PayScale's 2010 College Salary Report Highlights Decrease In Starting Pay

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New report indicates top brand name schools suffer significant starting salary drop off, including an average of 5% at the Ivy League; Dartmouth displaced as top earner

What remains consistent though from our previous reports is that the Engineering and Nursing professions provide the greatest starting salary opportunity for college graduates.

PayScale, Inc. today announced its 2010 College Salary Report. The report, which analyzes the company's database of over 23 million unique compensation profiles, provides a critical perspective on the relationship between college selection and both starting and mid-career salaries.

After two years at #1 for mid-career pay, Dartmouth College slipped to a tie with Princeton for #2 in the 2010 study, with Harvey Mudd College of Claremont CA taking the #1 spot. The new #1 for starting pay is the California Institute of Technology (Caltech), edging out Loma Linda University, last year's #1.

The report highlights that even during the economic volatility of the last 24 months, Engineering Schools continue to hold their value: 7 of top 10 for starting pay are schools with strong engineering programs, with the other 3 being strong in nursing and allied healthcare fields.

The PayScale 2010 College Salary Report pulls together over 2,500 data points, including salary data for 125 bachelor's degree majors and from 999 U.S. based undergraduate colleges and universities. The full report can be found at

Some highlights from the 2010 College Salary Report include:

  •     At mid-career, universities with stellar academic reputations still top the list in earnings, though there is a clear engineering tilt:

1.    Harvey Mudd College
2.    Princeton University
2.    Dartmouth College
4.    Harvard University
5.    California Institute of Technology
6.    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
7.    Stanford University
8.    Colgate University
9.    Duke University
10.    Bucknell University

  •     The recession has affected the earnings of college grads with jobs: at mid-career, earnings are down an average of 1.5% for the approx. 600 schools in the report this year and last.
  •     The top 10 highest earning schools at mid-career graduates earn an average of $115,000 per year, while the bottom 10 have graduates earning $45,000/year.
  •     For starting pay, "sure thing" majors like nursing and engineer have a large impact on school rankings.
  •     Nursing is the highest starting pay major after engineering and related majors
  •     For starting pay, the top 10 schools are engineering and nursing colleges - no Ivies:

1.    California Institute of Technology
2.    Loma Linda University
3.    Harvey Mudd College
4.    Massachusetts Institute of Technology
5.    Felician College
6.    Carnegie Mellon University
7.    Molloy College
8.    Polytechnic Institute of New York University
9.    Colorado School of Mines
10.    Worcester Polytechnic Institute

  •     Starting pay was down an average of 2.5% across all schools
  •     Starting pay was down an average of 4.5% at the top 10 US News National Universities
  •     Starting pay was down an average of 5% at the 8 Ivy League schools.
  •     Despite the recent bad publicity, Petroleum Engineering graduates earn by far the highest both for starting pay and at mid-career of any bachelor's major.

"The findings in our 2010 salary report support the soft and uncertain economic outlook: starting salary for graduates of colleges and universities across the country are down from previous levels. It is clear that the deep recession and slow recovery has not only made it harder to find a job, but has also brought down overall compensation for college graduates beginning their careers," said Dr. Al Lee, Director of Qualitative Analysis at PayScale. "What remains consistent though from our previous reports is that the Engineering and Nursing professions provide the greatest starting salary opportunity for college graduates."

A note on methodology: All data used to produce the 2010 PayScale College Salary Report were collected from employees who successfully completed PayScale's employee survey. Self-employed, project-based, and contract employees are not included. For example, project-based graphic designers and architects, and nearly all small business owners and novelists, are not included. For more detailed salary methodology visit:

About PayScale is the leading online provider of employee compensation data. With the world's largest database of individual compensation profiles, PayScale provides an immediate and precise snapshot of current market salaries to employees and employers. PayScale's patent-pending, real-time profiling technology collects and indexes employee pay attributes worldwide and makes this compensation data available through its online salary tools and salary benchmarking reports. PayScale was founded in 2002 and is headquartered in Seattle. Follow us on Twitter:


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Steven Gottlieb
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