2020 Best Colleges for Earning Potential

By the GradReports team | Updated April 1, 2020
Best Colleges Badge

Based on over 100,000 college degree programs and the starting salary data of over 5 million graduates, our rankings represent the most comprehensive collection of data-driven college rankings available to date. Covering over 70 majors at the bachelor's and master's levels, as well as the 20 most popular online degree programs, our rankings help prospective students answer the question, “What can I expect to make if I graduate from a particular school with a particular major?”

As expected, STEM fields dominate the list of high earning majors, with computer science graduates from Brown University earning a median salary of $141,100. Other high earning majors include business, finance, engineering, information technology, math, and nursing. Also noteworthy are the low incomes of humanities and social science majors such as anthropology, English, film production, history, journalism, music, social work, and writing. The top programs in these majors do not crack the $55,000 level.

Do elite colleges matter? In many programs, less selective colleges perform just as well as elite colleges. For example, the top three highest-earning schools for civil engineering majors are Stevens Institute of Technology ($72,700), Santa Clara University ($72,500) and San Jose State University ($72,100), topping more prestigious schools such as Notre Dame ($69,200), Cornell University ($67,100), and Columbia University ($66,000). Given the magnitude of the student debt crisis in the US, our goal is to help students make more informed schooling choices that will unburden their careers after college. We are excited to be the first publisher to provide comprehensive rankings of colleges based on student earnings from the Department of Education. Below are the list of rankings for bachelor's programs. You can also see the rankings for the best graduate programs, best online degree programs, and best online master's programs.

Associate Degrees

Certificate Programs

Best Bachelor's Degrees by Major

Best Associate Degrees by Major

Best Certificate Programs by Major