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
26Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$57,700$110,20057%16%

26University of the Pacific
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$57,700
Mid-Career Pay$110,200
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees16%
27Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$54,000$109,30047%31%

27University of California-Riverside
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$54,000
Mid-Career Pay$109,300
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees31%
28Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$52,400$108,30054%18%

28Westmont College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$52,400
Mid-Career Pay$108,300
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees18%
29Business, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$58,900$107,30051%3%

29Golden Gate University-San Francisco
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$58,900
Mid-Career Pay$107,300
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees3%
30Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$56,400$104,80043%7%

30Pepperdine University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$56,400
Mid-Career Pay$104,800
% High Meaning43%
% STEM Degrees7%
31Research University, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$56,100$104,70045%38%

31University of California-Santa Cruz
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$56,100
Mid-Career Pay$104,700
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees38%
32State SchoolBachelorsPublic$55,100$104,20052%13%

32California State University-Chico
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$55,100
Mid-Career Pay$104,200
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees13%
33Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$53,400$102,90052%16%

33San Diego State University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$53,400
Mid-Career Pay$102,900
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees16%
34Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$62,800$101,80040%4%

34Art Center College of Design
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$62,800
Mid-Career Pay$101,800
% High Meaning40%
% STEM Degrees4%
35Business, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$53,300$101,70057%4%

35University of Redlands
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$53,300
Mid-Career Pay$101,700
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees4%
36For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$51,100$101,60049%16%

36California State University-Long Beach
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$51,100
Mid-Career Pay$101,600
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees16%
37Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$51,300$100,80070%0%

37Southern California Institute of Architecture
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$51,300
Mid-Career Pay$100,800
% High Meaning70%
% STEM Degrees0%
38Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$70,300$100,20083%3%

38Loma Linda University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$70,300
Mid-Career Pay$100,200
% High Meaning83%
% STEM Degrees3%
39For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$53,000$100,10053%16%

39California State University-Sacramento
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$53,000
Mid-Career Pay$100,100
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees16%
40Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$49,400$100,00048%15%

40California State University-Fullerton
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$49,400
Mid-Career Pay$100,000
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees15%
41Art, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$56,600$99,40050%0%

41California College of the Arts
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$56,600
Mid-Career Pay$99,400
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees0%
42State SchoolBachelorsPublic$55,600$99,20051%12%

42California State University-East Bay
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$55,600
Mid-Career Pay$99,200
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees12%
43Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$49,300$98,60050%9%

43Whittier College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$49,300
Mid-Career Pay$98,600
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees9%
43Research University, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$55,200$98,60048%14%

43San Francisco State University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$55,200
Mid-Career Pay$98,600
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees14%
45Art, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$52,100$98,10034%0%

45Otis College of Art and Design
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$52,100
Mid-Career Pay$98,100
% High Meaning34%
% STEM Degrees0%
46For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$49,600$97,90051%12%

46California State University-Northridge
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$49,600
Mid-Career Pay$97,900
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees12%
47Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$51,900$97,30045%5%

47Chapman University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$51,900
Mid-Career Pay$97,300
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees5%
48Private School, ReligiousBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$50,600$96,50052%11%

48California Lutheran University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$50,600
Mid-Career Pay$96,500
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees11%
48Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$49,800$96,50056%10%

48California State University-Fresno
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$49,800
Mid-Career Pay$96,500
% High Meaning56%
% STEM Degrees10%
50Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$51,000$96,20052%18%

50Pitzer College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$51,000
Mid-Career Pay$96,200
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees18%
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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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