If you’re trying to find a college, you’re probably focused on the average cost of tuition. But maybe you shouldn’t be.

Instead, perhaps you should focus on the average salary of college graduates from the schools you are considering.

The 2009 PayScale College Salary Report says that Dartmouth College graduates have the highest mid-career median salary, at $129,000. Loma Linda University alumni have the highest median starting salary, at $71,400.

Here are the 20 US colleges and universities that produce graduates with the highest mid-career salaries. In the case of a tie, the college with the higher median starting salary received a higher ranking.

Colleges and Universities

Mid-Career Median Salary

1. Dartmouth College


2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology


3. Harvard University


4. Harvey Mudd College


5. Stanford University


6. Princeton University


7. Colgate University


8. University of Notre Dame


9. Yale University


10. University of Pennsylvania


11. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute


12. Duke University


13. Bucknell University


14. California Institute of Technology


15. Polytechnic University of New York, Brooklyn


16. Lehigh University


17. Carnegie Mellon University


18. University of California, Berkeley


19. Santa Clara University


20. Georgetown University


Of course, the salary you can expect depends on more than simply the college from which you graduate. Your career plays a major role in your salary. For better or worse, the average salary of an engineer will probably be higher than the average salary of an elementary school teacher no matter either of their alma maters.

Still, the best college deal may come from average salary statistics, not tuition statistics. Neither will measure a college graduate’s happiness with a chosen field, but it can’t hurt!

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    • Lynn M
    • August 03, 2009
    • Reply

    I agree wtih all the points you made. #1 choose your field based on your interest, skills, talents, passions. You’ll only be truly successful if you like what you do. #2 Don’t overburden yourself with loans that will be difficult to pay back if your starting salary is bound to be low (based on the field you go into). #3 There are so many things to consider when choosing a college. It is worth a look at these statistics but it shouldn’t be the top reason for attending the college. Your readers may want to check out this post for some helpful hints on narrowing down college choices: http://blog.mycollegecalendar.org/2009/07/tips-for-choosing-right-college.html

    • John A.
    • March 02, 2010
    • Reply

    The top 20 colleges only differ in salaries in a range of about 10 grand, which doesnt really mean anything. The average college grad pulls in around 40 grand a year, but an engineering graduate, from MIT makes +120K. Wow.

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