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Brookings Now

A new kind of college ranking: The 10 universities that will increase your career earnings the most

Thomas Young

In a new report, titled “Beyond College Rankings,” Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rothwell explores the “value-added” of 2- and 4-year colleges in the United States. Unlike many previous measures of college performance, Rothwell’s “value-added” measure accounts for the difference in the expected economic success of alumni and the actual outcomes of graduates. Rothwell measures the expected success of alumni from each school based on factors like academic performance, student body demographics, and the types of courses offered at each school. He then compares these measures against the actual performance of graduates from each school based on mid-career earnings levels, the value of job skills, and ability to repay student loans.

Within the report, you will find an interactive that allows you to sort nearly 7,000 U.S. colleges based on these measures of alumni performance.

Here are the top 10 four-year colleges, based on the “value added” of alumni mid-career earnings levels:

Rank Institution Salary Value-added Predicted Mid-career Salary Actual Mid-career salary*
1. California Institute of Technology 49% $77,129 $126,200
2. Colgate University 46% $79,774 $126,600
3. Massachusetts Institute of Technology 45% $82,439 $128,800
4. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology 44% $73,628 $114,100
5. Carleton College 43% $76,236 $117,700
6. Washington and Lee University 42% $81,281 $124,300
7. SUNY Maritime College 42% $79,637 $121,700
8. Clarkson University 42% $72,583 $110,700
9. Manhattan College 42% $72,701 $110,800
10. Stanford University 41% $83,864 $126,400


Source: Brookings analysis
*Actual Mid-Career Earnings are from Payscale.com


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Visit the full report and interactive for details on the calculation and to see how other schools perform.

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