Rankings Measure Colleges By How Much Graduates Earn

On average, Massachusetts Institute of Technology graduates earn $91,600 annually ten years after they initially enroll. (Ted Lester/Flickr)

There’s an ongoing debate in this country about the value of a college degree. With so many students falling behind on student loan payments, price-conscious families are increasingly demanding a return on their investment.

That’s why in recent months we’ve seen the U.S. Department of Education introduce its College Scorecard, which crunches federal data and spits out a college’s average annual cost, graduation rate and the median salary of former students.

Now, labor economists at Georgetown University are out with their own rankings of more than 1,400 four-year colleges and universities based on graduates’ earnings potential.

The report, Ranking Your College: Where You Go and What You Make, gives students and families a list of colleges with the highest earnings potential ten years after students enroll.

The top-rated school? The Massachusetts Institute of Technology whose graduates earn, on average, $91,600. MIT is followed by the United States Merchant Marine Academy and Harvard University.

The report also includes rankings that factor in differences among majors because choice of study has a huge effect on earnings potential. For example, wages differ significantly for engineering and education majors.

Georgetown researchers also accounted for whether students go on to earn a graduate degree. The report finds graduate degrees lead to 28 percent higher earnings than Bachelor’s degrees.

Related: With Renewed Focus On Outcomes, Colleges Expand Career Services

Washington Monthly magazine has been publishing its own college ranking, one where neither MIT, Harvard nor Stanford come out on top. In 2014, Editor Paul Glastris told us how the magazine’s “Bang for the Buck” list works:

[Cross-posted at On Campus: the WGBH News Higher Education Blog]

Kirk Carapezza

Kirk Carapezza is the lead reporter for On Campus. Kirk has reported for Wisconsin Public Radio in Madison, Wis., and Vermont Public Radio in Montpelier, Vt. He's been a writer and producer at WBUR in Boston; a teacher and coach at Nativity Preparatory School in New Bedford, Mass.; a Fenway Park tour guide; and a tourist abroad.

Kirk received his B.A. from the College of the Holy Cross and earned his M.S. from Columbia University's Graduate School of Journalism. When he's not reporting or editing stories on campus, you can find him posting K's on the Wall at Fenway.