10 State Universities with the Top Earning Graduates

Feb 09, 2009

There are many factors that can affect your post-graduation salary potential, including the type of degree, your major, where you live and even the school you attended. But expensive Ivy League schools aren't the only institutions that offer the possibility of high earnings. Read on to discover the 10 public universities with the highest-earning graduates.

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High Salary Potential

Each year PayScale.com conducts a survey of 1.4 million full-time, civilian employees who have only a bachelor's degree and are employed in the 50 United States. One of the lists generated from this survey is a ranking of the top state schools by salary potential. Read on to find out more about 10 public schools whose graduates went on to earn the big bucks as of 2013-14.

1. United States Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis

  • Starting median salary: $77,100
  • Mid-career median salary: $131,000

USNA is a 4-year, undergraduate college for enlisted U.S. Navy and Marine Corps servicemen and women. Students receive a Bachelor of Science degree upon graduation and then commission as ensigns for the Navy or second lieutenants in the Marine Corps. These service members also continue to serve in the military for five years beyond graduation. The program's focus is to prepare service members to be officers, but students do study engineering, science, humanities and social science.

2. United States Military Academy (USMA) at West Point

  • Starting median salary: $74,000
  • Mid-career median salary: $120,000

USMA at West Point is a training academy and 4-year university located in West Point, NY. This school enrolls about 4500 students and is intended for those who plan to enroll in the Army. USMA cadets can major in a variety of areas and graduate with a Bachelor of Science. Graduates are also commissioned as second lieutenants.

3. State University of New York (SUNY) Maritime College

  • Starting median salary: $59,400
  • Mid-career median salary: $116,000

SUNY Maritime is located in Throggs Neck, part of Bronx County, NY. This public university offers undergraduate and master's degrees in science and engineering with a maritime focus. Students can also earn licensure as a third officer for the Merchant Marine, which qualifies graduates for a variety of off-shore and on-shore jobs in the maritime industry. SUNY Maritime students also graduate with the ability to sail on ocean-going vessels.

4. University of California, Berkeley (UC Berkeley)

  • Starting median salary: $54,700
  • Mid-career median salary: $111,000

One of the flagship universities of the public University of California system, UC Berkeley is located on the east side of the San Francisco Bay. It confers bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees in 14 different colleges and schools, ranging from the famous Haas School of Business to the College of Letters and Science, School of Information and beyond.

5. (tie) United States Air Force Academy (USAFA)

  • Starting median salary: $64,900
  • Mid-career median salary: $109,000

USAFA, located in Colorado Springs, CO, is the military academy for the Air Force. Students who attend this school graduate with a Bachelor of Science degree and a commission as a second lieutenant. Sixty percent of graduates get degrees in science and engineering, but there are over 31 majors to choose from.

5. (tie) Virginia Military Institute (VMI)

  • Starting median salary: $54,200
  • Mid-career median salary: $109,000

VMI, located in Lexington, Virginia, is another military college that offers a 4-year degree along with military training. Unlike other similar schools, graduates are not required to enlist in the military after graduation. The top majors studied by 2012 graduates were economics, international relations, history and psychology.

7. Georgia Institute of Technology

  • Starting median salary: $60,700
  • Mid-career median salary: $108,000

Situated in the thriving metropolis of Atlanta, GA, Georgia Tech is consistently ranked among the top ten public universities in the country by U.S. News & World Report. It serves over 20,000 students at the undergraduate and graduate levels. Although Georgia Tech's primary focus is on science and technology, with schools in such subjects as engineering, computing and science, it also offers liberal arts studies in areas like literature, economics and international affairs.

8. Colorado School of Mines

  • Starting median salary: $66,700
  • Mid-career median salary: $106,000

The Colorado School of Mines, known simply as Mines, is a public research university located in Golden, CO, outside of Denver. Mines offers degrees in applied science and engineering with a focus on energy, the environment and responsible methods for extracting and utilizing resources from the earth. It is also one of the most competitive public colleges in the country.

9. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

  • Starting median salary: $54,700
  • Mid-career median salary: $102,000

Nestled in Buzzards Bay, MA, the Massachusetts Maritime Academy (MMA) combines a highly disciplined environment with strong academic and leadership training. Students can earn a Bachelor of Science (B.S.) or Master of Science (M.S.) in a variety of maritime industry fields, including international maritime business, marine engineering and emergency management, as well as an optional merchant marine officer's license or naval officer's commission.

10. University of California, San Diego (UCSD)

  • Starting median salary: $49,300
  • Mid-Career Median Salary: $101,000

The University of California, San Diego (UCSD) is another major institution in the University of California system. Located in southern California, UCSD also ranked as the 9th best public university nationwide, according to the 2014 rankings by U.S. News & World Report. It confers hundreds of bachelor's, master's and doctoral degrees through ten different schools and divisions, including international relations, oceanography, pharmaceutical sciences and engineering.

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