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A new way to look at which schools have the highest-earning graduates

According to a new ranking from Georgetown University.

Georgetown University adjusted salary information based on the composition of majors at each school. The Boston Globe

If you want to make a lot of money in your lifetime, you might want to consider going to the Massachusetts Institute of Technology or Harvard University, according to a new school ranking from Georgetown University.

Using the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard, the report ranked over 1,400 colleges based on whose students go on to earn the highest salaries 10 years after beginning their studies. MIT came in at No. 1, with graduates earning an average salary of $91,600, followed by United States Merchant Marine Academy, and Harvard University, whose graduates earn an average $87,200 per year.

Among the top 20 institutions on the list, there emerged a trend of two types of institutions: Elite private universities and liberal arts colleges like Harvard, and institutions that focus on technology and engineering, business, or training students for jobs in specific industries, like maritime academies.

But obviously what you choose to major in also has a huge impact on salary. For example, the average petroleum engineering major earns $136,000 annually at mid-career, while the typical childhood education major makes $36,000, the report points out.

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Since some colleges have high concentrations of high-earning majors like engineering, while others have a large number of low-earning majors like social work, Georgetown made another ranking adjusted for differences in the composition of majors within each institution’s undergraduate student population. This was meant to isolate the effects of the quality of the colleges, as opposed to the differences in majors.

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With this in mind, attendees of Harvard, Georgetown University, and the University of Colorado-Denver had the highest earnings relative to what you’d expect based on their composition of majors. Harvard grads, for example, earned $29,200 more than you’d expect based on their choice of majors.

The report also looked at two other factors that can impact earnings among four-year colleges: Academic preparation, and whether students go on to earn a graduate degree after completing their Bachelor’s. This means the report wanted to isolate how much a college could credit the quality of its education, given the quality of the students it selects, in addition to taking into account where they attended grad school.

To isolate for these effects, the report modified major-adjusted rankings to account for differences in academic preparation and graduate degree attainment. With this factored in, students who attended the University of Colorado-Denver were the highest earners, with a median earning of $73,800, compared to their expected earnings of $47,600 given their majors, level of academic preparation, and graduate degree attainment. Georgetown University students came in at No. 2, while University of the Pacific in California took the third spot.

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