Best Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential

Dream of attending a liberal arts college, but afraid you won’t find a job after? Check out these liberal arts schools with highest-paid graduates.

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Bachelor's Only
All Alumni
RankSchool NameSchool TypeEarly Career Pay
Mid-Career Pay
% High Meaning
% STEM Degrees
Rank:1School Name:United States Naval AcademySchool Type:Engineering, Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$85,800Mid-Career Pay:$160,700% High Meaning:66%% STEM Degrees:58%
Rank:2School Name:Harvey Mudd CollegeSchool Type:Engineering, Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$93,100Mid-Career Pay:$160,600% High Meaning:54%% STEM Degrees:85%
Rank:3School Name:United States Military AcademySchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$84,800Mid-Career Pay:$158,100% High Meaning:65%% STEM Degrees:39%
Rank:4School Name:Claremont McKenna CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$73,800Mid-Career Pay:$150,000% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:16%
Rank:5School Name:United States Air Force AcademySchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$81,100Mid-Career Pay:$146,200% High Meaning:73%% STEM Degrees:43%
Rank:6School Name:Colgate UniversitySchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Party School, Private School, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$70,000Mid-Career Pay:$145,600% High Meaning:47%% STEM Degrees:26%
Rank:7School Name:Washington and Lee UniversitySchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$69,100Mid-Career Pay:$145,400% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:18%
Rank:8School Name:Williams CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$69,900Mid-Career Pay:$143,400% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:32%
Rank:9School Name:Bucknell UniversitySchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Party School, Private School, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$69,500Mid-Career Pay:$143,000% High Meaning:45%% STEM Degrees:40%
Rank:10School Name:Swarthmore CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$69,700Mid-Career Pay:$142,300% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:45%
Rank:11School Name:Haverford CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$63,700Mid-Career Pay:$141,900% High Meaning:57%% STEM Degrees:36%
Rank:12School Name:Amherst CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$68,100Mid-Career Pay:$139,800% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:32%
Rank:13School Name:Wabash CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$66,300Mid-Career Pay:$139,100% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:34%
Rank:14School Name:Pomona CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$69,100Mid-Career Pay:$137,800% High Meaning:54%% STEM Degrees:37%
Rank:15School Name:Lafayette CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private School, Religious, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$70,400Mid-Career Pay:$137,500% High Meaning:44%% STEM Degrees:47%
Rank:16School Name:Bowdoin CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$65,200Mid-Career Pay:$134,600% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:37%
Rank:16School Name:Union College (New York)School Type:Liberal Arts School, Party School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$66,600Mid-Career Pay:$134,600% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:47%
Rank:18School Name:Wesleyan UniversitySchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$64,600Mid-Career Pay:$134,000% High Meaning:55%% STEM Degrees:21%
Rank:19School Name:Bates CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$61,700Mid-Career Pay:$130,100% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:23%
Rank:19School Name:Franklin and Marshall CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$61,100Mid-Career Pay:$130,100% High Meaning:47%% STEM Degrees:23%
Rank:21School Name:Carleton CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$61,000Mid-Career Pay:$128,000% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:45%
Rank:22School Name:Virginia Military InstituteSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$68,700Mid-Career Pay:$127,500% High Meaning:66%% STEM Degrees:47%
Rank:23School Name:Davidson CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private School, Religious, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$61,700Mid-Career Pay:$127,400% High Meaning:53%% STEM Degrees:28%
Rank:24School Name:Middlebury CollegeSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolEarly Career Pay:$64,200Mid-Career Pay:$126,800% High Meaning:54%% STEM Degrees:19%
Rank:25School Name:College of the Holy CrossSchool Type:Liberal Arts School, Private School, Religious, For Sports FansEarly Career Pay:$64,000Mid-Career Pay:$126,200% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:24%

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College Student

Liberal arts schools are schools that graduate fewer STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) and pre-professional majors, focusing instead on humanities, arts, sciences and communication programs. These schools are usually private institutions, but some public schools do fall into this category. Liberal arts colleges usually have smaller enrollments and students get to work more closely with professors. The schools on this list generally have much smaller student-to-faculty ratios than many other types of schools. The College Salary Report is an excellent resource for anybody who is considering applying to or attending a liberal arts college or university, but wants to find out how much their alumni earn.

Liberal arts schools sometimes get criticized because their graduates don’t make as much money as alumni from schools that graduate many STEM majors, especially in the first few years out of college. However, the critical thinking skills associated with the liberal arts are valuable to employers, and many liberal arts graduates go on to earn very respectable salaries later in their career.

Harvey Mudd College, which is regularly at or near the top PayScale’s College Salary Report and College ROI Report, falls into the liberal arts category even though most of its graduates (more than 80 percent) graduate with degrees in science, technology, engineering and/or mathematics. Despite the heavy focus on STEM subjects, Harvey Mudd requires all of their students to take enough liberal arts classes to qualify for this classification. (Most liberal arts schools award less than 20 percent of their total degrees in STEM subjects.)

You might also be surprised that the United States’ top military schools, including the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis, Military Academy at West Point and Air Force Academy, also qualify as Liberal Arts colleges because of their well-rounded curriculum.

Many of the most famous private liberal arts schools in the country also produce alumni with some of the highest salaries in the country. Colgate University, Swarthmore College, Williams College, Occidental College, Carleton College and Pomona College are excellent examples of liberal arts colleges that don’t just have amazing academic opportunities, but prepare students well for successful careers.