Best Public Universities by Salary Potential

Want a great education without the high costs of a private university? Learn more about the top public schools with the highest-earning 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, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$78,600$149,80065%58%

1United States Naval Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$78,600
Mid-Career Pay$149,800
% High Meaning65%
% STEM Degrees58%
2Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$79,300$141,90063%39%

2United States Military Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$79,300
Mid-Career Pay$141,900
% High Meaning63%
% STEM Degrees39%
3State SchoolBachelorsPublic$73,300$140,10055%32%

3SUNY Maritime College
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$73,300
Mid-Career Pay$140,100
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees32%
4Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$74,100$139,30060%93%

4Colorado School of Mines
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$74,100
Mid-Career Pay$139,300
% High Meaning60%
% STEM Degrees93%
5Liberal Arts School, Sober School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$74,000$137,30069%43%

5United States Air Force Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$74,000
Mid-Career Pay$137,300
% High Meaning69%
% STEM Degrees43%
6Engineering, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$80,800$136,60064%56%

6United States Merchant Marine Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$80,800
Mid-Career Pay$136,600
% High Meaning64%
% STEM Degrees56%
7Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$68,300$132,30049%36%

7University of California-Berkeley
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$68,300
Mid-Career Pay$132,300
% High Meaning49%
% STEM Degrees36%
8Engineering, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$70,800$131,90048%80%

8Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$70,800
Mid-Career Pay$131,900
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees80%
9State SchoolBachelorsPublic$67,500$129,10055%15%

9California State University Maritime Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$67,500
Mid-Career Pay$129,100
% High Meaning55%
% STEM Degrees15%
10Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$61,300$126,80052%58%

10University of California-San Diego
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$61,300
Mid-Career Pay$126,800
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees58%
11Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$57,700$121,80048%33%

11University of California-Irvine
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$57,700
Mid-Career Pay$121,800
% High Meaning48%
% STEM Degrees33%
12Liberal Arts School, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$63,900$121,60068%47%

12Virginia Military Institute
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,900
Mid-Career Pay$121,600
% High Meaning68%
% STEM Degrees47%
13Engineering, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$62,500$121,50062%91%

13New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$62,500
Mid-Career Pay$121,500
% High Meaning62%
% STEM Degrees91%
13Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$57,300$121,50047%29%

13University of California-Santa Barbara
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$57,300
Mid-Career Pay$121,500
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees29%
15Engineering, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$62,800$121,10052%75%

15New Jersey Institute of Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$62,800
Mid-Career Pay$121,100
% High Meaning52%
% STEM Degrees75%
16Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$62,300$119,90046%23%

16University of Virginia-Main Campus
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$62,300
Mid-Career Pay$119,900
% High Meaning46%
% STEM Degrees23%
16State SchoolBachelorsPublic$66,700$119,90066%48%

16Maine Maritime Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$66,700
Mid-Career Pay$119,900
% High Meaning66%
% STEM Degrees48%
18Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$60,000$118,50047%31%

18University of California-Los Angeles
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$60,000
Mid-Career Pay$118,500
% High Meaning47%
% STEM Degrees31%
19For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$63,500$118,00051%38%

19California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$63,500
Mid-Career Pay$118,000
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees38%
20Engineering, Research University, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$66,700$116,40051%80%

20Missouri University of Science and Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$66,700
Mid-Career Pay$116,400
% High Meaning51%
% STEM Degrees80%
21Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$59,000$115,90053%30%

21Texas A & M University-College Station
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$59,000
Mid-Career Pay$115,900
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees30%
22State SchoolBachelorsPublic$67,200$114,60054%47%

22Massachusetts Maritime Academy
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$67,200
Mid-Career Pay$114,600
% High Meaning54%
% STEM Degrees47%
23Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$61,000$113,80045%36%

23University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$61,000
Mid-Career Pay$113,800
% High Meaning45%
% STEM Degrees36%
23Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$59,400$113,80053%35%

23University of California-Davis
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$59,400
Mid-Career Pay$113,800
% High Meaning53%
% STEM Degrees35%
25Engineering, State SchoolBachelorsPublic$65,800$113,70058%92%

25South Dakota School of Mines and Technology
Degree TypeBachelors
School SectorPublic
Early Career Pay$65,800
Mid-Career Pay$113,700
% High Meaning58%
% STEM Degrees92%
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When students are looking for a college education that won’t break the bank, they often think first of public universities. PayScale has ranked hundreds of public colleges by alumni salaries so that you can research how successful alumni of public colleges and universities are and how much they earn, and apply at the top public colleges with the highest-paid alumni.

Home to roughly 1,500 students, SUNY Maritime is the perfect recipe for high alumni salaries because it has both strong business and engineering programs. As a result, SUNY Maritime graduates enjoy some of the highest median salaries in both the early career salary and mid-career salary categories when we include alumni who only earn a bachelor’s degree.

Military schools top the list for schools with the highest-earning grads in the civilian workforce; the United States Naval Academy (USMA) at Annapolis and United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point. If military grads need another thing to be proud of, they should definitely take pride in their earning potential.

Other military colleges that produce high earners are the United States Air Force Academy and the Virginia Military Academy. It is important to note that we do not include salary data for alumni serving actively in the military, as that is standardized. Students at military colleges get valuable experience as active military members, so it makes sense that they then enter the workforce at higher salary grades than civilian grads.

There are many public colleges and universities with strong engineering programs that rank highly on PayScale’s College Salary Report. The Georgia Institute of Technology is recognized nationally for its excellent engineering programs, and as a result often ranks in the top 10. The University of California at Berkeley produces high earners too, even though it does not focus exclusively on engineering.

Public schools that graduate a large percentage of STEM (science, technology, engineering and math) majors tend to have alumni with high earning potential, especially for early career salaries, because graduates with those skills are immediately in high demand in our current economy.


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