Best Liberal Arts Colleges by Salary Potential

Love the arts and humanities, but afraid you won’t get a high-paying career? Learn more about liberal arts schools 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, Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$88,800$158,20055%85%

1Harvey Mudd College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$88,800
Mid-Career Pay$158,200
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees85%
2Engineering, Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$80,100$152,80064%58%

2United States Naval Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$80,100
Mid-Career Pay$152,800
% High Meaning64%
% STEM Degrees58%
3Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$80,200$144,00061%39%

3United States Military Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$80,200
Mid-Career Pay$144,000
% High Meaning61%
% STEM Degrees39%
4Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$76,300$138,10069%43%

4United States Air Force Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$76,300
Mid-Career Pay$138,100
% High Meaning69%
% STEM Degrees43%
5Liberal Arts School, Party School, Private School, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$68,400$130,60041%26%

5Colgate University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$68,400
Mid-Career Pay$130,600
% High Meaning41%
% STEM Degrees26%
6Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$67,500$127,50047%32%

6Williams College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$67,500
Mid-Career Pay$127,500
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees32%
7Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$68,500$125,40043%16%

7Claremont McKenna College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$68,500
Mid-Career Pay$125,400
% High Meaning43%
% STEM Degrees16%
8Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$65,900$123,20040%18%

8Washington and Lee University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$65,900
Mid-Career Pay$123,200
% High Meaning40%
% STEM Degrees18%
8Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$67,500$123,20044%45%

8Swarthmore College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$67,500
Mid-Career Pay$123,200
% High Meaning44%
% STEM Degrees45%
10Liberal Arts School, Party School, Private School, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$66,700$122,90040%40%

10Bucknell University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$66,700
Mid-Career Pay$122,900
% High Meaning40%
% STEM Degrees40%
11Liberal Arts School, Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$66,500$122,50037%47%

11Lafayette College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$66,500
Mid-Career Pay$122,500
% High Meaning37%
% STEM Degrees47%
12Liberal Arts School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$65,900$120,60068%47%

12Virginia Military Institute
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$65,900
Mid-Career Pay$120,600
% High Meaning68%
% STEM Degrees47%
13Liberal Arts School, Party School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$63,300$117,50050%47%

13Union College (New York)
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$63,300
Mid-Career Pay$117,500
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees47%
14Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$63,800$117,20047%37%

14Pomona College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$63,800
Mid-Career Pay$117,200
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees37%
15Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$61,600$117,00053%21%

15Wesleyan University
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$61,600
Mid-Career Pay$117,000
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees21%
16Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$63,800$116,50045%32%

16Amherst College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$63,800
Mid-Career Pay$116,500
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees32%
17Liberal Arts School, Private School, Religious, For Sports FansBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$61,800$114,60046%24%

17College of the Holy Cross
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$61,800
Mid-Career Pay$114,600
% High Meaning46%
% STEM Degrees24%
18Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$62,200$114,40040%34%

18Wabash College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$62,200
Mid-Career Pay$114,400
% High Meaning40%
% STEM Degrees34%
19Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$59,300$112,30047%36%

19Haverford College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$59,300
Mid-Career Pay$112,300
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees36%
20Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$61,300$112,00054%37%

20Bowdoin College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$61,300
Mid-Career Pay$112,000
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees37%
21Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$59,500$111,90050%23%

21Bates College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$59,500
Mid-Career Pay$111,900
% High Meaning50%
% STEM Degrees23%
22Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$60,100$110,90049%22%

22Trinity College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$60,100
Mid-Career Pay$110,900
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees22%
23Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$58,800$109,90047%45%

23Carleton College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$58,800
Mid-Career Pay$109,900
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees45%
24Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$59,200$109,80057%19%

24Barnard College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$59,200
Mid-Career Pay$109,800
% High Meaning57%
% STEM Degrees19%
24Liberal Arts School, Private SchoolBachelorsPrivate not-for-profit$60,400$109,80054%19%

24Middlebury College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPrivate not-for-profit
Early Career Pay$60,400
Mid-Career Pay$109,800
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees19%
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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.


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