There are many reasons why students would want to head to college after graduating from high school, such as learning more about a specific subject, getting a better job and earning more money after graduation. Likewise, there are also many factors as to why a person would want to go back to college later on in life if he or she didn't have the opportunity to complete higher education when at a younger age.
Whether it's to have a unique experience, broaden your mind, or simply earn your degree, in general, most people choose to go to college so that they can have more job opportunities in the future. And, if those job opportunities are high-paying, then all the better, especially since college tuition in the United States is extremely expensive. If your main objective is to earn a lot of money once you graduate with your degree, then consider applying to a big college where graduates reportedly earn the highest average salaries in the nation.
Interested in learning more? Read on for the top 20 colleges. To dig into the numbers, read our methodology and study on Big Colleges Where Graduates Earn the Most Money.
1. University of California, Berkeley
Graduates of the University of California, Berkeley are some of the highest earning in the country. With an average salary of $82,000 among alumni according to Payscale.com, it's no wonder why students would want to start their higher education journey here. Not only that, but those alumni who are at a mid-career salary level have reported earning an average salary of $136,900. While the career outlook is promising, this school can be rather difficult to get into. Therefore, high school students should continue to work hard in order to make their application stand out when it comes time to apply for school.
2. University of Maryland, College Park
The University of Maryland, College Park took a survey of 1,826 graduates in 2017 to understand more about the average salaries these former students were earning upon entering the job market. What they found was out of these graduates, those in the 25th percentile made an average of $35,871, those in the 50th percentile made an average of $52,608 and those in the 75th percentile made a high average of $64,947. Best of all, 91 percent of the 1,643 students that completed the survey said that the job they got upon graduation was either directly aligned to or at least a foot in the door leading to the career path they desired.
3. Virginia Polytechnic Institute State University
Graduates of the Virginia Polytechnic Institute State University, otherwise known as "Virginia Tech," reportedly make an average of $72,000 in their first job, according to Payscale.com. The average early career salary is $58,000, and the average mid-career salary, for those with a few years of experience under their belt after graduation, is $110,200. Located in Blacksburg, Virginia, those who graduate from this school have a promising future to look forward to.
4. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
The annual report published by the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor outlines detailed information regarding the salary of both of the school's bachelor's and master's students after graduation. For engineering bachelor's graduates of the 2016 to 2017 class, the average salary was $77,976, and for graduate students of the same major, the average salary was $85,992. The lowest average salary was for government/military bachelor's graduates, at $58,235, while the highest-earning was for retail bachelor's students at $99,484.
5. New York University
The 2016 graduates of New York University have helped the school make headlines for their record-breaking, top-earning salaries. The average salary for graduates in 2016 was $61,478 according to NYU's website. Those who graduated from NYU's Rory Meyers College of Nursing were the highest-earning graduates with an average salary of $88,995. The lowest earning were graduates from the Tandon School of Engineering, who earned an average salary of $65,200.
6. University of California, Los Angeles
Students who attend the University of California, Los Angeles will have many programs to choose from, whether they are starting as an undergraduate or a doctorate student. Of course, the average salary based on degree ranges quite a bit, but it's still high across the board. According to emolument.com, graduates with a bachelor's degree from UCLA earn anywhere between $83,000 and $85,000 on average, with master's graduates earning an average of $101,000.
7. University of California, San Diego
The University of California, San Diego, also known as UCSD, had their graduates earning a bit less than graduates of UCLA. Salaries were still high compared to graduates from other schools throughout the rest of the country. The overall average starting salary for graduates was $51,463. Yet, those who graduated with a bachelor's in a technology major earned an average salary that was much higher, at $70,069.
8. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
According to the 2016-2017 Annual Report released by the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, graduates are doing quite well in terms of job placement and salary. As the data suggests, 63 percent of full-time employed respondents who were recent alumni of the school, were able to give details about their salary. Based on their information, the average salary of graduates from all programs at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign was $59,494. The highest average salary was $75,450, and that number belongs to graduates of the engineering program.
9. Brigham Young University
Brigham Young University attracts many students for its nationally-recognized sports programs as well as its commitment to religion. But, it's not just these factors that make this school unique. It's also the success in academia that makes this college just as desirable for young students who want a comfortable living upon graduation. After all, according to Payscale.com, graduates of Brigham Young University make an average salary of $72,000, with the average mid-career salary as high as $114,400.
10. Rutgers University, New Brunswick
There are many different majors that students can choose from at Rutgers University in New Brunswick, New Jersey. Depending on which major you choose to pursue while you're in school and eventually earn your degree in, your salary may be higher or lower than the median starting salary of graduates here, which is $55,000. For example, students who graduated from the Ernest Mario School of Pharmacy had a median starting salary of $114,000, while those from the Mason Gross School of the Arts has a median starting salary of $35,000. Either way, the outlook isn't too bad for graduates here.
11. University of California, Davis
Graduates of University of California, Davis, otherwise known as UC Davis, reported earning an average salary of $74,000, according to Payscale.com. The salary averages range from an early career salary at $57,700 to the mid-career salary at a high $116,300. This is just one of the many University of California schools that each offer diverse study options for students, especially for those who are looking to make a lot of money when they graduate.
12. Texas A&M University, College Station
Texas A&M, like NYU, is another big college that has made headlines for the salaries earned by their graduates. In fact, this school was number one in Texas for highest average salary rates among graduates in the entire state, at $99,700 for mid-career alumni as of 2017. Not only that, but Texas A&M University, College Station made similar ranks a few years in a row.
13. University of California, Irvine
The University of California, Irvine, commonly referred to as UCI, has high median salaries to report, depending on how long a particular graduate has been out of school. Those who are two years out have reported an annual median salary of $39,435. Alumni who have been out of school for five years have reported an annual median salary of $54,472, while graduates who have been out of school for 10 years have reported earning $74,856 on average.
14. Purdue University, Main Campus
Purdue University, Main Campus reports the average salaries of their alumni by combining the earnings of graduate students from both bachelor's and professional degree programs together. Therefore, it's a bit difficult to get an accurate number since the majors are so varied and bachelor's and master's students can earn very different salaries. That being said, emolument.com reports that the average salary of Purdue graduates is $80,000. For more specific information based on major and degree level, visit Purdue's website.
15. The University of Texas at Austin
Information regarding the average salary of graduates of the University of Texas at Austin comes from the Class of 2016 School of Information Employment Report released by the school itself. Based on this report, the average salary of all jobs in this sector (Information) was $62,000 at the higher end of the scale. However, it's not entirely clear what graduates of other programs made, though Payscale.com reports the average salary at $72,000 among all majors.
16. University of Washington, Seattle Campus
The University of Washington, Seattle Campus has information about where many of their graduates end up after college but it does not report individual information on salaries. That being said, according to information at Payscale.com, the job outlook looks quite promising for future students. It states that the average salary of University of Washington's graduates is at $73,000, and ranges from $57,300 as an early career salary to $108,800 for the mid-career level average salary.
17. University of Wisconsin, Madison
The University of Wisconsin, Madison is another popular choice for students who want to go to a big college with an even bigger sports following. But, it's also a great school for those who want to make a nice salary upon graduating from college. According to Payscale.com, the average salary for graduates of this school is at $53,400 for early career pay and $98,400 for mid-career pay.
18. San Jose State University
The average salary for graduates of San Jose State University is quite high, according to Payscale.com. Graduates from this California college have reported an average salary of $81,000. The average salaries range, though, with the early career average salary at $58,500, and the mid-career level average salary at $108,700.
19. University of Florida
The University of Florida is a large school with approximately 37,000 undergraduates, all of whom represent the famed Florida Gators. This school has a great reputation for students who want to quickly earn the money back that they initially put into their college education (and then some), as this school ranks high in terms of ROI. This is probably because the average salary of graduates from the University of Florida is $70,000, according to Payscale.com
20. University of California, Santa Barbara
The University of California and its numerous branches certainly have a good reputation when it comes to making sure their alumni are taken care of. According to Payscale.com, the average salary of the University of California, Santa Barbara is up there with other University of California schools, at $74,000. The USBC website has more specific information regarding average salaries of graduates based on their major, however, it has not been updated since 2015.