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Top Salaries: The Highest Earning Engineering and Computer Science Degrees

Oct. 21, 2013
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Computer science and engineering increasingly show a high return on investment for students. Since 2005, the number of students enrolled in computer science programs has doubled, according to the Office of Institutional Research. According to 2008-2018 projections from the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there will be jobs awaiting every newly minted computer science graduate.

The latest data from the Computing Research Association shows that enrollment rates in undergraduate computer science programs keep increasing — last year alone showed a 9.6% rise. With jobs in demand in these sectors, colleges and universities are aiming to diversify their student body by enhancing interdisciplinary learning and providing programs to help balance their gender ratio.

From having mentorship programs and professional development initiatives to close the gender gap in engineering to creating avenues by which students can optimize their goals, engineering programs are preparing their graduates to gain great experience and earn good salaries.

As part of NerdScholar’s grad survey series, this week we highlight the schools that earn graduates the top 10 average salaries in engineering and computer science. Additionally, we take a look at programs that have helped students get unique experience and specific efforts to assist women — who currently make up about 20% of all engineering and computer science school students — in closing the gender gap in these male dominated fields. Here are the schools that help their graduates earn top salaries:

1) Carnegie Mellon School of Computer Science: $84,409

Carnegie Mellon’s School of Computer Science’s graduates were the top earners with an impressive average annual salary of $84,409. Drawing from multiple disciplines — including engineering, science, mathematics, social sciences, linguistics and design — SCS aims to explore and address the issues and opportunities created by computer technology.

Under the leadership of President Subra Suresh, who was a former director of the National Science Foundation and dean of the College of Engineering at MIT, faculty members have the resources to not only teach based on their vast expertise in multiple fields but also to help guide students through new research and experiential learning.

Furthermore, women at Carnegie Mellon’s School of Engineering have substantial mentoring opportunities. From their undergraduate Sisters Program, which organizes social events and matches first year students with junior and senior women, to their grad/undergrad sisters project, women have a strong and tight knit community to call home at CMU. The Women @SCS is helping to close the gap for women in engineering.

2) Stanford University’s School of Engineering: $74,466

The second highest salary comes from Stanford University’s School of Engineering at $74,466. To face the world’s most pressing global problems, students and faculty are laying the groundwork for some of the most transformative technological innovations in engineering, computer science, medicine and business.

Mehran Sahami, associate chair for education in the Computer Science Department at Stanford, put it this way: “At Stanford, the goal of an education in engineering is to train the next generation of leaders in the field. We want students to have a solid understanding of engineering principles, while also seeing the bigger picture of how engineers can help solve some of the world’s pressing problems. Tackling big problems successfully involves creativity, working with others and understanding how engineering skills can be applied in novel ways. Those are characteristics we seek to instill in our students as part of a world-class education in engineering.”

To encourage more women to gain leadership in the engineering sector, the Stanford Society of Women Engineers provides career and academic development opportunities as well as the chance to serve as mentors to girls interested in pursuing an engineering career. SWE is one of many female focused engineering organizations at Stanford.

3) Harvey Mudd College: $68,833

Committed to providing its engineering undergraduates with broad-based, hands-on experience in engineering analysis, Harvey Mudd College is known to produce the most competent engineers. Its curriculum is focused on an interdisciplinary approach to problem solving.

To give students top-notch research and design experience, Harvey Mudd College created the Clinic program, which brings together teams of juniors and seniors who work under faculty advisors and other external engineers to solve real problems for clients in the public and private sectors.

4) University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering & Applied Science: $66,483

At the University of Pennsylvania’s School of Engineering and Applied Science, students can expect to link real-world practice with theory. Its curriculum is grounded in the liberal arts and features extensive and rigorous professional preparation.

For example, one of the university’s best known efforts to give students real experience is its Senior Design Project Competition in which seniors compete to assemble and design a project to “succinctly articulate [their] design project’s objective, strategy and results to a diverse audience.” The judges represent a diverse set of technology disciplines and spur students to be innovators and entrepreneurs.

The University of Pennsylvania’s engineering department — which has a student enrollment that is 32% female — offers the “Advancing Women in Engineering” program, which is dedicated to developing and maintaining a supportive environment for women at Penn to pursue their engineering goals. Students can get the mentoring and support they need to study and grow while also having opportunities to collaborate with peers and faculty. Additionally, the program helps women explore scholarship opportunities.

5) Cornell University’s College of Engineering: $66,235

Cornell University’s College of Engineering encourages a broad education because in today’s global economy, engineers work with people of many different cultures. Graduates earn an average of $66,235 a year.

The top engineering program among Ivy League universities, Cornell offers resources like the Engineering Leadership Program in which students can attend workshops on such diverse topics as setting goals, leadership ethics, team communication, innovation and creativity.

Sara Hernandez, head of diversity programs at the College of Engineering, put it this way: “Creating access to opportunities for students to network with and learn from alumni and key figures in the public and private sector is a critical component to many of our programs. Our biennial Empowering Women in Science and Engineering Symposium, which focuses on the professional development of women graduate students, postdocs, researchers and junior faculty, is one such example that provides these types of opportunities.”

All students learn how to become leaders and experts in their chosen fields and use their skills to solve pressing societal problems. For example, some students get involved in the “Think Big, Live Green” campaign meant to decrease waste and improve energy consumption on campus.

6) Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Computing: $66,000

Georgia Tech’s College of Computing’s goal is to define the foundations and push the frontiers of computing. Through its Algorithms & Randomness Center, students can be part of exciting research that helps them solve real-world problems.

The college also has a great network of industry partners that bring to the table real world problems and a data and evaluation environment in which students can both solve problems and get experience. It is not unusual for companies in such partnerships — including Boeing, Microsoft, IBM and Yahoo — to hire students involved in this program.

7) Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering: $65,616

Students at Carnegie Mellon University’s College of Engineering also made it to the top 10 list, making $65,616. Offering a rigorous and technical education, CMU’s College of Engineering makes sure that students have a robust education to prepare them to tackle the world’s most pressing problems.

One of CMU’s biggest points of pride is providing students with a global experience. To this end, it has opportunities for students to go abroad and work on engineering projects through the CIE Travel Grant Program.

Additionally, its many undergraduate research opportunities give students an edge when applying for jobs after graduation. Female students can take advantage of many programs — such as the Women in Electrical and Computer Engineering — to foster their growth and aspirations in engineering.

8) Montana Tech’s School of Mines: $64,434

Montana Tech School of Mines graduates earned an average of $64,434. The school has been considered the Best Lifetime ROI for students in Montana.

The school’s undergraduate research programs — specifically the Research Assistant Mentorship Program, which funds small research teams consisting of undergraduates and faculty members — are a great opportunity for students to get experiential experience.

As a leader in undergraduate engineering education and research in the region, Montana Tech is looking to diversify its student body in engineering. Its Society of Women Engineers provides support and encouragement in addition to plenty of scholarship opportunities.

9) Colorado School of Mines: $63,739

Colorado School of Mines graduates earn an average of $63,739, according to its latest data. The school is devoted to public research in engineering and applied science, with a mission to develop a “curriculum and research program geared toward responsible stewardship of the earth and its resources.”

Its heavy emphasis on the environment is reflective of the needs of society. “The world faces a crisis in balancing resource availability with environmental protection and Mines’ programs are central to the solutions,” according to the school.

In terms of diversifying its student body, Colorado School of Mines has the largest chapter of Society of Women Engineers in the nation with 395 members. The school is committed to not only providing support for women in engineering, but also to jump-starting their careers by helping them prepare for leadership roles.

10) Georgia Institute of Technology’s College of Engineering: $63,000

Georgia Tech was the second school to make it to our top 10 list twice, with an average engineering graduate salary of $63,000. Its College of Engineering offers more than 50 degree programs and has satellite campuses around the world. Students can study such specialized fields as aerospace engineering and industrial systems in engineering.

Georgia Tech’s Women in Engineering program helps motivate women to thrive in the field, increase female enrollments in engineering and ensure the highest rate of retention. The college is also involved in the Atlanta community, with participants in the Mentors and Mentees program acting as advisors to younger college students.

Top Salary Ranking University Undergraduate College Specialty Overall Avg. Salary
1 Carnegie Mellon University School of Computer Science Computer Science  $84,409.33
2 Stanford University Engineering Engineering  $74,466.50
3 Harvey Mudd College Engineering|Science  $68,833.33
4 University of Pennsylvania School of Engineering & Applied Science Engineering  $66,483.00
5 Cornell University College of Engineering Engineering  $66,235.00
6 Georgia Institute of Technology College of Computing Computer Science  $66,000.00
7 Carnegie Mellon University Carnegie Institute of Technology (College of Engineering) Engineering  $65,616.05
8 Montana Tech School of Mines & Engineering Engineering  $64,434.50
9 Colorado School of Mines Engineering  $63,739.25
10 Georgia Institute of Technology College of Engineering Engineering  $63,000.00
11 University of Notre Dame College of Engineering Engineering  $61,781.67
12 Lehigh University College of Engineering & Applied Science Engineering|Science  $60,647.35
13 Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute Engineering  $60,000.53
14 South Dakota School of Mines and Technology Engineering  $59,709.50
15 Michigan State University College of Engineering Engineering  $59,681.00
16 Ohio State University College of Engineering Engineering  $59,492.63
17 Purdue University College of Engineering Engineering  $58,739.83
18 Johns Hopkins University Whiting School of Engineering Engineering  $57,140.50
19 University of Wyoming College of Engineering & Applied Science Engineering  $57,047.00
20 Clemson University College of Engineering & Science Engineering|Science $56,487.44


Data collected from individual colleges’ self-reported data by NerdScholar.