Best Research Universities by Salary Potential

Everyone wants to choose a degree that will afford them a successful career. Success means different things to different people, but a decent paycheck doesn’t hurt. Learn more about research universities with the highest-paid graduates.

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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, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$80,900$156,70062%51%

1Stanford University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$80,900
Mid-Career Pay$156,700
% High Meaning62%
% STEM Degrees51%
2Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$86,800$156,50057%69%

2Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$86,800
Mid-Career Pay$156,500
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees69%
3Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$75,300$151,60056%19%

3Harvard University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$75,300
Mid-Career Pay$151,600
% High Meaning56%
% STEM Degrees19%
4Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$87,300$150,80054%96%

4California Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$87,300
Mid-Career Pay$150,800
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees96%
5Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$74,500$147,80053%45%

5Princeton University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$74,500
Mid-Career Pay$147,800
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees45%
6Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$70,800$147,50049%35%

6Dartmouth College
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$70,800
Mid-Career Pay$147,500
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees35%
7Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$72,300$146,30059%20%

7Yale University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$72,300
Mid-Career Pay$146,300
% High Meaning59%
% STEM Degrees20%
8Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$72,900$145,20046%21%

8University of Pennsylvania
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$72,900
Mid-Career Pay$145,200
% High Meaning46%
% STEM Degrees21%
9Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$71,200$142,80054%26%

9Duke University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$71,200
Mid-Career Pay$142,800
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees26%
10Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$74,900$142,40049%79%

10Stevens Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$74,900
Mid-Career Pay$142,400
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees79%
11Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$74,700$141,10060%93%

11Colorado School of Mines
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$74,700
Mid-Career Pay$141,100
% High Meaning60%
% STEM Degrees93%
12Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$69,900$140,10051%36%

12University of California-Berkeley
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$69,900
Mid-Career Pay$140,100
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees36%
13Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$65,700$140,00046%14%

13Georgetown University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$65,700
Mid-Career Pay$140,000
% High Meaning46%
% STEM Degrees14%
14Engineering, Party School, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$68,800$138,90047%52%

14Lehigh University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$68,800
Mid-Career Pay$138,900
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees52%
15Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$67,400$138,00051%42%

15Brown University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$67,400
Mid-Career Pay$138,000
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees42%
15Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$73,200$138,00052%86%

15Worcester Polytechnic Institute
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$73,200
Mid-Career Pay$138,000
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees86%
17Private School, Religious, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$67,200$137,30050%28%

17University of Notre Dame
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$67,200
Mid-Career Pay$137,300
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees28%
18Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$75,500$136,30048%66%

18Carnegie Mellon University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$75,500
Mid-Career Pay$136,300
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees66%
19Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$71,200$136,10049%78%

19Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$71,200
Mid-Career Pay$136,100
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees78%
20Engineering, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$71,800$135,50048%80%

20Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$71,800
Mid-Career Pay$135,500
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees80%
21Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$70,500$134,70050%43%

21Rice University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$70,500
Mid-Career Pay$134,700
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees43%
22Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$71,000$134,60047%30%

22Columbia University in the City of New York
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$71,000
Mid-Career Pay$134,600
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees30%
23Engineering, Private School, Research UniversityBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$66,700$134,30062%58%

23Clarkson University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$66,700
Mid-Career Pay$134,300
% High Meaning62%
% STEM Degrees58%
24Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsAndHigherPublic$63,100$133,30055%58%

24University of California-San Diego
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,100
Mid-Career Pay$133,300
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees58%
25Ivy League, Private School, Research University, For Sports FansBachelorsAndHigherPrivate not-for-profit$70,500$132,70049%43%

25Cornell University
Degree TypeBachelorsAndHigher
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$70,500
Mid-Career Pay$132,700
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees43%
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Research Universities are ones that award at least 20 PhDs per year and dedicate a portion of resources to academic research. Even though these schools place a lot of emphasis on graduate education, they can be a fantastic choice for undergraduate students seeking only a bachelor’s degree as well. To help you choose a research university that will prepare you for a successful career, PayScale’s College Salary Report ranks research universities by the median salaries of their alumni.

It’s notable that schools on this list grant a variety of degrees, not just those in the lucrative science, technology, engineering and math (STEM) categories.If you sort the list by early career salaries, you will see that schools with the most STEM degrees dominate the list. This illustrates the fact that STEM careers can be very lucrative, but people in non-STEM careers often take longer to reach their earning potential and settle into a career.


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