Can This Non-Harvard Ivy League Degree Boost Your Salary by Over $80,000?

Can This Non-Harvard Ivy League Degree Boost Your Salary by Over $80,000?

Can This Non-Harvard Ivy League Degree Boost Your Salary by Over $80,000?
Can This Non-Harvard Ivy League Degree Boost Your Salary by Over $80,000?


Earning a bachelor’s degree from virtually any college can significantly boost your income potential. According to the National Center for Education Statistics, among full-time workers aged 25 to 34, those with a bachelor’s degree had a median annual income of $61,600 in 2020, compared to just $39,700 for those with only a high school diploma.

However, specific colleges can have an even greater impact on your earnings. The University of Pennsylvania, for instance, is known to add an estimated $80,000 annually to your salary, according to The Wall Street Journal’s college and university rankings.

Employers often value a school’s reputation and may actively seek graduates from top-tier institutions. Yet, the on-campus experience also plays a vital role. Penn, for example, has a track record of guiding its students toward successful careers in various fields, offering numerous opportunities for personal and academic growth.

Emma Morgenstern, a Penn alum and senior producer of the food podcast “The Sporkful,” highlights the school’s vibrant community of engaged and intelligent individuals. She notes that Penn’s larger size translates to more opportunities, while still maintaining a close relationship between students and faculty.

The Wall Street Journal’s ranking methodology considers two key factors:

  1. Salary Impact Compared to Similar Colleges: It assesses how a degree from one college affects your salary compared to degrees from similar institutions.
  2. Time to Repay College Costs: It takes into account the average net price students pay each year after financial aid and scholarships, as well as the estimated value added to your salary.

Notably, five of the eight Ivy League schools feature in the top 10 colleges with the most substantial salary impact. Only one public institution, the Missouri University of Science and Technology, made it into the top 10.

Here are the 4 colleges and universities with the greatest potential impact on your salary, ranked by their cumulative score, which reflects the theoretical salary boost from attending each school compared to what you might have earned without considering the school attended.


1. University of Pennsylvania—Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

  • Average net price: $14,851
  • Value added to graduate salary: $84,761
  • Time to pay off net price: 8 months


2. Princeton University—Princeton, New Jersey

  • Average net price: $11,080
  • Value added to graduate salary: $82,433
  • Time to pay off net price: 6 months


3. Columbia University—New York, New York

  • Average net price: $12,836
  • Value added to graduate salary: $71,540
  • Time to pay off net price: 8 months


4. Massachusetts Institute of Technology—Cambridge, Massachusetts

  • Average net price: $5,084
  • Value added to graduate salary: $94,213
  • Time to pay off net price: 2 months



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