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:26School Name:Westmont CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$54,600Mid-Career Pay:$113,300% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:18%
Rank:27School Name:University of the PacificSchool Type:Private School, Research University, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$59,600Mid-Career Pay:$112,100% High Meaning:62%% STEM Degrees:16%
Rank:28School Name:University of California-Santa CruzSchool Type:Research University, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,300Mid-Career Pay:$110,700% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:38%
Rank:29School Name:Golden Gate University-San FranciscoSchool Type:Business, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,700Mid-Career Pay:$109,500% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:3%
Rank:30School Name:California State University-ChicoSchool Type:State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$57,300Mid-Career Pay:$108,700% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:13%
Rank:31School Name:University of California-RiversideSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$56,800Mid-Career Pay:$108,500% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:31%
Rank:32School Name:Pepperdine UniversitySchool Type:Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$59,400Mid-Career Pay:$106,900% High Meaning:47%% STEM Degrees:7%
Rank:33School Name:Art Center College of DesignSchool Type:Art, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$66,300Mid-Career Pay:$106,400% High Meaning:41%% STEM Degrees:4%
Rank:34School Name:Southern California Institute of ArchitectureSchool Type:Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$54,300Mid-Career Pay:$106,300% High Meaning:72%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:35School Name:University of RedlandsSchool Type:Business, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$55,900Mid-Career Pay:$105,300% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:4%
Rank:36School Name:California College of the ArtsSchool Type:Art, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$61,700Mid-Career Pay:$104,900% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:37School Name:San Diego State UniversitySchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$56,100Mid-Career Pay:$104,700% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:16%
Rank:38School Name:Whittier CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$52,300Mid-Career Pay:$104,500% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:9%
Rank:39School Name:California State University-East BaySchool Type:State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$58,400Mid-Career Pay:$104,400% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:12%
Rank:40School Name:California State University-Long BeachSchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$53,500Mid-Career Pay:$104,200% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:16%
Rank:41School Name:Chapman UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$54,800Mid-Career Pay:$102,100% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:5%
Rank:42School Name:California State University-FullertonSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$51,700Mid-Career Pay:$101,900% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:15%
Rank:43School Name:Pitzer CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$55,200Mid-Career Pay:$101,800% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:18%
Rank:43School Name:California State University-SacramentoSchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$55,500Mid-Career Pay:$101,800% High Meaning:54%% STEM Degrees:16%
Rank:45School Name:Loma Linda UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$70,800Mid-Career Pay:$101,100% High Meaning:81%% STEM Degrees:3%
Rank:46School Name:Otis College of Art and DesignSchool Type:Art, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$54,100Mid-Career Pay:$101,000% High Meaning:37%% STEM Degrees:0%
Rank:47School Name:California Lutheran UniversitySchool Type:Private School, ReligiousEarly Career Pay:$52,400Mid-Career Pay:$100,900% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:11%
Rank:48School Name:San Francisco State UniversitySchool Type:Research University, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$58,200Mid-Career Pay:$100,800% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:14%
Rank:49School Name:Scripps CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$56,100Mid-Career Pay:$100,300% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:28%
Rank:49School Name:California State University-NorthridgeSchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$52,000Mid-Career Pay:$100,300% High Meaning:52%% 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.