Methodology Overview

Data Set Characteristics:

All data used to produce PayScale's 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 degrees are included. This means Bachelor graduates who go on to 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 degrees higher than a bachelor's degree can represent a significant fraction of all graduates.

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

U.S. Only: All reports are for graduates of schools from the United States who work in the United States. This sample does not include U.S. territories, such as Puerto Rico or Guam.

Full-Time Employees Only:
Only graduates who are employed full-time and paid with 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: Combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, overtime, and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable.

Salary does not include equity (stock) compensation, which can be a significant portion of pay for some executive and high-tech jobs. In addition, salary does not include cash value of retirement benefits, or value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).

Starting Employees: These are full-time employees with 5 years of experience or less in their career or field who hold a bachelor's degree and no higher degrees.

For the graduates in this data set, the typical (median) starting employee is 25 years old and has 2 years of experience.

Mid-Career Employees: These are full-time employees with at least 10 years of experience in their career or field who hold a bachelor's degree and no higher degrees.

For the graduates in this data set, the typical (median) mid-career employee is 42 years old and has 15 years of experience.

Salary Potential:

Top Colleges - Salary Potential by School Type and 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. All 4-year public schools with undergraduate enrollment of at least 5,000 and private schools with undergraduate enrollment of at least 1,000 were considered for our package. Some highly selective public schools with enrollment under 5,000 (e.g. Colorado School of Mines) were also considered. Due to limited samples, some schools are not included on any published list.

Starting Median Salary: Half of the Starting Employees from a school will earn more than this salary, while half will earn less.

Mid-Career Median Salary: Half of the Mid-Career Employees from a school will earn more than this salary, while half will earn less.

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

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

Degrees That Pay You Back:

We provided the national median salary for 75 popular bachelor degree majors.

All colleges and universities across the nation were included. The median salaries 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, such as Computer Science or Civil Engineering, do typically pursue a job in the same subject, many others will often pursue careers in an unrelated area. For example, a history major may choose a job in a general business field.

Starting Median Salary: Half of the Starting Employees from a school will earn more than this salary, while half will earn less.

Mid-Career Median Salary: Half of the Mid-Career Employees from a school will earn more than this salary, while half will earn less.

90% Confidence Interval on the 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% 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 are 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 advanced degrees, such as doctors and lawyers, are not present. However, those which generally are held by workers with advanced degrees will sometimes appear. For example, an MBA is not required to become a Chief Financial Officer, but it is commonly held by workers is this position. Additionally, despite the fact that many scientific research positions require a PhD, there is bachelors-level research done in corporate, government, and industrial settings.

Median Salary All U.S.: Half of experienced employees with a bachelor's degree and no higher will earn more than this amount, while half will earn less.

Note: This bachelor's degree can be in any subject and from any school. The years of experience necessary to qualify as an "experienced employee" for a given job title is relative to others who hold the same job title. For example, 2 years of experience or more as a Human Resources Assistant may qualify as experienced, while 7 years of experience or more may be necessary to qualify as an experienced IT Manager.

Most Popular Jobs by Degree (or Major)

For each major, we list the jobs most frequently reported by (popular with) employees holding a bachelor's degree only and specializing in that subject.

Just as with the "Degrees That Pay Your 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 list the jobs most frequently reported by (popular with) employees holding a bachelor's degree from the given school.

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

Most Popular Schools by Job

For each of the given jobs, we list the schools with the highest percentage of graduates who report doing the job.

The largest universities graduate the most students and thus they usually have the largest number of people in any particular job. By ranking percentages, schools that produce a larger fraction of graduates who do a particular job than is typical are represented.

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 titles amongst school graduates.

Definitions of Types and Regions of Schools

Types of Schools

  1. Arts - Schools where instruction is primarily focused in fine arts. This includes drawing, painting, design, Graphic Arts, Culinary Arts, etc.
  2. Engineering - Schools ranked as engineering schools by U.S. News and World Report and/or recognized as having an accredited engineering program by the Accreditation Board for Engineering and Technology (ABET)
  3. For-Profit - Schools run by private, profit-seeking organizations or companies
  4. Ivy - Schools included in the Ivy League
  5. Liberal Arts - Small private schools with a primary focus in the undergraduate study of liberal arts
  6. Party - Schools categorized as the top 20 party schools by The Princeton Review for 2009
  7. Private - Schools categorized as Private, Not-for-Profit by the Depatment of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)
  8. State - Schools categorized as Public by the Department of Education's National Center for Education Statistics (NCES)

Note: Categories are not exhaustive or definitive. For example, all Ivy Leagues are Private and some are Engineering, and some Engineering are also State or Private.

Regions of Schools

  1. California - The State of California
  2. Midwest - The States of Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Michigan, Minnesota, Missouri, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Dakota, and Wisconsin
  3. Northeast - The States of Connecticut, Maine, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, and Vermont
  4. South - The States of Alabama, Arkansas, Delaware, Florida, Georgia, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maryland, Mississippi, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Virgina, West Virginia and the District of Columbia
  5. West - The States of Alaska, Arizona, Colorado, Hawaii, Idaho, Montana, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Utah, Washington, and Wyoming