Postgraduate degrees from these US universities give the best ROI

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Universities are increasingly being valued by the earning potential of their graduates.

By U2B Staff 

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In an age when people are increasingly questioning the value of higher education, one of the most important factors to consider is salary. A field, major, and location can greatly impact your future salary potential. Understanding what your post-graduation earning power will likely be is essential to making a sound financial decision from your list of universities and majors.

Soon-to-be graduates will be entering a job market seemingly unlike any other next spring. This does not mean universities are not taking the necessary measures to prepare students for life after midterms and dissertations. 

Universities are prioritising setting up virtual job fairs, providing online office hours for career development, and reaching out to companies to create collaborative opportunities for co-op programmes for potential student hires. While finding a high-paying job might be harder now than in years past, there are plenty of  US universities that have a history of placing their graduates directly into big companies. 

Then institutions often produce yearly reports of graduated students’ placement, which typically updates their employment status, if they have applied to or are currently furthering their education, if they are in a fellowship programme, or if they are in the military or searching for a job. 


Stacker compiled a list of institutions whose graduates go on to earn the most, using 2020 data from PayScale. Here are some of the top US universities from the list:

Massachusetts Institute of Technology 

Internships are big at MIT, where 39% of the class of 2019 received a full-time job offer as a result of theirs. Harvard, Cambridge, and MIT were top graduate school destinations for MIT grads, while some directly went to work at Harvard, Stanford, and Princeton.

Other students landed jobs with industry leaders in health care, government, energy/utilities, and information and technology.

Mid-career pay: US$158,100

Early career pay: US$88,300

Princeton University 

According to data released by Princeton in 2017, 93.8% of graduated achieved their post-graduation plans within six months, with 72.5% accepting full-time employment and 17.5 % pursuing further education.

Graduates went on to find employment in industries such as professional, scientific and technical services, finance, education and health care. 

Mid-career pay: US$150,500

Early career pay: US$77,300

California Institute of Technology

In 2017, the average starting salary for a Caltech graduate was US$105,500. In that same class, 35% of graduates attended graduate school. Their Career Development Center provides career tools and holds career fairs twice a year, bringing in over 150 recruiters from various fields.

Caltech’s alumni have gone on to be successful in fields from academia and research, to industry, with professions in law, medicine, public service, and even performance art.

Mid-career pay: US$150,300

Early career pay: US$87,600

Harvard University 

In 2019, Harvard students won 157 postgraduate fellowships for travel, study, and more. More than half of the class of 2019 had spent summers abroad in a professional environment.

Through the Harvard-China Project, rigorous, peer-reviewed studies with partner institutions in China are conducted to study the global challenges of climate change, air quality, energy systems, and economic development. Dozens of Harvard graduates have eventually found work in China.

Mid-career pay: US$147,700

Early career pay: US$76,400


Stanford University 

Amazon, Uber, and LinkedIn are a few of the tech companies seeking Stanford graduates. But not everyone at Silicon Valley school works in tech, humanities and sciences, and engineering are popular majors. This is followed by medicine, business, and law. 

Mid-career pay: US$147,100

Early career pay: US$81,800

Santa Clara University 

Almost 88% of Santa Clara’s 2019 class reported employment, with a majority in the service or manufacturing industries. SCU graduates go on to work from courtrooms to C-suites, from California to China, with employment from major companies such as Apple, Google LLC, Amazon, Oracle, Facebook, Microsoft, LinkedIn, and more. 

Mid-career pay: US$146,300

Early career pay: US$71,100

Yale University 

Full-time employed graduates (working in the U.S.) from Yale’s 2019 class had a starting salary of $68,472. Finance and consulting jobs accounted for almost 30% of jobs for recent Yale graduates, with Yale itself being the top employer.

More than half of those employed worked in large organisations with 500 or more employees. Other top employers include Goldman Sachs Group, Bain & Company, Boston Consulting Group, Google LLC, Morgan Stanley, Deloitte, Facebook and more.

Mid-career pay: US$141,300

Early career pay: US$72,700