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Colleges That Bring in the Highest Paycheck 2012

Best Colleges For High Salaries

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Location, prestige, academic reputation, and tuition are major factors for students in the college-selection process, but post-graduation salary is something rarely taken into consideration.
Photo: Andrew Paterson | Photographer's Choice RF | Getty Images

Location, prestige, academic reputation, and tuition are major factors for students in the college-selection process, but post-graduation salary is something rarely taken into consideration.

Although salaries depend heavily on a graduate’s field of work, companies are willing to pay a premium for students hailing from the nation’s top universities. But which undergraduate institutions offer the most valuable degrees?

Recently, Payscale.com released a report on the highest salary potential among 1,058 of the nation’s colleges, and from this data colleges and universities can be ranked by the mid-career median salaries of its graduates. For schools with the same mid-career median salaries, starting median salary determines their relative rank. In the case of a tie in this number, the school with the higher starting salary is ranked higher. The ranking considered only people with undergraduate degrees, which ruled out post-graduate degree holders, such as lawyers and medical and pharmacy professionals.

Of the following top 10 highest earning schools, their graduates earn an average of $122,500 at mid-career, which is up nearly 5 percent over last year. As a few points of comparison, the bottom 10 schools’ graduates earn an average of $44,490 at mid-career, and the top party school by salary potential is University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) with a mid-career salary of $95,900.

So, which schools have highest-paid graduates? Click ahead to find out.

By Paul Toscano and Colleen Kane
Updated 27 September 2012

Note: School ranking, enrollment and acceptance rate information is taken from the
U.S. News 2013 College Rankings and Reviews.

10. Stanford University

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Mid-Career median salary: $114,000
Photo: John Elk III | Lonely Planet Images | Getty Images

Mid-career median salary: $114,000
Starting median salary: $58,200

Location: Stanford, Calif.
College rank: 6 (tie)
Acceptance rate: 7.1%
Enrollment: 6,988

9. Babson College

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Mid-Career median salary: $117,000
Photo: Sporst | Flickr

Mid-career median salary: $117,000
Starting median salary: $56,700

Location: Babson Park, Mass.
College rank: unranked
Acceptance rate: 33.8%
Enrollment: 2,007

8. Polytechnic Institute of New York University

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Mid-Career median salary: $117,000
Photo: Polytechnic Institute of NYU

Mid-career median salary: $117,000
Starting median salary: $56,800

Location: Brooklyn, N.Y.
College rank: 139
Acceptance rate: 68.2%
Enrollment: 1,939

7. Lehigh University

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Mid-Career median salary: $118,000
Photo: lrsla.com

Mid-career median salary: $118,000
Starting median salary: $56,900

Location: Bethlehem, Penn.
College rank: 38
Acceptance rate: 33.4%
Enrollment: 4,869

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)

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Mid-Career median salary: $118,000
Photo: Huntstock | The Image Bank | Getty Images

Mid-career median salary: $118,000
Starting median salary: $68,400

Location: Cambridge, Mass.
College rank: 6 (tie)
Acceptance rate: 9.7%
Enrollment: 4,384

5. U.S. Military Academy (USMA) at West Point*

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Mid-Career median salary: $120,000
Photo: Chad J. McNeeley | Department of Defense

Mid-career median salary: $120,000*
Starting median salary: $76,000*

Location: West Point, N.Y.
College rank: 18
Acceptance rate: 10.6%
Enrollment: 4,624

*Data represent those in the civilian labor force, not active service members.

4. U.S. Naval Academy (USNA) at Annapolis*

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Mid-Career median salary: $122,000
Photo: Panoramic Images | Getty Images

Mid-career median salary: $122,000*
Starting median salary: $72,200*

Location: Annapolis, Md.
College rank: 14
Acceptance rate: 7.5%
Total undergrad enrollment: 4,576

*Data represent those in the civilian labor force, not active service members.

3. California Institute of Technology (Caltech)

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Mid-Career median salary: $127,000
Photo: CanonvsNikon | Creative Commons

Mid-career median salary: $127,000
Starting median salary: $67,400

Location: Pasadena, Calif.
College rank: 10
Acceptance rate: 12.8%
Enrollment: 978

2. Harvey Mudd College

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Mid-Career median salary: $135,000
Photo: Creative Commons

Mid-career median salary: $135,000
Starting median salary: $66,800

Location: Claremont, Calif.
College rank: 12
Acceptance rate: 22.3%
Enrollment: 777

1. Princeton University

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Mid-Career median salary: $137,000
Photo: Barry Winiker | Photolibrary | Getty Images

Mid-career median salary: $137,000
Starting median salary: $58,300

Location: Princeton, N.J.
College rank: 1 (tie)
Acceptance rate: 8.46%
Enrollment: 5,249