Choosing a college and a major is tough, to say the least. It’s a decision that will impact many areas of your life, including, of course, your earning potential. PayScale — a provider of on-demand salary, benefits and compensation data info — recently released its College Salary Report for the 2019-20 school year in an effort to make the decision of where to go and what to take up a little bit easier.
Harvey Mudd College is once again the school where graduates have the highest earning potential with mid-career pay for graduates coming in at $158,200 a year.
For those who have never heard of Harvey Mudd College, it’s a private liberal arts school in Claremont California. But prospective students looking to pursue a career in history, education, or business might want to consider another school. This elite institution of higher learning only grants degrees in science, engineering, and mathematics. The California school’s mid-career pay edged out the prestigious Massachusetts Institute of Technology by $3,000.
Bachelor’s Degree schools leading to the highest pay
Harvey Mudd College - $158,200
Massachusetts Institute of Technology - $155,200
Samuel Merritt University - $154,100
United States Naval Academy - $152,800
California Institute of Technology - $151,600
Harvard and Stanford are next in line at $146,800 and $145,2000, respectively.
“What you're really seeing is sort of the way that, you know, really science focused, STEM focused colleges are seeing the boom of an economy that is shifting towards more scientific and technical skills,” Sudarshan Sampath, PayScale’s director of research, told Yahoo Finance.
Most flexible, highest paying college majors
Major flexibility is becoming more important in the ever-evolving labor market, according to PayScale.
Here are the top five most adaptable areas of study:
Many might be stunned to see the social sciences of Psychology and Sociology in the top five. Sampath notes that the flexibility of those degree paths might have more to do with the current labor market than the versatility of the majors themselves.
"I think what you're seeing is the impact ... that not everyone who gets a major in psychology has a job that has anything to do with psychology … the highest, the most common job within our data set of people with a psychology major are ambulance drivers and attendants. They're 42% more likely to be an ambulance driver than the rest of the population. There seems to be a mismatch in the economy with the amount of people who are getting psychology degrees and then the number of actual jobs that have anything to do with psychology. And that's a trend with a lot of social sciences."
And here are the highest paying majors (mid-career, median pay):
Petroleum engineering - $176,900
Electrical engineering & computer science (EECS) -$142,200
Applied economics and management - $140,000
Operations research - $137,100
Political economy - $ 136,200
And the best overall institutions and majors, according to PayScale:
Art, computer science and engineering, Stanford University
Business, Harvard University
Communications, University of California-Berkeley
Education, Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University
Humanities, United States Air Force Academy
Math, Harvard University
Physical and Life Science, Harvey Mudd College
Social Science, Colgate University
PayScale wants parents and prospective college students to use the data in the report as resources to make a really informed decision about college and answer questions like:
"What makes sense for me personally? What makes sense for me going forward. What do I find interesting? Where I can afford to go, and I can actually get into that's not going to be a burden on me or my parents."
Reggie Wade is a writer for Yahoo Finance. Follow him on Twitter at @ReggieWade.