Money Talks, So Should You

Schools that get their grads the highest starter salaries

If it’s money on your mind when you think about career, an academic workload emphasizing math and science is still the way to go in college.

Brian O'Connell
by Brian O'Connell, MainStreet contributor

As college graduates trade their sheepskin for a briefcase and enter the business world this summer, there are those from certain schools that will likely do better on the salary front right out of the gate than those from other schools.

That’s great news for graduates of Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science, Stanford University and New York University’s School of Nursing, which rank at the top of the heap in a survey of starting salaries for college graduates from U.S. schools and universities.

The survey, released last week from San Francisco-based NerdWallet, an online price comparison website, uses data from U.S. News & World Report and recent surveys of college grads entering the workforce in 2010-12 to rank the top 25 “highest salary” schools in the U.S.

READ: 6 myths to ignore when writing a resumé

Topping that list is Carnegie Mellon, where computer science grads earn an average starting salary of $84,400, followed by Stanford school of engineering grads who earn about $74,700. NYU nursing grads follow in third place with an average starting salary of $70,200.

Ever hear of Harvey Mudd College?

You should check it out if you’re linking dollars to degrees; the Claremont Calif.-based private college (which usually attracts science, engineering and mathematics majors) ranked fourth in the NerdWallet rankings, at $69,100 for an average starting salary for its graduates.

Rounding out the top 10:

  • The University of Pennsylvania’s school of engineering and applied science, at $66,500
  • Carnegie Mellon’s College of Science, at $65,697
  • Carnegie Mellon’s College of Engineering, at $65,673
  • University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, at $65,600
  • The Massachusetts Institute of Technology, at $65,300
  • Cornell University’s College of Engineering, at $64,285

READ: What's more important? financial security or career opportunities

The entire list is stacked with schools that specialize in business, science and technology, with the nursing schools at NYU and Penn sliding in as well. Notable in their lack are law and medical school graduates, which aren’t represented specifically in the NerdWallet rankings.

Eleven of those top 25 colleges including engineering schools, while six represent business schools, hinting that if it’s money on your mind in a professional career, an academic workload emphasizing math and science is the way to go.

The NerdWallet survey also suggests that high college tuition is a good investment, as long as students focus on the academic disciplines that actually pay out in great salaries.


Brian O’Connell has 15 years of experience covering business news and trends, particularly in the financial, health care and career management sectors. He has written 14 books and appeared on CNN, Fox News, CNBC, C-Span, Bloomberg, CBS Radio and other media outlets and in such publications as The Wall Street Journal and The He is a former Wall Street bond trader.