PayScale’s 2015-16 College Salary Report Press Highlights - Undergrad Success

PayScale’s 2015-16 College Salary Report Press Highlights

PayScale’s 2015-16 College Salary Report Press Highlights


This year PayScale reports on salary data for alumni of a total of 1,519 schools broken down by the following degree levels:

  • Associate degrees (468 institutions)
  • Bachelor’s degrees only – alumni who go on to receive advanced degrees NOT included (1,034 institutions)
  • Bachelor’s degrees, including alumni who go on to earn advanced degrees (1,062 institutions)
  • Graduate degrees (417 institutions)
  • Master’s degrees (372 institutions)
  • PhDs (66 institutions)
  • MBAs (233 institutions)
  • JDs (51 institutions)

PayScale also reports on salary data for alumni with the following majors and degree levels:

  • 142 majors at the associate level
  • 319 majors at the bachelor’s level
  • 288 graduate-level degrees (master’s, PhD and MBA)

* Data included for law schools largely covers those who are employed at second-tier law firms or in public law due to standardized salaries at top tier law firms


Associate, Bachelor’s and Graduate Schools

  • There’s a new school this year topping the list for bachelor’s-only graduates, ranked by alumni mid-career median salary. SUNY – Maritime College, a small public college in New York State, reported a median mid-career alumni income of $134,000 per year, beating Harvey Mudd College by $1,000. Harvey Mudd has held the top spot for the last two years. SUNY – Maritime College still comes out on top for median mid-career salary of bachelor’s graduates when we include those who go on to earn advanced degrees.
  • Graduates of Emory University’s School of Law earn the highest median mid-career salary overall ($201,000) of any school included in the College Salary Report. This relatively small private school in Atlanta, Georgia beats out much more well-known law schools, including UCLA ($199,000), Georgetown ($188,000) and Harvard ($186,000).
  • Brand-name MBAs also lead to some of the highest salaries in this year’s report. Harvard Business School alumni earn a median mid-career salary of $190,000; edging out Wharton (UPenn) MBA alum ($182,000) and Stanford Business School alumni ($175,000).
  • Median earnings for graduates from master’s and PhD programs at public universities lag significantly behind earnings for graduates from private not-for-profit schools.
  • When ranking 2-year schools, median school ranking for public schools is nearly 15 percent higher than private for-profit schools, and nearly 25 percent higher than private not-for-profit schools.

Mo’ Money Mo’ STEM Degrees

  • The median percentage of STEM graduates for a given school decreases significantly as you go down the bachelor’s only list. The median percentage of STEM graduates for schools ranked 1 through 20 is 42.5 percent. The median for schools ranked 21 through 50 is 29 percent. The median for schools with a ranking above 50 is 11 percent.
  • Schools ranked in the top 50 master’s schools have a median of 37 percent STEM graduates. Schools ranked below the top 50 have a median of 11 percent STEM graduates.

Gender Plays a Role

  • Male students are the majority at top-ranked schools: Only 45 percent of all students from schools ranked in the top 50 master’s schools are women, whereas 57 percent of students from schools ranked below the top 50 are women. Similar patterns are also present in 4-year colleges, MBA level schools and PhD level schools (IPEDS Data).

Major Matters Most

  • Thirteen out of the top 15 ranked bachelor’s majors are engineering-focused. Out of the 26 total bachelor’s engineering majors, 24 are ranked in the top 50.
  • Advanced degrees can pay off big time – if you choose wisely. Twenty-five percent of the 201 master’s level majors have mid-career median pay numbers above $100,000, but all are STEM subjects.
  • Don’t assume that the arts are a lost cause. People who earn a bachelor’s degree in industrial design are the highest-paid arts majors (mid-career median salary: $84,500).
  • A bachelor’s degree in philosophy leads to the highest median mid-career salary of any humanities degree in our study ($85,000).
  • An associate degree in child development nets the lowest salary potential of any degree or subject major – just $30,000 per year with 10 or more years of experience.

The Right School for the Right Major

  • Five of the top 10 schools for art majors are public colleges.
  • The Haas School of Business at UC Berkeley produces the highest-earning alumni with a bachelor’s in business (and no higher degrees) by both early career ($72,800) and mid-career ($140,000) measurements.
  • The most highly-paid software engineers don’t necessarily attend school in the Silicon Valley. UC Santa Barbara produces the highest-paid computer science majors with 10 or more years of experience ($147,000), and Columbia University produces the highest-paid alumni with five or fewer years of experience ($98,900). UC Berkeley comes in second place by both counts.
  • The highest-paid humanities majors almost all come from private colleges, including Tufts, Duke, UPenn and Columbia. UC Berkeley is the only public college on the top 10 list of schools for humanities majors by earning potential. Similarly, the 10 colleges with the most highly-paid social science majors are all private schools.


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