Byte of Prevention Blog

by Jay Reeves |

20 Best Colleges For Making Money After Graduation

What can lawyers learn from reading the list of undergraduate colleges whose students earn the highest salaries after graduation?

For one thing, reputation matters. Many of the names – Harvard, MIT, Princeton and the service academies – are universally recognized as among the nation’s elite.

But prestige doesn’t tell the whole story. Only two Ivy League schools made the list, after all. And some schools that did make it are relatively unknown: Albany College of Pharmacy, for example, or the Colorado School of Mines. What these institutions may lack in glamour, they make up for by providing a specialized course of study that gives graduates a rare and valuable skillset.

Another lesson: size matters, but only to an extent. Some of the schools have 20,000 or more students. Others have only hundreds.

In fact, there’s only one thing all of the colleges on the 2018 Payscale rankings have in common: they are true to themselves. They know who they are and what they do. They don’t try to be all things to all people. They don’t try to attract every applicant in the world, but they take excellent care of those they do accept.

That’s the big takeaway.

Why not adopt the same philosophy in your practice? Instead of focusing on growth and market share, emphasize quality and service. Instead of casting a wide net to catch as many clients as possible, identify your Ideal Client and fish where they’re likely to be found.

Top 20 Colleges Based on Graduate Earnings

Here are the 20 colleges where graduates with bachelor’s degrees earn the highest salaries at five years (early) and 10 years (midpoint) in their careers, according to PayScale:

  1. Harvey Mudd College (California). Early career salary $85,600; Mid-career salary $157,400
  2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Massachusetts). Early career $83,600; Mid-career $150,400
  3. United States Naval Academy (Maryland). Early career $78,600; Mid-career $149,800
  4. California Institute of Technology (California). Early career $83,400; Mid-career $143,100
  5. Stanford University (California). Early career $76,500; Mid-career $143,100
  6. Harvard University (Massachusetts). Early career $72,600; Mid-career $142,600
  7. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (New York). Early career $80,200; Mid-career $142,600
  8. United States Military Academy (New York). Early career $79,300; Mid-career $141,900
  9. Princeton University (New Jersey). Early career $72,700; Mid-career $141,300
  10. SUNY Maritime College (New York). Early career $73,300; Mid-career $140,100
  11. Colorado School of Mines (Colorado). Early career $74,100; Mid-career $139,300
  12. Babson College (Massachusetts). Early career $69,300; Mid-career $139,200
  13. Santa Clara University (California). Early career $66,800; Mid-career $139,100
  14. Stevens Institute of Technology (New Jersey). Early career $73,600; Mid-career $138,900
  15. Dartmouth College (New Hampshire). Early career $68,900; Mid-career $137,500
  16. Colgate University (New York). Early career $65,000; Mid-career $137,300
  17. United States Air Force Academy (Colorado). Early career $74,000; Mid-career $137,300
  18. United States Merchant Marine Academy (New York). Early career $80,800; Mid-career $136,600
  19. University of Pennsylvania (Pennsylvania). Early career $70,100; Mid-career $135,800
  20. Lehigh University (Pennsylvania). Early career $67,200; Mid-career $135,700


Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. During the course of his 35- year career, he has been a solo practitioner, corporate lawyer, legal editor, Legal Aid staff attorney and insurance risk manager. Today he helps lawyers and firms succeed through marketing, work-life balance and reclaiming passion for what they do. He is available for consultations, retreats and presentations ( Contact or 919-619-2441 to learn how Jay can help your practice.


About the Author

Jay Reeves

Jay Reeves practiced law in North Carolina and South Carolina. He was Legal Editor at Lawyers Weekly and Risk Manager at Lawyers Mutual. He is the author of The Most Powerful Attorney in the World, a collection of short stories from a law life well-lived, which as the seasons pass becomes less about law and liability and more about loss, love, longing, laughter and life's lasting luminescence.

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