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
All Alumni
RankSchool NameSchool TypeEarly Career Pay
Mid-Career Pay
% High Meaning
% STEM Degrees
Rank:1School Name:Harvey Mudd CollegeSchool Type:Engineering, Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$88,800Mid-Career Pay:$158,200% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:85%
Rank:2School Name:Samuel Merritt UniversitySchool Type:Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$91,200Mid-Career Pay:$154,100% High Meaning:90%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:3School Name:California Institute of TechnologySchool Type:Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityEarly Career Pay:$84,100Mid-Career Pay:$151,600% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:97%
Rank:4School Name:Stanford UniversitySchool Type:Engineering, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$79,000Mid-Career Pay:$145,200% High Meaning:56%% STEM Degrees:51%
Rank:5School Name:Charles R Drew University of Medicine and ScienceSchool Type:Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$78,300Mid-Career Pay:$135,700% High Meaning:-% STEM Degrees:3%
Rank:6School Name:Santa Clara UniversitySchool Type:Private School, Religious, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$69,900Mid-Career Pay:$134,700% High Meaning:44%% STEM Degrees:29%
Rank:7School Name:University of California-BerkeleySchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$70,700Mid-Career Pay:$131,800% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:36%
Rank:8School Name:California State University Maritime AcademySchool Type:State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$70,500Mid-Career Pay:$129,600% High Meaning:57%% STEM Degrees:15%
Rank:9School Name:Claremont McKenna CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$68,500Mid-Career Pay:$125,400% High Meaning:43%% STEM Degrees:16%
Rank:10School Name:University of California-San DiegoSchool Type:Engineering, Research University, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$63,400Mid-Career Pay:$123,700% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:58%
Rank:11School Name:University of Southern CaliforniaSchool Type:Private School, Research University, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$64,500Mid-Career Pay:$120,600% High Meaning:47%% STEM Degrees:23%
Rank:12School Name:California Polytechnic State University-San Luis ObispoSchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$65,600Mid-Career Pay:$119,500% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:38%
Rank:13School Name:Pomona CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$63,800Mid-Career Pay:$117,200% High Meaning:47%% STEM Degrees:37%
Rank:14School Name:University of California-Santa BarbaraSchool Type:Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,700Mid-Career Pay:$116,300% High Meaning:47%% STEM Degrees:29%
Rank:15School Name:University of California-Los AngelesSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$62,000Mid-Career Pay:$116,100% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:31%
Rank:16School Name:University of California-IrvineSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,600Mid-Career Pay:$116,000% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:34%
Rank:17School Name:San Jose State UniversitySchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$63,000Mid-Career Pay:$114,700% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:28%
Rank:18School Name:Loyola Marymount UniversitySchool Type:Private School, Religious, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$58,500Mid-Career Pay:$113,300% High Meaning:39%% STEM Degrees:9%
Rank:19School Name:University of California-DavisSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$61,500Mid-Career Pay:$112,600% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:35%
Rank:20School Name:Menlo CollegeSchool Type:Business, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$61,900Mid-Career Pay:$112,400% High Meaning:59%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:21School Name:California State Polytechnic University-PomonaSchool Type:State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$57,700Mid-Career Pay:$110,800% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:30%
Rank:21School Name:Saint Mary's College of CaliforniaSchool Type:Private School, Religious, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$59,900Mid-Career Pay:$110,800% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:5%
Rank:23School Name:University of San FranciscoSchool Type:Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$60,600Mid-Career Pay:$109,900% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:6%
Rank:24School Name:Golden Gate University-San FranciscoSchool Type:Business, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,200Mid-Career Pay:$109,800% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:3%
Rank:25School Name:University of San DiegoSchool Type:Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$58,900Mid-Career Pay:$109,400% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:12%

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College Student

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.