Private institutions are leading the way, but some online, public, and for-profit schools are proving equally competitive.
A student coming out of Harvard with a computer science degree will earn on average just over $140,000 to start. A major in political science at Dartmouth will bring in around $57,000 in that first job. And a finance major at Georgetown will get about $84,000.
More importantly, they will all rank in the 99e percentile against peers in these fields, according to the Salary Score metric developed by groundbreaking researchers at OnlineU, which provides a deep dive into the data that matters most to students and, therefore, higher education institutions .
The latest offering from Optimal’s “anti-US News & World Report” researchers not only gives discerning students a chance to investigate the best of the best colleges and universities in terms of return on investment, but also gives a window to these institutions to assess the extent to which their programs offer well-paid positions when they enter the job market.
The Ivys are doing pretty well. Led by Harvard at No. 1, five of the prestigious institutions ranked in this year’s Top 10, including Dartmouth at No. 3, Yale at No. 4 and Penn at No. 7. Columbia (11), Princeton (16 ) and Cornell (23) also made the top 50. But browse expected mainstays like Massachusetts Institute of Technology at No. 2, and there are several surprises, including for-profit schools, online schools, and, yes, state-funded institutions. For-profit companies beat private and public companies overall on salary score, by 6.5 and 22.5 percentage points, respectively.
“This year’s rankings show that online colleges continue to make inroads over on-campus schools, delivering competitive salary outcomes,” said Optimal CEO Sung Rhee. “Additionally, we found that some public schools have salary results consistent with those of Ivy League graduates.”
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Although the list gleaned from information from the Department of Education’s college dashboard contains some audiences, only two make it into the Top 20: Thomas Edison State University in New Jersey at No. 14 and the University of California at Berkeley at No. 17. Private four-year institutions dominate the Top 10 and include Georgetown (5), Carnegie-Mellon (6), Santa Clara University (8), Boston College (9), and Stanford ( 10). And they also feature prominently in the rest of that top half: Bentley (12), Colgate (13), Williams (15), Barnard (18), Bucknell (19), the University of Chicago (20), the University of San Francisco (21), University of Notre Dame (22), Northeastern (24) and Lehigh (25).
Then it gets interesting. At No. 26 is the low-cost, for-profit American public university system in West Virginia. Health and physical education majors can earn nearly $48,000 a year to start, among the top 1% in the country, while its criminal justice majors are in the top 2% ($49,350). In fact, his overall salary score beat Brown and Northwestern. The private, nonprofit National University of California is second at No. 29, followed by the online, for-profit Capella University. Students studying Criminal Justice at National or Business Administration at Capella both earn in the top 1% of starting salaries nationwide. And each of them sniffed out Duke, Villanova, the University of Southern California and Georgia Tech.
As for the best of the remaining audiences, Cal Poly San Luis Obispo (37), Colorado State University Global Online (40), University of Minnesota at Crookston (44), and Cal State East Bay (49) offer a excellent return on investment for students. are just starting out in their work.
These names are a bit different from American News overall standings, and that’s the point, say Optimal executives. Adelphia University may not be competitive on teacher starting salaries, but it is in the top 1% in nursing ($91,000) and in business administration and education. communications. Its rating on OnlineU’s list is No. 39, while American News has it at No. 172. Stevens Institute of Technology in New Jersey is 35e on this list but only 83rd on American News. One look at Stevens’ specific programs and it’s clear why his top score is so high (top 1% in business administration and management and in the top 20% in starting salaries for computer science, biomedical engineering and mechanical engineering.
The biggest positive movers on this year’s list were Williams College, which jumped 19 places to No. 15; Brown University, which moved up 25 places to 27th; and Minnesota-Crookston, up 37 places to No. 44. Those who fell the most were two from the Northeast: Trinity College, which fell 24 places, and College of the Holy Cross, which fell 14 squares.