Show Me the Money: Unveiling the Real Earnings of US College Grads 4 Years Out

Nov. 21, 2023
3 min read
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Executive summary

  • There is a significant income disparity between Ivy League and top public school graduates. Four years post-graduation, Ivy League graduates earn an average of $91,866.92 annually, approximately 55% more than top public school graduates who average $59,132.31.

  • The most lucrative fields are Nuclear Engineering Technologies/Technicians and Biomathematics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology, earning median salaries of $131,454 and $117,247 respectively. Other high-paying fields include Marine Transportation, Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, and various Computer-related domains.

  • The top three universities with the highest earning majors are Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University. The most lucrative major across these institutions is Computer Science.

  • University of Pennsylvania and Massachusetts Institute of Technology have multiple majors amongst the top 20 highest earning majors, mostly from the fields of computer science, engineering, and finance.

These findings suggest the potential long-term financial benefits of attending Ivy League institutions and choosing majors in specific high-paying fields. However, further analysis is necessary to understand the factors contributing to these disparities.


About the data

College Scorecard provides data at the institution and field of study level of earnings estimate. This data set includes institution-level and field of study to estimate student's median earnings 4 years after graduation. The data was last updated in late April 2023. 

Source and credit of the original dataset: https://collegescorecard.ed.gov/data


Analytics

1. Ivy League vs. top public schools, what are the differences in earnings?

  • The data indicates a significant difference in average earnings between Ivy League graduates and top public school graduates, four years post-graduation.
  • Specifically, Ivy League graduates are earning an average of $91,866.92 annually, four years after graduation.
  • In contrast, graduates from top public schools average $59,132.31 in annual earnings, four years following graduation.
  • This suggests that Ivy League graduates earn approximately 55% more than their counterparts from top public schools.
  • The data provides a compelling argument for the long-term financial benefits of attending an Ivy League institution, however, further analysis would be needed to understand the factors contributing to this disparity.

2. Which fields are the most lucrative?

  • The top two most lucrative fields are Nuclear Engineering Technologies/Technicians and Biomathematics, Bioinformatics, and Computational Biology, earning median salaries of $131,454 and $117,247 respectively.

  • Occupations related to maritime, namely Marine Transportation and Naval Architecture and Marine Engineering, also command high salaries, with median earnings of $104,858 and $101,744 respectively.

  • Computer-related fields, such as Computer Science and Computer Engineering, feature prominently in the list, earning median salaries of $95,504 and $95,379 respectively.

  • Petroleum Engineering and Construction Engineering round out the top ten, with median salaries of $94,260 and $90,834 respectively.

  • Operations Research and Veterinary Medicine also make the list, earning median salaries of $99,689 and $97,533 respectively.

3. Top 20 school/majors that earn the most.

  • The top three universities for highest earning majors are Harvard University, California Institute of Technology, and Carnegie Mellon University, with median earnings of around $256,539, $253,305, and $247,552 respectively.
  • The most lucrative major appears to be Computer Science, as it is the top earning major in 9 out of the 20 universities listed, including the top earning university, Harvard.
  • Other high-earning majors include Computer and Information Sciences, General and Electrical, Electronics and Communications Engineering.
  • The University of Pennsylvania is the only university on the list that has two different majors (Computer and Information Sciences, General and Finance and Financial Management Services) in the top 20.
  • Massachusetts Institute of Technology also has multiple majors in the top 20, but they are all related to computer science or engineering.

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