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100 colleges with the best ROI

100 colleges with the best ROI

They say the college years are the best of your life. They shape the way you see the world, the passions you wish to pursue, and the person you hope to be. But much more than an emotional, personal, and professional starting point, college is a significant financial investment.

In the last 10 years, the cost of college has gone up by more than 25%, according to CNBC. For the 2019 academic year, private colleges cost an average of $48,510 per year, and public ones cost $21,370. After four years, and in many cases five to six years, that cost can stack up significantly, so you’re going to want to ensure that you’re putting your dollars into an institution that is going to make it worth your while. Luckily, those who have a bachelor’s degree earn about $32,000 more annually than those without, reports the Association of Public & Land-Grant Universities. But some colleges have a higher return on investment than others.

Stacker compiled a list of the colleges with the best return on investment, using a 2019 study by Anthony P. Carnevale, Ban Cheah, and Martin Van Der Werf at Georgetown University. Colleges that primarily issue bachelor’s degrees were considered. Colleges are ranked by the highest 40-year ROI, with ties broken by 10-year ROI. The study considered net present value, balancing today's costs against future earnings.

Universities that specialize in STEM studies (science, technology, engineering, and math) tend to have a higher return on investment for their graduates. STEM has gained ground over the past 10 years as more and more careers have a need for science and tech knowledge. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 8.5 million STEM jobs in 2015, which represented 6.2% of employment in the United States. Ninety-three percent of STEM occupations have wages above the national average, as well.

Colleges that focus in pharmaceuticals also show the strongest return on investment. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, in 2019 there were more than 300,000 pharmacist jobs, and the median wage was $128,090.

Now it's time to take a look at the colleges that made the cut. Keep reading to see the 100 colleges with the best ROI. Is your college on the list?

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#100. Wake Forest University

- 40-year net present value: $1,282,000
- 10-year net present value: $86,000
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Median debt: $22,750

North Carolina's Wake Forest University is composed of six separate schools on a 340-acre campus. It is renowned for its sports program, as well as its graduate programs in law, business, and medicine. It's ranked #28 on U.S. News & World Report's 2021 edition of Best Colleges.

#99. University of Connecticut-Waterbury Campus

- 40-year net present value: $1,283,000
- 10-year net present value: $189,000
- Graduation rate: 58%
- Median debt: $18,750

The University of Connecticut-Waterbury Campus is a small institution with an enrollment of less than 1,000. Roughly 58% of its graduates go on to full-time employment, while 23% pursue higher education. The mean starting salary for graduates is $55,390.

#98. University of Connecticut-Stamford

- 40-year net present value: $1,288,000
- 10-year net present value: $193,000
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Median debt: $18,750

The University of Connecticut-Stamford campus is located in Fairfield County, with close proximity to New York City and the major metropolises of the tri-state area. As such, the university allows for internships, field placements, and jobs with Fortune 500 companies, investment and banking institutions, community agencies, and nonprofit organizations. Fifty-seven percent of students who graduated in 2019 reported finding full-time employment, while 28% were seeking graduate programs, according to the Hartford Courant.

#97. Capitol Technology University

- 40-year net present value: $1,288,000
- 10-year net present value: $90,000
- Graduation rate: 52%
- Median debt: $16,625

Maryland's Capitol Technology University specializes in niche areas like aviation, data science, computational systems, cybersecurity, security intelligence, and engineering, among others. Eighty percent of full-time students receive some form of financial aid, and 82% had job offers (or pursued graduate school) within 90 days of commencement.

#96. University of Virginia-Main Campus

- 40-year net present value: $1,291,000
- 10-year net present value: $144,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $16,500

The University of Virginia, founded in 1819, is one of the top nationally ranked schools, known for its academic medical center, research, arts, and athletics programs. According to its 2019 First Destinations Report, 67% of graduates went on to full-time employment, while 15% went on to continuing education. The internet and software industry received the highest percentage of graduates, with 13% of graduates finding careers there.

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#95. Boston University

- 40-year net present value: $1,294,000
- 10-year net present value: $70,000
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Median debt: $23,500

Boston University has more than 300 programs of academic study, making it one of the most comprehensive undergraduate programs in the country. The proof is in the pudding, as many students go on to lucrative careers in finance, technology, consulting, and more. The average base salary of graduates is $60,889.

#94. Binghamton University

- 40-year net present value: $1,298,000
- 10-year net present value: $143,000
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Median debt: $16,750

New York state's Binghamton University is a public university founded in 1946. It's a fairly large university with an undergraduate enrollment of more than 14,000, according to U.S. News & World Report. Students who graduate from Binghamton go on to earn much more than the national average, with starting salaries averaging nearly $61,000 per year.

#93. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

- 40-year net present value: $1,299,000
- 10-year net present value: $146,000
- Graduation rate: 85%
- Median debt: $17,750

Founded in 1867, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a research institution that also has a strong arts program, offering nearly 5,000 courses across more than 150 fields of study. According to the findings from the 2018-2019 graduating class, 93% secured a first destination of employment, with an average starting salary of $64,000 for those with full-time jobs.

#92. Wentworth Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,299,000
- 10-year net present value: $79,000
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Median debt: $22,500

Wentworth Institute of Technology is a private, technical design and engineering institution located in Boston, Massachusetts. Its students earn a median starting salary of $64,000 a year, and 96% of 2019 graduates accepted a job in their field.

#91. University of California-Los Angeles

- 40-year net present value: $1,300,000
- 10-year net present value: $162,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $14,544

The University of California-Los Angeles is a world-famous institution whose graduates go on to score jobs at companies like Amazon, Bloomberg, Apple, Deloitte, Getty, Google, and Teach for America, among others. The Wall Street Journal named it third-best college in the west for student outcomes, meaning how well a college prepares students for life after graduation.

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#90. Pepperdine University

- 40-year net present value: $1,312,000
- 10-year net present value: $85,000
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Median debt: $24,250

Ranked in the top 50 best universities in the nation by U.S. News & World Report, Pepperdine University has a small undergraduate enrollment of less than 3,600. According to PayScale, graduates earn an average starting salary of $73,824 with an annual ROI of 4.8%.

#89. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University

- 40-year net present value: $1,313,000
- 10-year net present value: $142,000
- Graduation rate: 84%
- Median debt: $21,110

Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University, also known as Virginia Tech, is a public research university based in Blacksburg, Virginia. Its students earn an average starting salary of $75,952 with an annual ROI of 10.3%.

#88. University of Richmond

- 40-year net present value: $1,317,000
- 10-year net present value: $108,000
- Graduation rate: 88%
- Median debt: $19,500

University of Richmond is a private, liberal arts university with undergraduate enrollment of less than 3,500. There was a 96% six-month employment rate for 2019 graduates. The primary fields of employment were financial services, accounting, consulting, and clinical healthcare.

#87. Union College

- 40-year net present value: $1,317,000
- 10-year net present value: $91,000
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Median debt: $23,000

Union College, located in Schenectady, New York, is one of the oldest institutions in America. It was founded in 1795. From the 2019 graduating class, 93.5% reported full-time employment, or graduate school enrollment, or postgraduate fellowships following graduation. The top employment fields were engineering, finance, healthcare, and sales.

#86. Colgate University

- 40-year net present value: $1,322,000
- 10-year net present value: $130,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $15,500

Located in Hamilton, New York, Colgate University is a liberal arts college that has 56 majors rooted in the liberal arts. It is also known for its student to faculty ratio, which is 9:1. According to PayScale, it has an annual ROI of 6.4%, and its graduates go on to land jobs at companies like Ernst & Young, Eastern Research Group, and The Bowdoin Group.

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#85. Ohio Northern University

- 40-year net present value: $1,326,000
- 10-year net present value: $136,000
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Median debt: $24,466

Ohio Northern University is a private institution located in Ada, Ohio. It offers more than 60 academic programs in arts, sciences, business, engineering, law, and pharmacy. Ninety-five percent of students go on to find job placement or continue onto graduate school following graduation.

#84. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona

- 40-year net present value: $1,327,000
- 10-year net present value: $86,000
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Median debt: $12,250

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Daytona offers degrees in arts, sciences, aviation, business, and engineering. PayScale reports that the university has an annual ROI of 7.2% and its students earn an average starting salary of $82,339.

#83. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott

- 40-year net present value: $1,328,000
- 10-year net present value: $87,000
- Graduation rate: 61%
- Median debt: $12,250

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Prescott is the Arizona campus of Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University. The average starting salary is $51,000, according to College Factual, meaning it will take 3.4 years after graduation to break even on the cost of a degree.

#82. University of Maryland-College Park

- 40-year net present value: $1,330,000
- 10-year net present value: $151,000
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Median debt: $16,500

University of Maryland is a public research university located in College Park, Maryland. According to its recent graduation survey, 95% of UMD bachelor's recipients secured employment, began a graduate program, or had a related outcome within six months of graduation. Eighty-three percent of students participated in at least one internship during their time at the university, as well.

#81. Manhattan College

- 40-year net present value: $1,333,000
- 10-year net present value: $115,000
- Graduation rate: 73%
- Median debt: $21,500

Located in the Bronx borough of New York City, Manhattan College is a private, liberal arts college known for its more than 100 majors and programs. Eighty-three percent of students gain job-related experiences while attending, which fuels the 87% of alumni who go on to work in their desired fields.

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#80. Trinity College

- 40-year net present value: $1,335,000
- 10-year net present value: $96,000
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Median debt: $19,000

Trinity College, located in Hartford, Connecticut, is a liberal arts college with nearly 200 years of history. According to Niche, 93% of students are able to secure employment within two years of graduating.

#79. Amherst College

- 40-year net present value: $1,343,000
- 10-year net present value: $125,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $12,000

The historic Amherst College was founded in 1821 in Massachusetts. It's a liberal arts college with a need-blind admission policy, meaning Amherst will make the admission decision without considering your need for financial aid. The college meets the full demonstrated need of every admitted student, as well.

#78. Bowdoin College

- 40-year net present value: $1,350,000
- 10-year net present value: $122,000
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Median debt: $16,778

Located in Brunswick, Maine, Bowdoin is a small, suburban college. According to the Class of 2018 report, 89% of alumni were employed or in graduate school within one year of graduation. Some employers of Bowdoin grads include Amazon, Americorps, Bloomberg, Barclays, Conde Nast, Microsoft, and Apple, among others.

#77. Capella University

- 40-year net present value: $1,350,000
- 10-year net present value: $158,000
- Graduation rate: data not available
- Median debt: $9,500

Capella University is an online university with 52 degree programs and more than 1,900 online courses. There are approximately 38,000 students enrolled. The average salary for Capella University graduates is nearly $70,000, according to PayScale.

#76. American Public University System

- 40-year net present value: $1,350,000
- 10-year net present value: $181,000
- Graduation rate: 39%
- Median debt: $5,500

American Public University System is an online learning institution with more than 86,000 active students worldwide. According to PayScale, the average salary for graduates is $68,174. Graduates go on to careers with the U.S. Army, the U.S. Air Force, and Caci International Inc., among others.

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#75. Augusta University

- 40-year net present value: $1,360,000
- 10-year net present value: $192,000
- Graduation rate: 27%
- Median debt: $11,869

Augusta University, located in Augusta, Georgia, is a public university and academic medical center. The medical college of the university is the oldest and founding branch of the institution. According to College Factual, the average yearly cost is $28,000 and the average starting salary is $52,000. Based on an average of 4.9 years to graduate, alumni can expect to break even in just 2.6 years.

#74. Loyola University Maryland

- 40-year net present value: $1,363,000
- 10-year net present value: $86,000
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Median debt: $26,511

Loyola University Maryland is a private, Jesuit liberal arts college in Baltimore, Maryland, founded in 1852. While attending school, more than 80% of students participate in an internship or field experience. Ninety-eight percent of graduates are employed, in graduate school, or completing a year of service within six to nine months of graduation. Recently, an anonymous donor gave $2 million to the university to fund scholarships for undergraduate students.

#73. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

- 40-year net present value: $1,364,000
- 10-year net present value: $176,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $18,148

With more than 275 degree programs and 19 schools and colleges, the University of Michigan is one of the largest private institutions in the country. In 2017, 71% of students secured full-time employment after graduation, while 20% went on to further education.

#72. Emory University

- 40-year net present value: $1,372,000
- 10-year net present value: $135,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $18,222

Atlanta's Emory University was founded in 1836 and has nine academic divisions across a variety of fields. Its business school is particularly highly reputable, with 96% of graduates receiving offers within three months of graduation, with an average starting salary of $69,036.

#71. Drexel University

- 40-year net present value: $1,374,000
- 10-year net present value: $84,000
- Graduation rate: 70%
- Median debt: $20,500

Located in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, Drexel University is known for its cooperative education program, which offers students the chance to earn up to 18 months of paid, full-time work experience in a field that pertains to their major. Sixty-four percent of job applicants had at least one job offer upon graduation in 2018. Ninety-six percent of undergraduates were working or enrolled in graduate or professional education within a year of graduation.

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#70. Virginia Military Institute

- 40-year net present value: $1,375,000
- 10-year net present value: $143,000
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Median debt: $19,500

The Virginia Military Institute is a public military college in Lexington, Virginia. According to The New York Times, the median family income of students is $120,500. That said, students who attend are likely to move up in income after graduation. In 2017, 17% of students moved up two or more income quintiles.

#69. Brown University

- 40-year net present value: $1,377,000
- 10-year net present value: $112,000
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Median debt: $15,439

Brown University is one of America's oldest institutions, founded in 1764. Today it is one of the prestigious universities in the Ivy League and one of nine colonial colleges chartered before the American Revolution. Students who graduate go on to achieve notable careers and titles, the highest percentages of which include director/manager, physician, postgraduate student, and attorney.

#68. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science

- 40-year net present value: $1,378,000
- 10-year net present value: $161,000
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Median debt: $10,000

The Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art is one of the most exclusive schools in America. It grants degrees in art, architecture, and engineering, located in New York City. The institution awards all admitted undergraduates a half-tuition scholarship. Additional financial aid is awarded on a by-need basis.

#67. University of California-Berkeley

- 40-year net present value: $1,383,000
- 10-year net present value: $170,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $12,643

University of California-Berkeley is a public research university in Northern California. Its leading areas include the Mathematical Sciences Research Institute and the Space Sciences Laboratory. Average starting salary for the class of 2019 was $75,000. Graduates of the College of Engineering had an average starting salary of more than $100,000.

#66. Northeastern University

- 40-year net present value: $1,385,000
- 10-year net present value: $122,000
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Median debt: $25,000

Based in Boston, with campuses all over the country, Northeastern University is known for its co-op (cooperative education) program, which integrates classroom study with professional work experience. As a result, 98% of students are employed or in graduate school within nine months of graduation.

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#65. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University-Worldwide

- 40-year net present value: $1,391,000
- 10-year net present value: $151,000
- Graduation rate: 25%
- Median debt: $12,250

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a private university focused on aviation and aerospace programs. It has campuses in Daytona Beach, Florida, and Prescott, Arizona. According to PayScale, it has an annual ROI of 7.2%, and the average early-career salary for graduates is $69,200.

#64. Rice University

- 40-year net present value: $1,393,000
- 10-year net present value: $167,000
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Median debt: $10,000

Rice University is a Houston-based research university with an emphasis on applied science, space science, and nanotechnology. After graduating, 61% of students go on to gain employment in a regular organization. The majority of students pursue careers in business and finance, architecture and engineering, and computer and mathematical occupations.

#63. Bryant University

- 40-year net present value: $1,393,000
- 10-year net present value: $94,000
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Median debt: $26,000

Located in Smithfield, Rhode Island, Bryant University is composed of two colleges: the College of Arts and Sciences and the College of Business. Most students attend for business, but are required to complete a liberal arts minor. Students majoring in the College of Arts and Sciences must also complete a business minor. Ninety-nine percent of the class of 2018 was employed or continuing education within six months of graduation, and $60,000 was the median first-year salary.

#62. Lafayette College

- 40-year net present value: $1,409,000
- 10-year net present value: $123,000
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Median debt: $22,500

Lafayette College is a private liberal arts college in Easton, Pennsylvania. It was founded in 1826 and is considered a "Hidden Ivy" university. Its graduates go on to secure employment from some of the world’s most reputable companies, including Bank of America Corporation, Deloitte, Fidelity Investments, Pfizer, and Teach For America, among many others.

#61. California Polytechnic State University-San Luis Obispo

- 40-year net present value: $1,413,000
- 10-year net present value: $160,000
- Graduation rate: 79%
- Median debt: $16,500

Based in San Luis Obispo, California, California Polytechnic State University is one of two polytechnics in the California State University system. It focuses on undergraduate education, combining technical curriculum with liberal arts. Of the 75% that secured full-time jobs after graduation, 80% of those had job offers before they graduated. Ninety-five percent found jobs related to their majors.

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#60. Bucknell University

- 40-year net present value: $1,417,000
- 10-year net present value: $90,000
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Median debt: $25,250

Bucknell University, located in Lewisburg, Pennsylvania, is a pirate liberal arts college with a college of arts and sciences, a college of management, and a college of engineering. The average starting salary of the class of 2019 was $60,560.

#59. George Washington University

- 40-year net present value: $1,418,000
- 10-year net present value: $114,000
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Median debt: $21,500

George Washington University, located in Washington D.C., has 10 schools, 70 research centers, and a large network of libraries. According to PayScale, graduates go on to obtain high-paying careers in industries like research analysis and software engineering.

#58. University of Chicago

- 40-year net present value: $1,420,000
- 10-year net present value: $144,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $14,853

The University of Chicago is a research university that was founded in 1890. It is considered to be one of the top universities in the world for arts and sciences, as well as its professional schools. In particular, UChicago students have an 83-88% acceptance rate at the top 15 law schools and an 80-88% acceptance rate into medical school.

#57. College of the Holy Cross

- 40-year net present value: $1,421,000
- 10-year net present value: $90,000
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Median debt: $27,000

College of the Holy Cross is a Jesuit liberal arts college located in Massachusetts and offers 42 majors. From the class of 2019, 68% of students are employed full-time. The largest percentage of graduates work in financial services, followed by health care, then government, politics, and law.

#56. Michigan Technological University

- 40-year net present value: $1,430,000
- 10-year net present value: $185,000
- Graduation rate: 67%
- Median debt: $19,500

Michigan Technological University is a research university located in Houghton, Michigan. Its focus is in engineering, science, computing, business, tech, and more. Through its co-op program, students take their knowledge of their chosen field for a test run, which has helped the 94% placement rating for graduates.

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#55. Washington University in St. Louis

- 40-year net present value: $1,448,000
- 10-year net present value: $134,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $18,500

Washington University in St. Louis is a private research university renowned for its programs in arts and science, business, design, engineering, law, public health, and more. Seventy-four percent of 2019 grads entered the workforce, securing work in industries like finance and banking, academia, healthcare, technology, and consulting.

#54. New Jersey Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,453,000
- 10-year net present value: $169,000
- Graduation rate: 62%
- Median debt: $18,250

The New Jersey Institute of Technology is a public research university with a renowned engineering college. According to The New York Times, 31% of graduates in 2017 moved up two or more income quintiles, while 6.5% moved from the bottom to the top income quintile.

#53. Fairfield University

- 40-year net present value: $1,454,000
- 10-year net present value: $103,000
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Median debt: $23,000

The private Jesuit Fairfield University, located in Connecticut, offers degrees across its four colleges. The most popular majors according to Niche.com are nursing, finance, marketing, and accounting. The class of 2019 saw 98% of students secure full-time employment, placement in graduate school, or enrollment in a volunteer service program within six months of graduation.

#52. Northwestern University

- 40-year net present value: $1,455,000
- 10-year net present value: $162,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $16,500

Northwestern University is a private institution that was founded in 1851. The most popular majors for undergraduates are economics, journalism, psychology, political science, and neuroscience, according to U.S. News & World Report. Seventy-three percent of the class of 2019 was employed six months after graduation in fields like finance, consulting, engineering, and communications.

#51. Illinois Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,462,000
- 10-year net present value: $167,000
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Median debt: $22,500

Located in Chicago, Illinois, the Illinois Institute of Technology is a private research university specializing in architecture, business, communications, design, engineering, technology, law, psychology, and science. Mean starting salaries for graduates average $62,274, and graduates go on to gain employment at corporations like Google, Honeywell, Microsoft, and The Boeing Company, among others.

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#50. Vanderbilt University

- 40-year net present value: $1,462,000
- 10-year net present value: $169,000
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Median debt: $13,440

Vanderbilt University, located in Nashville, Tennessee, is a private research university founded in 1873. Sixty-five percent of Vanderbilt students currently receive some form of financial aid, as the university meets 100% of every student's demonstrated financial need without loans.

#49. University of the Pacific

- 40-year net present value: $1,472,000
- 10-year net present value: $129,000
- Graduation rate: 69%
- Median debt: $20,121

Located in Northern California, University of the Pacific's most popular majors include business, management, and marketing; biological and biomedical sciences; and engineering, according to U.S. News & World Report. Ninety-three percent of employed graduates indicate that their current position is related to their career objective.

#48. Boston College

- 40-year net present value: $1,476,000
- 10-year net present value: $117,000
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Median debt: $18,962

Boston College, founded in 1863, is a private institution located just outside downtown Boston. Its most popular majors, according to U.S. News & World Report, include economics, finance, biology, speech communication, and political science. For the class of 2019, 21% received job offers before first semester senior year. The top employers were Ernst and Young, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Oracle.

#47. Clarkson University

- 40-year net present value: $1,482,000
- 10-year net present value: $132,000
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Median debt: $24,250

Clarkson University, located in Potsdam, New York, was founded in 1896. Small class sizes allow for a greater focus of attention on each student, and according to U.S. News & World Report, more than 50% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Popular majors include engineering, business administration, biological sciences, computer science, and psychology. Students who participated in a co-op in 2017 had a 99% rate of job placement.

#46. Neumont College of Computer Science

- 40-year net present value: $1,492,000
- 10-year net present value: $192,000
- Graduation rate: 56%
- Median debt: $23,041

Neumont College of Computer Science is a for-profit college focused on sculpting the tech minds of the future. All students earn a Bachelor of Science degree focused on computer science. Jobs in the computer science field are projected to grow 15% from 2019 to 2029, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics.

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#45. Santa Clara University

- 40-year net present value: $1,493,000
- 10-year net present value: $133,000
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Median debt: $19,166

Santa Clara University, located in Silicon Valley, has a student-faculty ratio of 10:1, according to U.S. News & World Report. Its most popular majors are business, social sciences, engineering, communication, and psychology. From the class of 2019, 87.9% of graduates are employed. Their median salary is $62,500.

#44. Johns Hopkins University

- 40-year net present value: $1,508,000
- 10-year net present value: $136,000
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Median debt: $12,645

Johns Hopkins University, located in Maryland, is a leading private research university recognized for its work in arts and sciences, engineering, medicine, public health, business, and education. According to PayScale, Johns Hopkins University graduates have an average early career salary of $72,800 in industries like software engineering, data science, project management, and mechanical engineering.

#43. Claremont McKenna College

- 40-year net present value: $1,516,000
- 10-year net present value: $150,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $13,000

Located in Claremont, California, Claremont McKenna College is a liberal arts college known for its small class sizes—U.S. News & World Report says the student-faculty ratio is 8:1. Its most popular majors include econometrics, political science, experimental psychology, international relations, and accounting. The average full-time salary is more than $63,000 after graduation, with graduates finding jobs in industries like accounting, consulting, government, and medicine.

#42. Case Western Reserve University

- 40-year net present value: $1,519,000
- 10-year net present value: $121,000
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Median debt: $22,000

Case Western Reserve in Cleveland, Ohio, is a small, private institution known for its research, more than 200 student organizations, and specialty graduate programs including engineering, management, and law. Upon graduation, the largest percentage of students go on to careers in engineering, nursing, research and science, and finance.

#41. University of Southern California

- 40-year net present value: $1,520,000
- 10-year net present value: $133,000
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Median debt: $21,250

Located in Los Angeles, the University of Southern California is one of the largest private institutions in the country. That said, it has a highly favorable student-faculty ratio at 8:1. Popular majors include business, social sciences, visual and performing arts, and journalism. According to PayScale, early career salaries average $66,100, with the highest-paying jobs including those in software engineering, project management, and mechanical engineering,.

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#40. Milwaukee School of Engineering

- 40-year net present value: $1,520,000
- 10-year net present value: $183,000
- Graduation rate: 65%
- Median debt: $25,500

The Milwaukee School of Engineering is a small school that offers 16 bachelor's degrees, 10 of which are in engineering. The university includes a four-year graduation guarantee, and 96% of graduates are either employed or going to grad school within six months of graduation.

#39. Tufts University

- 40-year net present value: $1,543,000
- 10-year net present value: $122,000
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Median debt: $16,052

Tufts University, located in Medford, Massachusetts, is comprised of the School of Arts and Sciences and the School of Engineering. According to U.S. News & World Report, 68.1% of classes have fewer than 20 students. Popular majors include social sciences, computer and information sciences, engineering, and biomedical sciences. The top industries where graduates land careers are finance, engineering, and life sciences/health.

#38. Missouri University of Science and Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,548,000
- 10-year net present value: $213,000
- Graduation rate: 64%
- Median debt: $16,998

The Missouri University of Science and Technology is a public university where the most popular majors include engineering, computer sciences, biomedical sciences, and physical sciences. The university offers its students career opportunities and employer relations services, which facilitates the relationship between employers and students and alumni by offering on-campus interviews, active recruitment, and jobs posted specifically for S&T students.

#37. Dartmouth College

- 40-year net present value: $1,561,000
- 10-year net present value: $146,000
- Graduation rate: 96%
- Median debt: $12,000

Dartmouth College, located in Hanover, New Hampshire, is a prestigious private college that is part of the Ivy League. The student-faculty ratio is strong at 7:1, according to U.S. News & World Report. Popular majors include social sciences, engineering, biomedical sciences, computer sciences, and math. More than 52% of graduates have average starting salaries above $70,000.

#36. Villanova University

- 40-year net present value: $1,563,000
- 10-year net present value: $103,000
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Median debt: $25,000

Villanova University is known for its programs in business, health, engineering, social sciences, and communication. The average starting salary for the class of 2019 was $62,524, with 75.5% of graduates securing employment after graduation.

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#35. Washington and Lee University

- 40-year net present value: $1,578,000
- 10-year net present value: $152,000
- Graduation rate: 92%
- Median debt: $19,500

Washington and Lee University, located in Lexington, Virginia, is a small, private institution set on 430 acres. Its student-faculty ratio is 8:1 and 76.9% of its classes have fewer than 20 students, according to U.S. News & World Report. Popular majors include economics, business, political science, accounting, and history. Upon graduation, the most common fields where students found employment were financial services, economics, education, and consulting.

#34. Cornell University

- 40-year net present value: $1,607,000
- 10-year net present value: $160,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $12,305

Located in Ithaca, New York, Cornell University is a large, private institution with more than 1,000 student organizations on campus. Popular majors include engineering, business, biomedical sciences, computer sciences, and agriculture. From the class of 2019, the majority of graduates secured employment in technology, financial services, and consulting. The average starting salary is $66,000.

#33. DigiPen Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,616,000
- 10-year net present value: $113,000
- Graduation rate: 41%
- Median debt: $21,875

The small for-profit school of DigiPen Institute of Technology is located in Redmond, Washington. Its most popular majors include animation, interactive technology, computer programming, virtual environments, and music theory. According to PayScale, graduates go on to secure employment in fields like software engineering, video game programming, and software development.

#32. University of Notre Dame

- 40-year net present value: $1,626,000
- 10-year net present value: $157,000
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Median debt: $20,750

University of Notre Dame, located in South Bend, Indiana, is divided into eight schools and colleges. The most popular majors include economics, finance, political science, mechanical engineering, and computer science. According to PayScale, the average early career salary for graduates is $68,300, and graduates go on to secure employment in software engineering, mechanical engineering, and financial analysis.

#31. Princeton University

- 40-year net present value: $1,642,000
- 10-year net present value: $242,000
- Graduation rate: 97%
- Median debt: $7,500

Princeton University, an Ivy League university located in New Jersey, is one of the most affordable schools in the nation. That's because financial aid covers 100% of tuition for families that earned $65,000 or less. This enabled 82% of recent seniors to graduate without debt.

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#30. Kettering University

- 40-year net present value: $1,662,000
- 10-year net present value: $153,000
- Graduation rate: 57%
- Median debt: $24,500

Kettering University, located in Flint, Michigan, is spread across several colleges, including ones dedicated to engineering, management, and arts & sciences. Undergraduates have the opportunity to participate in the university co-op experience, which has more than 420 partner organizations, putting students front and center with potential employers in their chosen fields.

#29. Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,665,000
- 10-year net present value: $149,000
- Graduation rate: 82%
- Median debt: $27,000

Rose-Hulman Institute of Technology is one of the leading institutions for engineering. In fact, U.S. News & World Report has named it #1 in undergraduate engineering programs at schools where a doctorate isn’t offered for 22 consecutive years. In addition, 100% of students receive financial aid, scholarships, and grants, and 98% of students had a job within six months of graduation, with an average starting salary of $73,000.

#28. Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute

- 40-year net present value: $1,687,000
- 10-year net present value: $150,000
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Median debt: $27,000

Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, located near Albany, New York, is a leading institution when it comes to subjects like cybersecurity, big data, nanotechnology, and biotech. PayScale shows an annual ROI of 6.8%, with an early career salary average of $72,600. Graduates go on to careers in software engineering, mechanical engineering, project engineering, and electrical engineering.

#27. Lehigh University

- 40-year net present value: $1,688,000
- 10-year net present value: $153,000
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Median debt: $21,500

Lehigh University, located in Bethlehem, Pennsylvania, sits on a sprawling 2,355-acre campus. U.S. News & World Report says the most popular majors are finance, mechanical engineering, industrial engineering, accounting, and marketing. Ninety-four percent of students complete one or more internships or experiential learning opportunities while attending, and the average starting salary of 2019 graduates was $67,000.

#26. Worcester Polytechnic Institute

- 40-year net present value: $1,725,000
- 10-year net present value: $133,000
- Graduation rate: 87%
- Median debt: $27,000

Worcester Polytechnic Institute offers more than 50 undergraduate programs in science, engineering, technology, math, business, and the humanities. All students receive a one-time Global Scholarship to complete project work, and the average starting salary for the class of 2019 was more than $72,000.

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#25. Georgia Institute of Technology-Main Campus

- 40-year net present value: $1,729,000
- 10-year net present value: $246,000
- Graduation rate: 86%
- Median debt: $21,500

The Georgia Institute of Technology is a public research university that enrolls about 40,000 students. It is among the nation's largest research universities and receives more than $1 billion each year in research awards. According to PayScale, the annual ROI is 12%, while early career salaries average at $74,500.

#24. Carnegie Mellon University

- 40-year net present value: $1,750,000
- 10-year net present value: $183,000
- Graduation rate: 89%
- Median debt: $24,500

Carnegie Mellon University is a private research university that continues to rank highly for computer science, technology, information systems, and engineering. Starting salaries for the class of 2019 were significantly higher than the national average, at $90,271. Graduates from Carnegie Mellon have gone on to secure employment at companies like Boeing, Capital One, Facebook, Google, Microsoft, and more.

#23. Duke University

- 40-year net present value: $1,754,000
- 10-year net present value: $173,000
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Median debt: $9,000

Duke University is a North Carolina university with roughly 6,500 undergraduates. The top five majors for the class of 2023 include computer science, economics, public policy, biology, and psychology. This year, Duke has ranked second in the country with the Wall Street Journal for student outcomes, which looks at graduation rate, teaching reputation, graduate salaries, and student debt.

#22. SUNY Maritime College

- 40-year net present value: $1,761,000
- 10-year net present value: $210,000
- Graduation rate: 60%
- Median debt: $20,000

SUNY Maritime College, located in Throggs Neck, New York, is a public institution that was founded in the 19th century. The most popular majors include marine science, mechanical engineering, business, naval architecture, and electrical engineering. According to U.S. News & World Report, the tuition is much lower than the national average for both in-state and out-of-state tuition, and PayScale reports that it has an annual ROI of 13%, with an early career salary average of more than $76,000.

#21. Columbia University in the City of New York

- 40-year net present value: $1,769,000
- 10-year net present value: $208,000
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Median debt: $18,794

Located in New York City, Columbia University is one of the world's most prestigious universities, established in 1754. The student-faculty ratio is 6:1 and more than 80% of classes have fewer than 20 students, according to U.S. News & World Report. The most popular majors are social sciences, engineering, computer sciences, biomedical sciences, and visual and performing arts. PayScale reports early career salaries are, on average, $76,100.

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#20. Yale University

- 40-year net present value: $1,777,000
- 10-year net present value: $218,000
- Graduation rate: 98%
- Median debt: $12,000

Yale University is one of the oldest institutions in America. It was founded in New Haven, Connecticut, in 1701. Graduates from the class of 2019 went on to secure employment primarily in finance, academia, consulting, technology, and healthcare. The mean starting salary was $68,472.

#19. Bentley University

- 40-year net present value: $1,786,000
- 10-year net present value: $158,000
- Graduation rate: 90%
- Median debt: $25,000

Bentley University is a private university located in Waltham, Massachusetts, with a focus on business. Top majors include finance, business administration, business management, and accounting. Graduates have a 98% job placement rate, with a median starting salary of $60,000.

#18. Colorado School of Mines

- 40-year net present value: $1,794,000
- 10-year net present value: $203,000
- Graduation rate: 77%
- Median debt: $21,915

Colorado School of Mines is a public research university that offers degrees in engineering, science, and math. The career center at the university works to help students maximize their degree. For the 2018-2019 academic year, more than 1,300 organizations recruited or hired at Mines. The average starting salary was $73,000.

#17. California Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,810,000
- 10-year net present value: $200,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $11,500

The California Institute of Technology is known for its student-faculty ratio, which, according to U.S. News & World Report is 3:1. The Pasadena college is world-renowned for its science and engineering program. The Career Development Center helps students by hosting career fairs twice a year, which bring in more than 150 recruiters from various fields. The class of 2017 had an average starting salary of $105,500.

#16. California State University Maritime Academy

- 40-year net present value: $1,818,000
- 10-year net present value: $265,000
- Graduation rate: 63%
- Median debt: $20,500

California State University Maritime Academy, located near San Francisco, offers degrees in international business and logistics, facilities engineering technology, global studies and maritime affairs, marine engineering technology, marine transportation or mechanical engineering. It has the highest job placement rates of the 23 California State Universities, according to U.S. News & World Report.

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#15. University of Pennsylvania

- 40-year net present value: $1,832,000
- 10-year net present value: $222,000
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Median debt: $12,500

The University of Pennsylvania aims to make its high-quality education affordable for all. The grant-based financial aid program meets 100% of demonstrated financial need with grants and work-study funding. The average starting salary for the class of 2019 was $77,500.

#14. Stevens Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $1,833,000
- 10-year net present value: $162,000
- Graduation rate: 83%
- Median debt: $26,000

Stevens Institute of Technology is a leading university in the fields of artificial intelligence, computing, finance, medicine, nanotechnology, and more. Seventy-seven percent of seniors from the class of 2020 finalized their postgraduate outcomes prior to graduation, and 95% secured jobs within six months. The average starting salary was $77,000.

#13. Harvey Mudd College

- 40-year net present value: $1,851,000
- 10-year net present value: $187,000
- Graduation rate: 95%
- Median debt: $21,254

Harvey Mudd College, located in Claremont, California, is a small institution and is one of the country's top STEM schools. It offers a Bachelor of Science degree to its graduates, and 57% of its classes have fewer than 20 students, according to U.S. News & World Report. Graduates’ median starting salary is $87,500.

#12. Massachusetts Maritime Academy

- 40-year net present value: $1,869,000
- 10-year net present value: $246,000
- Graduation rate: 75%
- Median debt: $23,250

Massachusetts Maritime Academy is a leading institution in the fields of engineering, maritime business, marine transportation, and marine science safety. According to PayScale, there is an annual ROI of 11.9% and the early career salary is $68,600. Graduates go on to obtain careers as project managers, port engineers, environmental health and safety managers, and operations managers.

#11. University of the Sciences

- 40-year net present value: $1,928,000
- 10-year net present value: $211,000
- Graduation rate: 71%
- Median debt: $27,000

University of the Sciences is one of the top schools in the country for healthcare and science. It was opened as the first school of pharmacy in North America. Pharmacists with a bachelor's degree earn a median salary of $134,470-$139,013, according to Salary.com.

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#10. United States Merchant Marine Academy

- 40-year net present value: $1,949,000
- 10-year net present value: $298,000
- Graduation rate: 78%
- Median debt: $6,500

United States Merchant Marine Academy is a federal service academy known for its four-year program that includes service at sea, maritime employment ashore, and serving as a commissioned officer in the U.S. Armed Forces. The Federal Government pays the majority of costs for students enrolled in the academy, including tuition, room and board, uniforms, textbooks, and healthcare.

#9. Georgetown University

- 40-year net present value: $1,950,000
- 10-year net present value: $198,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $14,750

Located in Washington D.C., Georgetown University is a private Jesuit university. Roughly 60% of classes have fewer than 20 students, according to U.S. News & World Report. Popular majors include social sciences, business, interdisciplinary studies, psychology, and biomedical sciences. Seventy-six percent of graduates from 2019 have gone on to secure employment. The top employers were JPMorgan Chase & Co., Deloitte, Ernst & Young, and PricewaterhouseCoopers.

#8. Harvard University

- 40-year net present value: $1,967,000
- 10-year net present value: $286,000
- Graduation rate: 97%
- Median debt: $7,000

Harvard University is the oldest institution of higher learning in the United States. It was established in 1636 and its library has the largest private collection in the world. Harvard University provides need-based aid, regardless of ability to pay. As a result, 20% of students pay nothing to attend, while more than 50% receive need-based scholarships.

#7. Babson College

- 40-year net present value: $1,985,000
- 10-year net present value: $184,000
- Graduation rate: 91%
- Median debt: $24,875

Babson College is a highly rated business school that offers all undergraduates a Bachelor of Science degree. From the 2019 graduating class, 99% were employed or attended graduate school within six months of graduation. Five percent of graduating students started their own business within six months of graduating, and 90% of students had at least one internship during their time there.

#6. Maine Maritime Academy

- 40-year net present value: $2,043,000
- 10-year net present value: $251,000
- Graduation rate: 66%
- Median debt: $27,000

Maine Maritime Academy, located in Castine, Maine, is a public college focused on maritime training. U.S. News & World Report says that the most popular majors are naval architecture and marine engineering, marine science, engineering technologies, international business, and systems engineering. According to PayScale, the average starting salary is $67,600, with an ROI of 11%.

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#5. Stanford University

- 40-year net present value: $2,068,000
- 10-year net present value: $307,000
- Graduation rate: 94%
- Median debt: $10,874

Stanford University, located in Stanford, California, was founded in 1885 and is a private research university, excelling in engineering, computer sciences, social sciences, and math. The university works to make education affordable for all. Tuition is fully covered for undergrads with family incomes below $150,000.

#4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

- 40-year net present value: $2,273,000
- 10-year net present value: $311,000
- Graduation rate: 93%
- Median debt: $15,346

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology is an internationally renowned institution for STEM studies. It is one of five U.S. colleges that is need-blind and full-need for undergraduate students. Six out of 10 students receive financial aid, and seven in ten graduate debt-free. For 2019 graduates entering industry positions, the average starting salary was $98,741.

#3. Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health

- 40-year net present value: $2,421,000
- 10-year net present value: $247,000
- Graduation rate: 76%
- Median debt: $25,000

The Massachusetts College of Pharmacy and Health is a private university focused on medical and health-related programs. According to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be roughly 2.4 million new jobs in healthcare through 2029. According to PayScale, the average early career salary is $65,300.

#2. St. Louis College of Pharmacy

- 40-year net present value: $2,714,000
- 10-year net present value: $389,000
- Graduation rate: 72%
- Median debt: $19,500

St. Louis College of Pharmacy is a small school in Missouri with an enrollment of less than 400 students. According to Niche, the most popular majors include biomedical sciences and molecular medicine and liberal arts and humanities. Alumni go on to earn a starting salary of $120,400.

#1. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health

- 40-year net present value: $2,722,000
- 10-year net present value: $385,000
- Graduation rate: 74%
- Median debt: $25,000

Albany College of Pharmacy and Health, located in Albany, New York, is the best value college in America with the most favorable return on investment. According to PayScale, the return on investment is 9.4%, with an early career salary of $77,700. Graduates have gone on to work for CVS, Wal-Mart. and RBC Wealth Management.

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