February 14, 2012

Starting Salaries Across Several Majors at Different Universities

There are several studies that show the average starting salary for a given profession or various college majors.   There are also some research that shows average wages for alumni of various universities.  You can find out the average wage for an engineer or a nurse and you can find out  the average income for a Harvard grad or a University of Florida grad.   But I don't see any studies that give you average wages when majors and universities are combined.   I decided I'd try and put together a little bit of data in to show the average starting wages for various majors at several different universities.

There are some significant limitations to the data I have.   This is only a small sample of data.   Often the surveys only have 10-20 replies so they are small sample sizes that are subject to some distortions.   For example if one student happens to get a very low or very high wage then it will skew the numbers a fair amount.   I don't consider this information to be conclusive or very scientific.   I think its probably 'good enough' sample to get an idea of what the trends are but to have a real solid study you'd have to get a lot more data than I found.

I could only find information self reported by a few universities.    Many of the schools don't have survey data available, or at least not that I could find.  The schools I searched for were mostly randomly selected.

I wanted to have some distribution of schools of varying quality.   I decided to try and find schools with high, middle and low rankings as ranked by the U.S. News College rankings report.  I started by trying to find a few of the top 10 schools and thats why I have Stanford and University of Pennsylvania.  I then randomly found some other universities.  I also searched for many other universities by name that I picked randomly but couldn't find information.    I also tried to find schools from different parts of the nation.   There are universities from the West coast, Midwest. Northeast and the South.  

The universities that I found data for are listed below with links to their salary data:

Stanford South Carolina
University of Pennsylvania Kansas State
Carnegie Mellon Pace University
University of Washington California Polytechnic, San Luis Obispo
University Texas at Austin - engineering Western Washington University
U.T. Communications Wichita State
Purdue Central Michigan
Virginia Tech

Stanford and U. Pennsylvania are both ranked #5 by U.S. News.   They serve as my examples of highly rated, prestigious schools.   Carnegie Mellon, University of Washington, U. Texas at Austin, Purdue and Virginia Tech are all in between the #20 and #80 position and the schools I consider to be in the "good" range.    South Carolina, Kansas State and Pace University are all below #100 ranking and these schools are the "lower ranked" schools.   The "unranked" schools are Wichita and Central Michigan.

Finally I've got Cal Poly and Western Washington university which are 'regional' ranked colleges rather than nationally ranked colleges.   I don't know exactly how regional vs national rankings compare.  

Chemical engineering, Civil engineering and Computer Science

First I looked at a couple engineering disciplines and computer science.  Here's the data:

Civil engr Chemical engr Comp Sci
5 Stanford

5 U. Penn

23 Carnegie Mellon $51,000 $66,800 $84,832
43 U. Washington $51,016 $57,280 $80,318
45 Texas, Austin $57,454 $72,234
   62 Purdue $52,850 $61,299 $59,090
   71 Va Tech $50,000 $65,000 $62,000
111 S. Carolina $49,917 $67,350
143 Kansas St $48,985 $67,344 $60,453
170 Pace

r-7 Cal Poly $56,000
r-22 W. Wash. U

n/a Wichita

n/a C. Michigan

For chemical engineering and civil engineering their appears to be little correlation between the U.S. News rankings and the starting salaries.   The lowest and highest civil engineering wages are $48,985 and $57,454 which is about 17% difference.    The chemical engineering wages ranged from $57,280 to $72,234 which is 26% difference.   Computer science majors see a much wider spread of wages and it appears to be pretty proportional to the U.S. News rankings for the university.   The lowest Comp. Sci. average salaries are $50,133 and the highest is $84,832 which is 69% higher than the low.   The top 50 schools for comp. sci. all averaged wages in the $76,000 to $84000 range.  The lower ranked schools all had average wages of $69,000 or less. 

Education, Communications, English and Psychology

Next I picked some humanities and liberal arts fields.  I picked elementary education, communications, English and psychology.

Elementary Ed Communic English Psychology
5 Stanford

5 U. Penn $33,577 $37,021

23 Carnegie Mellon

$34,177 $46,800
43 U. Washington
$38,098 $36,600 $36,100
45 Texas, Austin

   62 Purdue $32,775 $33,117 $30,416 $32,004
   71 Va Tech
$30,000 $31,000 $32,500
111 S. Carolina $25,321

143 Kansas St $34,404 $27,000 $28,710 $24,840
170 Pace $25,600 $33,000 $48,100
r-7 Cal Poly
r-22 W. Wash. U $28,505 $34,110 $27,970 $23,355
n/a Wichita $34,164 $23,200 $27,000 $25,753
n/a C. Michigan $37,818 $34,930 $35,250 $30,179

Elementary school majors had little difference in wages related to the ranking of the U.S. News rankings.   I am assuming that the elementary school major wages are highly dependent on local school district rates and do not relate to university.   It should also be noted that some of the teachers wages for just a bachelors are likely underemployed as many states require additional schooling.  In other words in some areas a teacher with just a bachelors won't get a full teacher position so wages reported at bachelor level are likely not always for full teacher positions.     For English and Communications majors I don't see a significant relationship between the U.S. News rankings of the university and the salaries.      Psychology major salaries seemed to correlate some to the U.S. News rankings.   The top 75 ranked schools all had wages above $32,000 while the lower ranked schools were all below $31,000.

Accounting and Nursing

Accounting Nursing
5 Stanford

5 U. Penn
23 Carnegie Mellon

43 U. Washington $46,410 $58,200
45 Texas, Austin

   62 Purdue $46,522 $46,890
   71 Va Tech $49,000
111 S. Carolina $51,286 $46,367
143 Kansas St $44,727
170 Pace $46,500 $62,000
r-7 Cal Poly $52,000
r-22 W. Wash. U $42,254
n/a Wichita $38,422 $41,905
n/a C. Michigan $45,108

The average starting salaries for accounting and nursing majors have less correlation to the U.S. News reports rankings.   For both accounting and nursing the highest wages were seen in middle ranking universities. The low for Accounting was $38,422 and the high was $52,000.   Nurses made $41,905 average as a low and $62,000 as the high.    The variation between high and low in Accounting was 35% and the spread between nursing was 48%.

Thats a basic run down of the numbers I found.   I will talk some more about the data tomorrow and give some of my own conclusions.

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