Best Colleges in California by Salary Potential

About to take the important step of choosing college? Before you do, check out these college rankings by graduate salary in California.

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Bachelor's Only
Salary data for alumni who earned a bachelor's degree and did not go on to earn any additional degrees.
All Alumni
Salary data for all alumni who earned a bachelor's degree, including but not limited to those who went on to earn additional degrees from any school.
Rank 
School Name 
School Type
Degree Type 
School Sector
Early Career Pay
 
Median salary for alumni with 0-5 years experience
Mid-Career Pay
 
Median salary for alumni with 10+ years experience
% High Meaning
 
% alumni who say their work makes the world a better place
% STEM Degrees
 
% degrees awarded in science, technology, engineering or math subjects
1Engineering, Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$90,700$161,80055%85%

1Harvey Mudd College
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$90,700
Mid-Career Pay$161,800
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees85%
2Engineering, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$83,500$161,40061%51%

2Stanford University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$83,500
Mid-Career Pay$161,400
% High Meaning61%
% STEM Degrees51%
3Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$89,900$156,90053%97%

3California Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$89,900
Mid-Career Pay$156,900
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees97%
4Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$70,400$146,70045%29%

4Santa Clara University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$70,400
Mid-Career Pay$146,700
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees29%
5Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$71,100$144,80048%16%

5Claremont McKenna College
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$71,100
Mid-Career Pay$144,800
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees16%
6Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$72,100$143,30051%36%

6University of California-Berkeley
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$72,100
Mid-Career Pay$143,300
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees36%
7Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$66,700$136,40053%37%

7Pomona College
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$66,700
Mid-Career Pay$136,400
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees37%
8Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$65,100$135,50055%58%

8University of California-San Diego
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$65,100
Mid-Career Pay$135,500
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees58%
9State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$68,600$133,80057%15%

9California State University Maritime Academy
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$68,600
Mid-Career Pay$133,800
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees15%
10Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$91,800$133,200N/A3%

10Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$91,800
Mid-Career Pay$133,200
% High MeaningN/A
% STEM Degrees3%
11Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$94,200$129,70091%0%

11Samuel Merritt University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$94,200
Mid-Career Pay$129,700
% High Meaning91%
% STEM Degrees0%
12Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$60,700$129,20050%34%

12University of California-Irvine
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$60,700
Mid-Career Pay$129,200
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees34%
13Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$60,700$128,60049%29%

13University of California-Santa Barbara
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$60,700
Mid-Career Pay$128,600
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees29%
13Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$65,900$128,60049%23%

13University of Southern California
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$65,900
Mid-Career Pay$128,600
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees23%
15Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$63,900$127,10051%31%

15University of California-Los Angeles
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,900
Mid-Career Pay$127,100
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees31%
16Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$58,700$124,90042%9%

16Loyola Marymount University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$58,700
Mid-Career Pay$124,900
% High Meaning42%
% STEM Degrees9%
17For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$66,600$124,60052%38%

17California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$66,600
Mid-Career Pay$124,600
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees38%
18Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$62,500$123,30053%35%

18University of California-Davis
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$62,500
Mid-Career Pay$123,300
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees35%
19Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$55,300$119,80060%18%

19Westmont College
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$55,300
Mid-Career Pay$119,800
% High Meaning60%
% STEM Degrees18%
20Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$57,400$119,40055%25%

20Occidental College
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$57,400
Mid-Career Pay$119,400
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees25%
21Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$60,100$118,80052%5%

21Saint Mary's College of California
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$60,100
Mid-Career Pay$118,800
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees5%
22Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$59,700$118,70048%12%

22University of San Diego
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$59,700
Mid-Career Pay$118,700
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees12%
23Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$57,200$118,40048%31%

23University of California-Riverside
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$57,200
Mid-Career Pay$118,400
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees31%
24Business, Private SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$61,200$117,90057%0%

24Menlo College
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$61,200
Mid-Career Pay$117,900
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees0%
25For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$63,700$117,70054%28%

25San Jose State University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,700
Mid-Career Pay$117,700
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees28%
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Selecting the best colleges in California means plenty of options, as there are nearly 200 colleges to choose from.

Two Golden State powerhouses for early and mid-career salaries are Harvey Mudd College and the California Institute of Technology (Caltech). But when ranking by early career salary, you might be surprised to find out that little-known Loma Linda ranks fairly high. Loma Linda grants mostly medical degrees and produces lots of nurses, so those who graduate with a bachelor’s degree from Loma Linda are popular hires and see high salaries right away. However, they rank much lower for median mid-career salaries, because nurses salaries plateau rather quickly. Stanford alum, for example, go on to earn higher a median mid-career salaries, in general.

California is home to some of the most famous and well-regarded public universities in the nation. The University of California, Berkeley; UC San Diego; and California State University San Louis Obispo. California State University, Northridge is the biggest school in California, with more than 33,000 students.

California has one of the most famous coastlines in the United States, and is home to plenty of colleges with easy beach access. But that doesn’t mean that students surf more than they study — alumni of UCSD, UC Santa Barbara, UC Santa Cruz, Pepperdine University and San Diego State University all earn a comfortable median mid-career salary and have beautiful, beachside campuses.


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