Best Value Colleges For Science Careers

Science careers are a great choice for students who prefer lab coats to suits and ties.  Read More

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1San Jose State University (SJSU)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$560,000
Total 4 Year Cost$93,000
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,960
2San Jose State University (SJSU)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$514,900
Total 4 Year Cost$138,100
Grad Rate48%
Time to Graduate5 Years
Loan Amt$20,960
3University of California - Berkeley(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$483,100
Total 4 Year Cost$129,900
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,360
4University of Texas (UT) - Austin(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$462,700
Total 4 Year Cost$100,300
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,960
5University of Massachusetts (UMass) - Amherst Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$453,300
Total 4 Year Cost$99,700
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,600
6University of Massachusetts (UMass) - Amherst Campus(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$400,500
Total 4 Year Cost$152,500
Grad Rate73%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,600
7University of California - Berkeley(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$391,600
Total 4 Year Cost$221,400
Grad Rate91%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,360
8University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$375,000
Total 4 Year Cost$118,000
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,440
9University of Texas (UT) - Austin(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$370,800
Total 4 Year Cost$192,200
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$23,960
10University of California - Davis (UC Davis)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$347,300
Total 4 Year Cost$125,700
Grad Rate81%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,280
11Texas A&M University - Main Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$339,800
Total 4 Year Cost$83,200
Grad Rate79%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$24,480
12Rutgers University - New Brunswick Campus(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$328,800
Total 4 Year Cost$114,200
Grad Rate80%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$32,240
13University of Florida (UF)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$316,800
Total 4 Year Cost$76,200
Grad Rate87%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,720
14University of California - San Diego (UCSD)(Out-of-State)
20 Year Net ROI$283,500
Total 4 Year Cost$209,500
Grad Rate86%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$22,440
15University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)(In-State)
20 Year Net ROI$281,200
Total 4 Year Cost$111,800
Grad Rate84%
Time to Graduate4 Years
Loan Amt$26,840

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

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

California public schools take first and second place for best value colleges for science jobs. San Jose State University (SJSU) provides students with a 20-year net ROI of $560,000 and an annualized ROI of 10.4 percent. That means that a degree at San Jose State University is a good investment if you plan to purse a career in the sciences. And if you are one of the 45 percent of SJSU students who receive financial aid, your net ROI jumps to $599,100. Even out-of-state students, who pay higher tuition than California residents, see a high ROI. Their 20-year net ROI is $514,900, the second highest ROI on our list.

UC Berkeley, home of the Golden Bears, is another great choice if a science career is in your future. Without financial aid, Cal students who work in the sciences see an ROI of $483,100. Furthermore, Cal students graduate in an average of four years, and Cal has a 91 percent graduation rate, compared to SJSU's 48 percent graduation rate.

The University of Texas at Austin holds fourth place with a 20-year net ROI of $462,700 and an annualized ROI of 9.2 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. The University of Massachusetts at Amherst, UC San Diego, UC Davis and Texas A&M also do well. 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.