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
All Alumni
RankSchool NameSchool TypeEarly Career Pay
Mid-Career Pay
% High Meaning
% STEM Degrees
Rank:26School Name:Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State UniversitySchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$63,900Mid-Career Pay:$116,000% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:42%
Rank:27School Name:San Jose State UniversitySchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$64,800Mid-Career Pay:$115,900% High Meaning:54%% STEM Degrees:28%
Rank:28School Name:The University of Texas at AustinSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$62,100Mid-Career Pay:$115,600% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:28%
Rank:29School Name:University of Washington-Seattle CampusSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$63,300Mid-Career Pay:$115,400% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:34%
Rank:30School Name:South Dakota School of Mines and TechnologySchool Type:Engineering, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$68,500Mid-Career Pay:$115,300% High Meaning:56%% STEM Degrees:92%
Rank:31School Name:Rutgers University-New BrunswickSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$60,800Mid-Career Pay:$115,200% High Meaning:43%% STEM Degrees:29%
Rank:31School Name:William & MarySchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,600Mid-Career Pay:$115,200% High Meaning:44%% STEM Degrees:21%
Rank:33School Name:Binghamton UniversitySchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$61,800Mid-Career Pay:$115,100% High Meaning:45%% STEM Degrees:34%
Rank:34School Name:Michigan Technological UniversitySchool Type:Engineering, Research University, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$67,400Mid-Career Pay:$114,700% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:81%
Rank:35School Name:University of Colorado BoulderSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$58,600Mid-Career Pay:$114,600% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:39%
Rank:36School Name:California State Polytechnic University-PomonaSchool Type:State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$58,800Mid-Career Pay:$114,000% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:30%
Rank:37School Name:University of Maryland-College ParkSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$62,900Mid-Career Pay:$112,800% High Meaning:51%% STEM Degrees:33%
Rank:38School Name:University of Michigan-Ann ArborSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$65,900Mid-Career Pay:$112,300% High Meaning:45%% STEM Degrees:38%
Rank:39School Name:Miami University-OxfordSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$57,700Mid-Career Pay:$112,000% High Meaning:46%% STEM Degrees:22%
Rank:40School Name:CUNY Bernard M Baruch CollegeSchool Type:Business, Sober School, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,200Mid-Career Pay:$111,000% High Meaning:39%% STEM Degrees:8%
Rank:40School Name:Stony Brook UniversitySchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$60,100Mid-Career Pay:$111,000% High Meaning:50%% STEM Degrees:35%
Rank:42School Name:University of Massachusetts-LowellSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$60,000Mid-Career Pay:$110,700% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:35%
Rank:42School 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:44School Name:Citadel Military College of South CarolinaSchool Type:For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$60,700Mid-Career Pay:$110,400% High Meaning:65%% STEM Degrees:19%
Rank:45School Name:George Mason UniversitySchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,700Mid-Career Pay:$110,000% High Meaning:48%% STEM Degrees:23%
Rank:46School Name:University of DelawareSchool Type:Party School, Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$59,500Mid-Career Pay:$108,800% High Meaning:45%% STEM Degrees:22%
Rank:47School Name:California State University-ChicoSchool Type:State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$57,300Mid-Career Pay:$108,700% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:13%
Rank:48School Name:Purdue University-Main CampusSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$62,800Mid-Career Pay:$108,600% High Meaning:49%% STEM Degrees:38%
Rank:49School 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:50School Name:North Carolina State University at RaleighSchool Type:Research University, For Sports Fans, State SchoolEarly Career Pay:$58,600Mid-Career Pay:$108,300% High Meaning:52%% STEM Degrees:47%

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College Student

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.