Best Value Colleges For Science Careers

Science careers are a great choice for students who prefer a lab coat to a suit and tie.

Science jobs encompass more than working in a lab though -- a science career can mean you work in any field from anthropology to zoology.  Read More

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1University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$491,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
2University of Massachusetts (UMass) - Amherst Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$451,000
Total 4 Year Cost$104,000
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,200
3University of Texas (UT) - Austin(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$401,000
Total 4 Year Cost$103,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
4University of California - Berkeley(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$399,000
Total 4 Year Cost$225,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
5University of Massachusetts (UMass) - Amherst Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$395,000
Total 4 Year Cost$160,000
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,200
6University of California - Santa Barbara (UCSB)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$391,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,800
7Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$363,000
Total 4 Year Cost$101,000
Grad Rate83%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,400
8Texas A&M University - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$358,000
Total 4 Year Cost$85,700
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,100
9University of California - Los Angeles (UCLA)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$335,000
Total 4 Year Cost$129,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$25,000
10University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$333,000
Total 4 Year Cost$121,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
11University of Delaware(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$314,000
Total 4 Year Cost$100,000
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$34,400
12University of Texas (UT) - Austin(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$306,000
Total 4 Year Cost$198,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
13San Diego State University (SDSU) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$305,000
Total 4 Year Cost$99,000
Grad Rate66%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,900
14Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$302,000
Total 4 Year Cost$162,000
Grad Rate83%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,400
15University of California - Santa Barbara (UCSB)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$300,000
Total 4 Year Cost$224,000
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,800

*NOTE: Unranked schools on this list don’t have on-campus living options, so on-campus costs are not available.

PayScale's list of Best College ROIs for Science Jobs calculates the return on investment for schools based on alumni who work in science jobs. Job titles in this category are varied and includes workers who work in the physical science jobs like geology, chemistry, environmental science and geography; life science jobs like biology, animal science and microbiology, and social science jobs like counseling, sociology and economics.

Before we look at the best value colleges for students who want to work in a science career, we should note that PayScale's College ROI figures are calculated based on college graduates who only earned a bachelor's degree. We do not include individuals who go on to earn advanced degrees because we can't accurately calculate the cost of graduate school. And since many of the highest-paying science jobs require advanced degrees, you may not see as high of numbers as you would expect. The truth is, if salary is your highest priority and you want to work in science, you'll most likely have to go to grad school. But the schools that rank well on PayScale's College ROI Report for science jobs provide a good return on investment for individuals who go on to work in the science field even if they only have a bachelor's degree.

UC Berkeley, home of the Golden Bears, is a great choice if a science career is in your future. Without financial aid, Cal students who work in the sciences see an ROI of $491,000. Furthermore, Cal students graduate in an average of four years, and Cal has a 91 percent graduation rate. This wonder school once again takes the cake in another category.

The University of Massachusetts (UMass) provides students with a 20-year net ROI of $451,000 and an annualized ROI of 8.9 percent. That means that a degree at UMass is a good investment if you plan to pursue a career in the sciences. And if you are one of the 78 percent of UMass students who receive financial aid, your net ROI jumps to $481,000. Even out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition than Massachusetts residents, see a high ROI. Their 20-year net ROI is $395,000, the fifth-highest ROI on our list.

The University of Texas at Austin holds third place with a 20-year net ROI of $401,000 and an annualized ROI of 8.5 percent for in-state students. It joins a host of other state schools that offer a good value of education, in terms of salary and ROI. In fact, every school on our list of best value colleges for science jobs is a public school. This doesn't mean that you can't get a good return on your investment if you attend a private school and want to work in sciences, it just means that it may be less common, as none of the private schools we studied had enough alumni who went on to work in life, physical or social science jobs for us to confidently calculate ROI figures.