The Best Colleges Based on Salary Potential

PayScale’s College Salary Report helps you research colleges, majors and careers based on how much salary you could earn by the time you reach mid-career if you attend a specific college. We call this salary potential, and we use it to calculate our rankings which come from the alumni salary data of 3.2 million respondents representing over four thousand universities across the U.S, including the addition of 205 universities that are brand new to the report.

Why Rank Colleges By Salary Potential?

Choosing what college to attend and what you want to study is a difficult decision. Where you choose to go to college, what type of degree you decide to get, and the major you choose to study can greatly impact your future salary potential. We’re not suggesting that all college students should choose their school and degree based on the potential to make a lot of money; but understanding what your earning power is likely to be post-graduation is crucial in order to make a sound financial decision when selecting a college and the major you want to study.

College Rankings Highlights and Trends

While the data changes from year to year, there are a couple of things that stay constant in our college rankings; college is (still) expensive, and not all universities are created equal. With that being said, there are newfound trends and highlights from this year’s data that can help you and your family make the best decisions when it comes to choosing a college.

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Associate Degree Rankings

Two-year degrees are an affordable (and often overlooked) option for college-bound students. For students who are taking out loans entirely on their own, picking a college that has a high salary potential could cut your student loan payback time in half. The associate degree rankings show that healthcare and nursing schools are the biggest earners in terms of salary potential.

Top Two-Year Schools for Salary Potential

1. Helene Fuld College of Nursing – Mid-Career Median Salary: $90,500

Helene Fuld College of Nursing is located in New York and has been around since 1945. They offer LPN to RN program so students can earn their Associates in Applied Science within two years. There are around 450 full-time students enrolled in the school.

2. Pacific Union College – Mid-Career Median Salary: $89,800

Pacific Union College is a private, liberal arts college located in Angwin, California near the Napa Valley. PCU is a small college, with a student teacher ratio of 13:1. Students can earn a two-year degree in a number of healthcare, aviation, emergency services and more.

3. Cochran School of Nursing – Mid-Career Median Salary: $84,800

Cochran School of Nursing is a small (around 85 students) nursing school located in Yonkers, New York. Because Cochran is affiliated with St. John’s Riverside Hospital, the school is able to guarantee clinical placement which is perfect for nursing students looking to put their skills directly to work after graduation.

2018 Bachelor Degree Rankings

Bachelor degrees are a common choice for those seeking a degree; but bachelor degrees are expensive, especially if you don’t have monetary support from scholarships to help pay your tuition. And even with support from scholarships, student loan debt is simply an expected hardship when getting a college degree these days. This is why it’s important to choose a college with a high salary potential. In terms of four-year degrees, a few universities stood out on top, but for their own unique reasons.

Top Four-Year Schools for Salary Potential

1. Harvey Mudd College – Mid-Career Median Salary: $157,400

Harvey Mudd College is a private college located in Claremont, California. This is the second year in a row for HMC to take the top spot on our College Salary Report. What makes this college so great? To start, HMC is a STEM-focused institution, specializing in science and engineering degrees. The college has an undergraduate student population of 809 and has a scenic campus.

2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology – Mid-Career Median Salary: $150,400

MIT is one of the more prestigious universities that earned a top spot in our bachelor’s degree category. Located in Cambridge, MIT is a renowned research university known for its advanced research in areas like technology and science. At MIT, 85 percent of undergraduates use enriched research to complete their degrees.

3. United States Naval Academy – Mid-Career Median Salary: $149,800

Although USNA is the only military college to crack the top three, it’s certainly not the only military college that ranks highly on our bachelor degree list this year. Military colleges like USNA are great for those trying to avoid student loans altogether. USNA is located in Annapolis, Maryland.

Best Schools by State

Picking the right college for you can seem daunting, but it doesn’t have to be. Check out the best colleges with the highest paid graduates by state.

Louisiana
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Maine
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Maryland
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Massachusetts
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Michigan
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Minnesota
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Mississippi
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Missouri
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Montana
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Nebraska
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Nevada
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New Hampshire
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New Jersey
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New Mexico
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New York
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North Carolina
Associate | Bachelor’s

North Dakota
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Ohio
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Oklahoma
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Oregon
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Pennsylvania
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Rhode Island
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South Carolina
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South Dakota
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Tennessee
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Texas
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Utah
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Vermont
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Virginia
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Washington
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Washington, D.C.
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West Virginia
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Wisconsin
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Wyoming
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What Am I Worth?

What your skills are worth in the job market is constantly changing.