Liberal arts colleges with the best starting pay

Our ranking system considers how long it takes to pay off an educational investment, and comparative earnings of students at different programs and schools. A school that demonstrates fast payback due to very low costs may outperform a school with very high comparative earnings and high costs. This list ignores how fast the educational investment is paid back, and focuses entirely on the average earnings of students. Note that highest earner rankings do not take into account state wage averages.

Find out more about our college ranking system.

Read more
Filters

219 Results (Showing 20 of 219)

  • Liberal Arts
  • Starting Pay
  • Clear all filters
Sort By

Net cost: The median annual cost of all students that receive any aid. This does not refer to the “sticker price”, the price listed by the college.

Earnings: The median earnings of all bachelor-level students 10 years after enrollment. This includes both students that do and do not graduate, across all majors.

Payback: The amount of time in years it takes to pay off the median net cost by the median earnings. For this calculation, the median earning of high school graduates (in the school’s home state) are deducted from the median earnings.

Earningsplus: The difference between the school’s median earnings and the median earnings for all schools in the same state.

Rankings: The ranking order is based on the economic score. The economic score is calculated using a school’s payback and earningsplus performance.

Net cost
Payback
Earnings
EarningsPlus
Rankings
Ranking methodology
#1 in Starting Pay | #2 in Liberal Arts

Harvey Mudd College

Claremont, California

Economic score: 0.92

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $32,727

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $108,988

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $58,309

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 18%
Graduation rate: 93%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#2 in Starting Pay | #15 in Liberal Arts

Bucknell University

Lewisburg, Pennsylvania

Economic score: 1.68

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $42,502

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $88,154

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $34,576

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 38%
Graduation rate: 89%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#3 in Starting Pay | #1 in Liberal Arts

Claremont McKenna College

Claremont, California

Economic score: 0.87

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $22,161

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $86,571

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $35,892

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 14%
Graduation rate: 94%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#4 in Starting Pay | #3 in Liberal Arts

Washington and Lee University

Lexington, Virginia

Economic score: 0.94

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $22,615

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $86,020

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $43,036

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 25%
Graduation rate: 96%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#5 in Starting Pay | #8 in Liberal Arts

Lafayette College

Easton, Pennsylvania

Economic score: 1.40

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $32,551

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $84,939

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $31,361

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 36%
Graduation rate: 87%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#6 in Starting Pay | #31 in Liberal Arts

College of the Holy Cross

Worcester, Massachusetts

Economic score: 2.11

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $37,292

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $84,653

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $16,895

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 38%
Graduation rate: 92%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#7 in Starting Pay | #20 in Liberal Arts

Colgate University

Hamilton, New York

Economic score: 1.83

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $25,834

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.5 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $76,267

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $20,577

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 28%
Graduation rate: 90%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#8 in Starting Pay | #12 in Liberal Arts

Hamilton College

Clinton, New York

Economic score: 1.54

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $25,440

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.1 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $74,340

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $18,650

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 19%
Graduation rate: 93%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#9 in Starting Pay | #11 in Liberal Arts

Swarthmore College

Swarthmore, Pennsylvania

Economic score: 1.53

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,184

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.1 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $72,637

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $19,059

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 10%
Graduation rate: 95%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#10 in Starting Pay | #26 in Liberal Arts

Franklin and Marshall College

Lancaster, Pennsylvania

Economic score: 1.96

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $30,281

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.6 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $72,227

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $18,649

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 37%
Graduation rate: 83%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#11 in Starting Pay | #5 in Liberal Arts

Virginia Military Institute

Lexington, Virginia

Economic score: 1.16

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $17,804

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,910

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $28,926

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 60%
Graduation rate: 78%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#12 in Starting Pay | #22 in Liberal Arts

Barnard College

New York, New York

Economic score: 1.87

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $28,204

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.4 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,678

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $15,988

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 14%
Graduation rate: 93%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#13 in Starting Pay | #4 in Liberal Arts

Davidson College

Davidson, North Carolina

Economic score: 1.15

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,115

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,671

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $29,600

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 20%
Graduation rate: 91%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#14 in Starting Pay | #17 in Liberal Arts

Williams College

Williamstown, Massachusetts

Economic score: 1.71

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $19,480

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.8 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,608

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $3,850

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 16%
Graduation rate: 96%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#15 in Starting Pay | #14 in Liberal Arts

Amherst College

Amherst, Massachusetts

Economic score: 1.64

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $18,524

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.7 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,567

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $3,809

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 12%
Graduation rate: 93%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#16 in Starting Pay | #71 in Liberal Arts

Connecticut College

New London, Connecticut

Economic score: 2.87

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $32,626

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,239

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $1,679

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 38%
Graduation rate: 80%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#17 in Starting Pay | #7 in Liberal Arts

Colby College

Waterville, Maine

Economic score: 1.25

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $17,777

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 1.9 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,127

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $23,861

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 11%
Graduation rate: 91%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#18 in Starting Pay | #42 in Liberal Arts

Union College

Schenectady, New York

Economic score: 2.35

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $34,779

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $71,055

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $15,365

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 42%
Graduation rate: 87%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#19 in Starting Pay | #30 in Liberal Arts

Dickinson College

Carlisle, Pennsylvania

Economic score: 2.09

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $29,452

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 2.7 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $69,562

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $15,984

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 52%
Graduation rate: 85%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

#20 in Starting Pay | #21 in Liberal Arts

University of Richmond

University of Richmond, Virginia

Economic score: 1.84

The economic score is calculated using two factors: 1) how fast students are able to payback their educational investment with new earnings and 2) how much alumni earn compared to all alumni in the same state, 10 years after enrollment. These two factors are referred to as payback and earningsplus.

These scorings are based on the most recent data released by the U.S. Department of Education’s College Scorecard and the Integrated Postsecondary Education Data System (IPEDS).

View school
Net cost: $25,838

The median net cost of students who receive federal financial aid. This is lower than the price advertised by the school.

Payback: 3 years

Average time in years to pay back educational costs.

Earnings: $69,310

Median earnings of all students 10 years after enrollment. Includes students that did not graduate.

EarningsPlus: + $26,326

How much more/less money the median student earns against all bachelor students in the same state, same enrollment year.

Admission rate: 31%
Graduation rate: 83%

Schools with a graduation rate in the bottom 50% in their state are shown in red. Schools in the bottom 25% nationally are put to the end of the ranking list.

Show more