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Grads at this college earn the most—and it's not MIT, Harvard or Stanford

© Provided by CNBC   SUNY Maritime College

By Abigail Hess, CNBC

Going to a top college can really pay off. On average, graduates from the best schools in the country earn well over six-figures mid-way through their careers. But as the cost of college rises and wage growth remains stubbornly low, carefully deciding where to spend your college years has become more important than ever before.

Salary comparison site PayScale recently analyzed 2,646 associate and bachelor's degree-granting institutions throughout the U.S. in order to determine which students earned the most after graduation. When they looked at the median salaries of graduates who only had a bachelor's degree, they found that 10 colleges produced students with sky-high salaries five and 10 years into their careers.

Surprisingly, only two Ivy League schools made the list. In fact, the number one school for salary potential is a small liberal arts college with a total undergraduate enrollment of just 844.

Here are the 10 colleges where graduates earn the most, according to PayScale:


10. SUNY Maritime College

Early career salary: $73,300

Mid-career salary: $140,100

State: New York


9. Princeton University

Early career salary: $72,700

Mid-career salary: $141,300

State: New Jersey


8. United States Military Academy

Early career salary: $79,300

Mid-career salary: $141,900

State: New York


6. Albany College of Pharmacy and Health Sciences (tie)


Early career salary: $80,200

Mid-career salary: $142,600

State: New York


6. Harvard University (tie)

Early career salary: $72,600

Mid-career salary: $142,600

State: Massachusetts


4. California Institute of Technology (tie)

Early career salary: $83,400

Mid-career salary: $143,100

State: California

4. Stanford University (tie)

Early career salary: $76,500

Mid-career salary: $143,100

State: California


3. United States Naval Academy

Early career salary: $78,600

Mid-career salary: $149,800

State: Maryland


2. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

Early career salary: $83,600

Mid-career salary: $150,400

State: Massachusetts


1. Harvey Mudd College

Early career salary: $85,600

Mid-career salary: $157,400

State: California

Harvey Mudd College in Claremont, California topped PayScale's list. Harvey Mudd alumni make an average of $85,600 five years into their careers, and $157,400 10 years into their careers. Founded in 1955, Harvey Mudd is a liberal arts college that focuses on undergraduate engineering and science.

Second on the list is the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT), which also has an emphasis on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) education. Several other STEM-focused institutions ranked highly, including the California Institute of Technology.

Studying in a STEM field may be the secret to high salaries from these schools. All 10 of the 10 highest paying majors fit into the STEM category and across fields, STEM majors consistently have some of the highest rates of employment and the highest incomes.

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Career Advice: Grads at this college earn the most—and it's not MIT, Harvard or Stanford
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