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Graduates of these 10 schools earn the most money

Princeton University
Source: Princeton University
Princeton University

Attending college is a major investment, and it's essential that students factor how much they expect to earn upon graduation into the decision about which school to attend.

Job site PayScale collected information from 2.3 million Americans with bachelor's degrees from 2,441 institutions and found that graduates with highest median salaries often attended small colleges with strong engineering programs.

Read on to see PayScale's list of the 10 schools with the alumni with the highest median income:

10. Stanford University

Early career pay: $73,300

Mid-career pay: $140,400

Percentage of STEM majors: 49 percent

9. Harvard University

Early career pay: $69,200

Mid-career pay: $140,700

Percentage of STEM majors: 19 percent

8. Babson College

Early career pay: $66,600

Mid-career pay: $141,700

Percentage of STEM majors: 0 percent

7. California Institute of Technology

Early career pay: $78,800

Mid-career pay: $142,500

Percentage of STEM majors: 97 percent

6. United States Naval Academy

Early career pay: $75,000

Mid-career pay: $143,800

Percentage of STEM majors: 60 percent

New cadets stand in formation during the Oath of Allegiance ceremony during Reception Day at the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 27, 2016 in West Point, New York.
Getty Images
New cadets stand in formation during the Oath of Allegiance ceremony during Reception Day at the United States Military Academy at West Point, June 27, 2016 in West Point, New York.

5. United States Military Academy

Early career pay: $75,100

Mid-career pay: $144,300

Percentage of STEM majors: 43 percent

4. SUNY Maritime College

Early career pay: $71,600

Mid-career pay: $145,100

Percentage of STEM majors: 35 percent

3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Early career pay: $81,500

Mid-career pay: $147,000

Percentage of STEM majors: 69 percent

2. Princeton University

Early career pay: $69,800

Mid-career pay: $147,800

Percentage of STEM majors: 47 percent

1. Harvey Mudd College

Early career pay: $81,000

Mid-career pay: $155,800

Percentage of STEM majors: 85 percent

Analysis

It's important to note that these wealthy alumni do not accurately represent the socioeconomic, racial and gender distribution of the U.S. population. Many of the schools with high-earning alumni enroll a disproportionate number of men. Given that women on average earn just 83 percent of what men earn, it makes sense that schools with high percentages of male students have high-earning alumni.

Babson College
Boston Globe | Getty Images
Babson College

Fourth on the list is SUNY Maritime College, whose student body is 90 percent male. Fifth on the list is the United States Military Academy, which enrolls 81 percent men.

And it's not just schools affiliated with the armed forces that have both high percentages of male students and high-earning alumni. Harvey Mudd, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and California Institute of Technology all enroll more men than women.

People of color also face a stubborn wage gap and are underrepresented at many of these schools. The New York Times recently highlighted that while black students make up 15 percent of college-age Americans, they only make up 6 percent of the incoming freshmen class across top colleges such as Harvard and MIT.

Black men and women make 73 and 65 percent, respectively, of what white men make. Given that these top schools graduate a high percentage of white students, their alumni are already more likely to earn more after graduating.

Lack of socioeconomic diversity is also a potential cause for this phenomenon. While institutions such as the Naval Academy and the Military Academy are free to attend, other schools such as Babson College charge steep tuition, leading to a disproportionately wealthy student body.

According to the National Center for Education Statistics, 90 percent of students at private 4-year colleges are awarded aid. At Babson College, however, just 44 percent receive aid. If your family is able to afford to pay $68,428 a year for you to attend Babson, the odds are already stacked in your favor.

Other research has been conducted that highlights schools that do a terrific job of creating mobility for students. Stanford professor Raj Chetty and Harvard economist Nathaniel Hendren found that mid-tier public schools were actually the best at helping move students from the bottom fifth of income distribution to the top fifth.

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