PayScale Report: CMC Grads Have Highest Starting Salaries

There is much debate in the public arena over the value of a liberal arts education in the competitive job market, and whether a liberal arts degree has long-term value. The New York Times recently published “Do Elite Colleges Produce the Best Paid Grads?” (7/20/09), which addressed compensation data collected by PayScale, a company that gathers information for and maintains a database of compensation data from more than 1.2 million users.

According to the PayScale College Salary Report, graduates of Claremont McKenna College rank first in PayScale’s liberal arts college category with a starting median salary (five years or fewer post graduation) of $58,300. This figure includes signing bonuses. The mid-career median salary of $102,000 (ten years post graduation), including bonuses, is in the top 10 percent of liberal arts colleges and the top eight percent of all colleges and universities, according to the PayScale categories. Graduates with advanced degrees were excluded from the data contained in the PayScale report.

“Claremont McKenna College continues to prepare our students well for the work world, in careers ranging from finance and accounting to government service and the non-profit sector,” said CMC President Pamela Gann. “Even in this challenging economic environment, our graduates are earning starting salaries significantly higher than average, and salaries that are nearly twelve percent higher than last year.”

According to PayScale, the average of the median starting salaries for all colleges in the survey was $42,417. In comparison, CMC graduates’ median starting salary is 37 percent higher than the survey average. CMC graduates fare equally well in mid-career (10 years post graduation) with a median salary of $102,000, 31 percent greater than the survey’s mid-career average of $77,588.

“We strive to provide our graduates with the value proposition that a degree from CMC is highly-valued in the marketplace, and the data from this survey supports a good return on investment in a CMC education,” adds Gann. “We are in good company, as well. Other liberal arts colleges ranking in the top ten for starting salary include Bucknell, Swarthmore, Amherst, Colgate, and Pomona among others.”

Among all 630 colleges and universities listed in the report, CMC does remarkably well, ranking 20th overall for median starting salaries and placing us below heavy engineering powerhouses such as MIT, Harvey Mudd, Caltech, and Stanford, but ahead of other elite and Ivy League schools such as Dartmouth, Cornell, Yale, Brown, Georgetown, Rice, Columbia, Johns Hopkins, Duke, Notre Dame, UC Berkeley, UCLA, USC and Williams.

Each year, CMC’s Career Services Center surveys graduates reporting within three months of graduation. The results for 2009 indicate that 51 percent of the graduating class is going directly into employment. Sixteen percent of the class plan to pursue graduate or professional school, 5 percent received a National Award or Fellowship, 8 percent will be traveling for more than four months, 16 percent fell into the Other category (internships, volunteer work, part-time employment, preparing for grad school, etc.), and 5 percent had no plans or were undecided.

Of those 2009 CMC graduates who completed the graduate survey and had accepted employment offers, the average starting salary, including signing bonuses, is an impressive $58,733.

Combined, the data demonstrates that a quality liberal arts education has clear short- and long-term market value.