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Fancy Liberal Arts Colleges Can Pay Off


If you're considering going to college, do the words "liberal arts college" make tuition dollars dance before your eyes? While the're known for being high dollar, PayScale's 2012-2013 College Salary Report has found that some liberal arts colleges make up for their top tuition in top post-gradaute earnings.

PayScale looked at over 1,000 colleges and 130 majors to help answer the questions many high school and college students (and their parents) have about the value of getting an education. Today, we will look at the top 10 liberal arts colleges by salary potential so you can see if your dreams of philosophical discussions and cozy class sizes will pay off.

Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential

Do You Know What You're Worth?

Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential Methodology
Annual pay for bachelor’s graduates without higher degrees. Typical starting graduates have two years of experience; mid-career graduates have 15 years. See full methodology.

The colleges on our list might surprise you. The number one liberal arts college is Harvey Mudd College (HMC) is not only a liberal arts school it is one of the top engineering, science, and math colleges in the country. Because HMC strives to turn out well-rounded graduates, the curriculum pushes a hefty dose of social sciences and humanities on top of the typical math, science, and engineering classes. Students don’t have to sacrifice their love of music or art in order to get a top-notch science education. Graduates of HMC typically earn $135,000, mid-career.

The military is well-represented on our list, with the United States Naval Academy (Annapolis) and the United States Military Academy (West Point) coming in at two and three, respectively. Responsible for education and training many of our country’s leading service men and women, these academies place high value on moral development along with educational training. Plus, the Army/Navy football rivalry is famous, with USNA enjoying a 10 year winning streak. Just like in football, Annapolis comes out on top of our list, with graduates earning mid-career salaries of $122,000, just above West Point’s $120,000. 

Williams College earns fourth place this year, with graduates earning mid-career salaries of $113,000. This college is notable due to its diverse student population, its emphasis on experiential learning, and commitment to providing financial aid to students in need. Famous graduates include President James A. Garfield (1856) and Stephen Sondheim (1950). 

The number five college on our list, Colgate University, attributes its success to small classes, dedicated faculty, and a selective admissions process. Bob Woodruff, ABC News anchor, is a Colgate alum, as is Charles Addams, creator of The Addams Family. Graduates can earn up to $111,000 mid-career salaries. 

The rest of the schools in the top 10 are as impressive, with high salary potential for graduates, which breaks down as follows: 


Tell Us What You Think

Did you attend one of these colleges? Are you considering a liberal arts school? Join in the discussion on Twitter using the hashtag #valueofedu.

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(Photo credit: limassol/flickr)

Alida Mooreston
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