.

Employees with all years of experience were included, as long as they worked in the United States as a full-time employee, held a Bachelor's degree and no higher, and graduated either with the given major or from the given school. As a result, each list contains not only jobs held by experienced practitioners in the field, but also by those who have recently graduated.

Jobs which require an advanced degree are not present. However, those which generally are held by those with advanced degrees will sometimes appear. For example, although many Investment Bankers and CTOs typically possess an MBA, some hold the job without an advanced degree. Additionally, despite the fact that many scientific research positions are found at educational institutions where a PhD is a requirement, many are also found in corporate, government, or industrial settings, where a Bachelor's degree may be sufficient.

Median Salary All U.S.: 50% of experienced employees who are Bachelors graduates will earn more than this amount, and 50% will earn less.

Note, this Bachelor's degree can be in any subject and from any school. The number of years of experience to qualify as experienced for a given job title was relative to others who possess that job title. For example, while 2 years of experience or more as an Assistant Buyer may qualify as experienced, 7 years of experience or more may be necessary to do so as a Business Development Manager.

Most Popular Jobs by Degree (or Major)

For each major, we have listed the jobs most frequently reported by (popular with) employees with Bachelor's degrees, specializing in that subject.

Just as with the "Degrees That Pay You Back" section, all jobs were considered, not just those specific to the major. Employees who graduated from any college were included in the calculation of popularity.

Most Popular Jobs by School

For each school, we have listed the jobs most frequently reported by (popular with) employees with Bachelor's degrees from the given school.

Note that, due to limited data per school, the median salary is based on national pay rates for Bachelors graduates in each job, not just graduates of the specific school.

Most Popular Schools by Job

For each of the given jobs, we have listed the schools with the highest percentage of graduates who report doing the job.
The largest universities graduate the most students, so usually have the largest number of people in any particular job as well. By ranking percentages, schools that produce a larger fraction of graduates who do a particular job than is typical are represented.

Schools are ordered by relative popularity. For most jobs, the minimum percentage to be in the list was 1.5% of a school's Bachelors graduates. Exceptions include Executive Director, Non-Profit Organization and Hotel Manager, where, due to the relative rarity of the jobs titles, a minimum of 0.5% of respondents from a school was necessary.

Foreign, military, and business only schools were excluded, as well as those for which there was insufficient data to conclude the popularity of a job title amongst the schools graduates.