Best Colleges in California by Salary Potential

California has more colleges and universities than any other state. Find out which schools are the state’s best four-year colleges by earning potential.

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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 SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$88,800$158,20055%85%

1Harvey Mudd College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$88,800
Mid-Career Pay$158,200
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees85%
2Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$91,200$154,10090%0%

2Samuel Merritt University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$91,200
Mid-Career Pay$154,100
% High Meaning90%
% STEM Degrees0%
3Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$84,100$151,60053%97%

3California Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$84,100
Mid-Career Pay$151,600
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees97%
4Engineering, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$79,000$145,20056%51%

4Stanford University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$79,000
Mid-Career Pay$145,200
% High Meaning56%
% STEM Degrees51%
5Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$78,300$135,700N/A3%

5Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$78,300
Mid-Career Pay$135,700
% High MeaningN/A
% STEM Degrees3%
6Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$69,900$134,70044%29%

6Santa Clara University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$69,900
Mid-Career Pay$134,700
% High Meaning44%
% STEM Degrees29%
7Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$70,700$131,80049%36%

7University of California-Berkeley
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$70,700
Mid-Career Pay$131,800
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees36%
8State SchoolBachelorsPublic$70,500$129,60057%15%

8California State University Maritime Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$70,500
Mid-Career Pay$129,600
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees15%
9Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$68,500$125,40043%16%

9Claremont McKenna College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$68,500
Mid-Career Pay$125,400
% High Meaning43%
% STEM Degrees16%
10Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$63,400$123,70052%58%

10University of California-San Diego
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,400
Mid-Career Pay$123,700
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees58%
11Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$64,500$120,60047%23%

11University of Southern California
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$64,500
Mid-Career Pay$120,600
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees23%
12For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$65,600$119,50051%38%

12California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$65,600
Mid-Career Pay$119,500
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees38%
13Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$63,800$117,20047%37%

13Pomona College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$63,800
Mid-Career Pay$117,200
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees37%
14Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$59,700$116,30047%29%

14University of California-Santa Barbara
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$59,700
Mid-Career Pay$116,300
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees29%
15Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$62,000$116,10048%31%

15University of California-Los Angeles
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$62,000
Mid-Career Pay$116,100
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees31%
16Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$59,600$116,00049%34%

16University of California-Irvine
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$59,600
Mid-Career Pay$116,000
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees34%
17For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$63,000$114,70053%28%

17San Jose State University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,000
Mid-Career Pay$114,700
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees28%
18Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$58,500$113,30039%9%

18Loyola Marymount University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$58,500
Mid-Career Pay$113,300
% High Meaning39%
% STEM Degrees9%
19Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$61,500$112,60052%35%

19University of California-Davis
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$61,500
Mid-Career Pay$112,600
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees35%
20Business, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$61,900$112,40059%0%

20Menlo College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$61,900
Mid-Career Pay$112,400
% High Meaning59%
% STEM Degrees0%
21State SchoolBachelorsPublic$57,700$110,80050%30%

21California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$57,700
Mid-Career Pay$110,800
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees30%
21Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$59,900$110,80051%5%

21Saint Mary's College of California
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$59,900
Mid-Career Pay$110,800
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees5%
23Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$60,600$109,90052%6%

23University of San Francisco
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$60,600
Mid-Career Pay$109,900
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees6%
24Business, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$59,200$109,80049%3%

24Golden Gate University-San Francisco
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$59,200
Mid-Career Pay$109,800
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees3%
25Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$58,900$109,40048%12%

25University of San Diego
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$58,900
Mid-Career Pay$109,400
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees12%
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Wondering how to choose the best colleges in California by alumni salary? This list provides data on several of the best four-year colleges by earning potential in California. Selecting a school in the Golden State means plenty of options, as there are nearly 200 colleges to choose from.

Almost every year, alumni of Harvey Mudd College are among the highest-paid college graduates in the state. (Harvey Mudd has had bragging rights to the highest alumni salaries in the country for the past several years, too.) Another California tech powerhouse for early and mid-career salaries is the California Institute of Technology (Caltech).

When ranking by early career salary, you might be surprised to find out that Loma Linda University beats some more well-known schools on our list. 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.

The two colleges with the most STEM degrees granted are the mostly-male Coleman University and Caltech, both with roughly 90 percent STEM degrees. For students looking for mentorship and personal attention, both Caltech and Loma Linda University boast extraordinarily low student-to-faculty ratios of one faculty member to every three students. Each of these schools have very specific focuses – Loma Linda offers hands-on medical training to students interested in becoming medical professionals, while CalTech is famous for its scientific and engineering pursuits.

The University of California, San Diego grants the largest share of STEM degrees of any public school. About fifty percent of UCSD students major in a science, technology, engineering or math subject.

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.

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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