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$85,600$157,40056%85%

1Harvey Mudd College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$85,600
Mid-Career Pay$157,400
% High Meaning56%
% STEM Degrees85%
2Engineering, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$76,500$143,10057%51%

2Stanford University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$76,500
Mid-Career Pay$143,100
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees51%
2Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$83,400$143,10054%96%

2California Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$83,400
Mid-Career Pay$143,100
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees96%
4Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$66,800$139,10044%29%

4Santa Clara University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$66,800
Mid-Career Pay$139,100
% High Meaning44%
% STEM Degrees29%
5Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$68,300$132,30049%36%

5University of California-Berkeley
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$68,300
Mid-Career Pay$132,300
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees36%
6State SchoolBachelorsPublic$67,500$129,10055%15%

6California State University Maritime Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$67,500
Mid-Career Pay$129,100
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees15%
7Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$66,800$127,40045%16%

7Claremont McKenna College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$66,800
Mid-Career Pay$127,400
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees16%
8Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$61,300$126,80052%58%

8University of California-San Diego
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$61,300
Mid-Career Pay$126,800
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees58%
9Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$82,900$124,000N/A3%

9Charles R Drew University of Medicine and Science
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$82,900
Mid-Career Pay$124,000
% High MeaningN/A
% STEM Degrees3%
10Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$91,400$123,100N/A0%

10Samuel Merritt University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$91,400
Mid-Career Pay$123,100
% High MeaningN/A
% STEM Degrees0%
11Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$62,000$122,60047%23%

11University of Southern California
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$62,000
Mid-Career Pay$122,600
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees23%
12Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$57,700$121,80048%33%

12University of California-Irvine
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$57,700
Mid-Career Pay$121,800
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees33%
13Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$57,300$121,50047%29%

13University of California-Santa Barbara
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$57,300
Mid-Career Pay$121,500
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees29%
14Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$60,500$119,90047%37%

14Pomona College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$60,500
Mid-Career Pay$119,900
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees37%
15Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$60,000$118,50047%31%

15University of California-Los Angeles
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$60,000
Mid-Career Pay$118,500
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees31%
16For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$63,500$118,00051%38%

16California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,500
Mid-Career Pay$118,000
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees38%
17Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$56,000$116,30039%9%

17Loyola Marymount University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$56,000
Mid-Career Pay$116,300
% High Meaning39%
% STEM Degrees9%
18Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$59,400$113,80053%35%

18University of California-Davis
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$59,400
Mid-Career Pay$113,800
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees35%
19Business, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$59,100$113,70056%0%

19Menlo College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$59,100
Mid-Career Pay$113,700
% High Meaning56%
% STEM Degrees0%
20For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$61,300$112,40054%28%

20San Jose State University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$61,300
Mid-Career Pay$112,400
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees28%
21State SchoolBachelorsPublic$56,000$111,60050%30%

21California State Polytechnic University-Pomona
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$56,000
Mid-Career Pay$111,600
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees30%
22Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$57,700$111,50048%5%

22Saint Mary's College of California
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$57,700
Mid-Career Pay$111,500
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees5%
23Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$54,100$111,10047%25%

23Occidental College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$54,100
Mid-Career Pay$111,100
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees25%
24Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$58,600$110,60052%6%

24University of San Francisco
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$58,600
Mid-Career Pay$110,600
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees6%
25Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$56,600$110,40047%12%

25University of San Diego
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$56,600
Mid-Career Pay$110,400
% High Meaning47%
% 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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