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2012 Salary Madness: Can Alumni Salaries Predict the NCAA Champ?

by Lydia Frank, PayScale.com There are endless methods for picking your March Madness brackets, but here at PayScale we've been compiling brackets for several years by taking a look at the typical salaries of the school's graduates to determine the outcomes of the matchups. And, in 2010, we were right -- Duke took it. (Yeah, we were surprised, too!)

by Lydia Frank, PayScale.com

There are endless methods for picking your March Madness brackets, but here at PayScale we've been compiling brackets for several years by taking a look at the typical salaries of the school's graduates to determine the outcomes of the matchups. And, in 2010, we were right — Duke took it. (Yeah, we were surprised, too!)

Whether the games actually follow our brackets or not, what's really interesting is seeing the difference in typical pay for the school's graduates. So even if your alma mater is out in the first round, you might still have bragging rights when it comes to who wins the salary showdown.

This year the ultimate salary prize goes to Harvard. See how the other colleges fared in Salary Madness.

Do You Know What You're Worth?

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2012 Salary Madness Methodology

The process for selecting one school over another to see who advances to the next round of the Salary Madness tournament:

  • Identify the employees in our database who attended one of the 68 schools in the Men's NCAA basketball tournament.
  • Select those who have five to 15 years of experience in their current field/career (these are workers who are typically 35 years old).
  • Calculate the median annual total cash compensation for the selected employees.
  • Whichever team has the higher median graduate pay in each game wins.
  • If there is a “toss up” (pay difference of 5% or less), we picked the schools whose alumni earned slightly more.

Annual Total Cash Compensation: Combines base annual salary or hourly wage, bonuses, profit sharing, tips, commissions, and other forms of cash earnings, as applicable. It does not include equity (stock) compensation, cash value of retirement benefits, or the value of other non-cash benefits (e.g. healthcare).

Some Disclaimers:

  • We are reporting the median pay, not the average pay.
  • This isn't the pay earned by all graduates. You will know graduates of the school who earn much more or much less than these "typical" salaries.
  • We are only reporting pay for those who are employed full-time and are paid with either an hourly wage or an annual salary. Self-employed, project-based, and contract employees are not included.
  • We do not draw a distinction between those who earn their undergraduate degree from the school and those who earn a graduate or professional degree from the school. This can cause the median to be higher for schools with medical, business and law schools and somewhat lower for schools with graduate teaching, social work, and Ph.D. programs.

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