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PayScale’s 2016-2017 College Salary Report Reveals Students of the Top 50 Bachelor’s Schools By Earning Potential are Predominantly Male

Engineering degrees dominate list of highest-paid median mid-career pay; SUNY – Maritime College holds onto top spot for mid-career median salaries for bachelor’s-only graduates; The lowest-ranking PhD in terms of income ranks highest in terms of job meaning: Counseling Psychology

Seattle – September 20, 2016 – PayScale, Inc., the world’s leading provider of on-demand compensation data and software today announced a new report, PayScale’s 2016-2017 College Salary Report.

PayScale’s 2016-2017 College Salary Report reports on salary data for alumni of a total of 1,388 schools broken down by the following degree levels:

  • Associate degree only (381 institutions)
  • Bachelor’s degree only – alumni who go on to receive advanced degrees NOT included (963 institutions)
  • All Bachelor’s degree holders, including alumni who go on to earn advanced degrees (983 institutions)
  • All Graduate degree holders (383 institutions)
    • Master’s degrees (344 institutions)
    • PhDs (61 institutions)
    • MBAs (190 institutions)
    • JDs (37 institutions; Data included for law schools largely covers those who are employed at second-tier law firms or in public law due to standardized salaries at top-tier law firms.)

The report also includes salary data for alumni with the following majors and degree levels:

  • 140 majors at the associate level
  • 336 majors at the bachelor’s level
  • 253 graduate-level degrees (master’s, PhD and MBA)

“Students attending the top 50 bachelor’s schools are predominantly male (55 percent),” said Katie Bardaro, Lead Economist, PayScale. “This is inverted for the other 909 schools in the list – they are 55 percent female. This could be that men earn more than women and therefore drive up these schools’ rankings, or that men are more likely than women to be admitted into these high-ranking schools. So, either this difference is driving the gender wage gap, or it is driven by the gender wage gap, or both.”

Continues Bardaro, “This year’s report highlights that degrees focusing on engineering and science provide the greatest opportunity for increased and high median mid-career salaries. It also finds that degrees focused on nursing, human resources and psychology show the least opportunity for high median mid-career salaries.”

Other highlightsfrom PayScale’s 2016-2017 College Salary Reportinclude:

Schools (Bachelor’s degree only)

  • For the second year in a row, SUNY – Maritime College defends its top spot on the list of highest mid-career median salaries for bachelor’s-only graduates, reporting a median mid-career alumni income of $144,000, which is a 7.5 percent increase from the prior year and $10,000 higher than the next highest school, Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT). This is also the second year that SUNY – Maritime College tops the bachelor’s degree-and-higher list of schools, commanding highest mid-career median pay at $147,000.
  • The biggest positive rank change among the top 20 ranked bachelor’s-only schools is Brown University, which moved up 15 spots to #20.


  • None of the associate degrees included in our ranking lead to six-figure mid-career median salaries, as compared with 10 percent of majors in bachelor’s degrees.
  • Computer engineering (CE) takes the top spot with a median mid-career pay of $77,300.


  • Fifteen out of the top 20 ranked bachelor’s majors are engineering-focused, including the number-one-ranked major, petroleum engineering ($172,000). Of the 38 engineering majors on the list, 26 of them (68 percent) are ranked in the top 50 in terms of median mid-career pay.
  • In percentage terms, Dental Hygiene majors show the smallest growth in median pay between early- and mid-career, with only a 15 percent increase from $65,400 to $74,900. Early Childhood Education majors see the smallest growth in absolute terms, with pay increasing from $30,700 to $37,500 from early- to mid-career.


  • In terms of pay growth during the career, master’s degrees related to nursing see the lowest growth. Nine out of the 10 master’s programs with the lowest percentage growth in income from early- to mid-career are nursing degrees.


  • The majority of MBA majors (74 percent) lead to six-figure median mid-career salaries.
  • MBAs who focus on Human Resources receive the lowest pay (both early- and mid-career), followed by those who focus on accounting.
  • MBAs with a focus on strategy receive the highest mid-career incomes, followed by entrepreneurship and finance.


  • When compared to all other degree levels, PhDs most often say they find their work meaningful, with the median PhD major reporting 70 percent high job meaning.
  • Chemical engineering and organic chemistry are tied for the top spot with a mid-career median pay of $146,000.
  • Computer Science PhD graduates rank the highest in early-career median pay at $118,000. Computer Science PhD grads also boast a high median mid-career salary of $145,000 (third highest).
  • The lowest-ranking PhD in terms of income ranks highest in terms of job meaning: Counseling Psychology PhDs report mid-career median pay of $81,500 and 97 percent high job meaning.

For more information about the report, please visit:

For more information about the report methodology, please visit:

About PayScale

PayScale powers compensation solutions in the cloud to provide immediate visibility into the right pay for any position. Creator of the world’s largest database of rich salary profiles, PayScale offers modern compensation software and real-time, data driven insights for employees and employers alike. More than 5,000 customers, from small businesses to Fortune 500 companies, use PayScale Benchmark™, PayScale Insight™ and MarketPay. These include Bloomberg BNA, Cummins, Intercom, Time Warner, Clemson University and Signature HealthCARE.

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