Best Value Colleges For Technology Careers

A career in tech is a smart choice if you want to see maximum return on investment for the money you spend on your education.

According to PayScale's College ROI Report technology careers can lead to some of the highest returns on investment for your dollar -- but choosing the right school can mean a difference of up to one million dollars over the first 20 years of your career.

Tech jobs, which include job titles such as software developer, product manager, program manager, IT administration, web developer, UX designer, data scientist, statistician and more, are in high demand in today's economy.  Read More

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1Stanford University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,420,000
Total 4 Year Cost$240,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,100
2University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,250,000
Total 4 Year Cost$133,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
3Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,240,000
Total 4 Year Cost$232,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,200
4University of California - Berkeley(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,160,000
Total 4 Year Cost$225,000
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,300
5Columbia University(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,100,000
Total 4 Year Cost$251,000
Grad Rate95%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,800
6Carnegie Mellon University (CMU)(Private)
20 Year Net ROI$1,030,000
Total 4 Year Cost$243,000
Grad Rate88%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$31,500
7University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$1,000,000
Total 4 Year Cost$121,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
8Georgia Institute of Technology(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$953,000
Total 4 Year Cost$91,500
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$31,700
9San Jose State University (SJSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$949,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,600
Grad Rate52%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,900
10California Polytechnic State University (CalPoly) - San Luis Obispo(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$938,000
Total 4 Year Cost$96,300
Grad Rate75%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$23,400
11University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$911,000
Total 4 Year Cost$213,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,600
12University of Washington (UW) - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$910,000
Total 4 Year Cost$104,000
Grad Rate84%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,600
13Colorado School of Mines(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$906,000
Total 4 Year Cost$118,000
Grad Rate76%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$33,400
14San Jose State University (SJSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$904,000
Total 4 Year Cost$142,000
Grad Rate52%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$21,900
15James Madison University (JMU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$894,000
Total 4 Year Cost$90,000
Grad Rate82%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$29,600

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

You don't have to major in computer science or math in order to work in tech either -- many tech jobs are held by people who studied a wide variety of subjects other than computer engineering in college. So even if you earn your bachelor's degree in humanities, communication, or even and design, as long as you also take classes (or teach yourself) in technical skills like programming, coding, statistics and engineering, you can land a high-paying tech career.

Since Northern California's Silicon Valley is the heart of the tech industry, it isn't surprising that the top two best College ROIs seen by technology workers come from the surrounding area. Stanford University in Palo Alto, CA provides the highest 20-year net ROI—$ 1,420,000 for students who pay the full sticker price of attending the elite private school, and $1,580,000 for students who receive the typical financial aid package from Stanford. (Fifty-one percent of Stanford students receive some sort of financial aid, despite the fact that only 15 percent of Stanford students come from low-income backgrounds and qualify for Pell Grants.) Despite the fact that Stanford is an expensive private school (it costs $240,000 to attend Stanford for four years if you pay sticker price), Stanford students do so well, especially in the tech field, that it is one of the best college values around for math and science careers.

In nearby Berkeley, California, alumni of UC Berkeley also see an extraordinarily high college return on investment if technology careers are in their future. In-state residents see an annualized ROI of 12.6 percent without aid, and a whopping 16.6 percent if they do receive financial aid. Even out-of-state residents, who pay significantly more to attend a University of California school, get a great value. The 20-year net ROI for out-of-state Cal alumni who go on to work in technology careers is still over one million dollars.

On the East Coast, Ivy League school Columbia University delivers a 20-year net ROI of $1,100,000. Located in Manhattan in New York City, Columbia equips students with a strong network of both established blue-chip employers and up and coming tech start-ups, and an annualized ROI of 8.9% percent without aid.

Other schools to consider if you want the highest college return on investment technology careers can offer include Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), Carnegie Mellon University and the Georgia Institute of Technology. In fact, it's hard to find a college with a low return on investment if you end up working in tech; none of the schools on our list have negative ROIs when you calculate based on the salaries of their alumni with tech jobs. But if you want to maximize your dollar, the ROI at the bottom of the list (out-of-state tuition for the SUNY - College at Buffalo, $212,000) is a far cry from the schools that net you closer to a million dollars.