The Most Underrated Colleges in America

Business Insider

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Future income isn't the only factor that should determine college choice, but it may be the most important one.

So how good are the famous college rankings from U.S. News & World Report at predicting future income? It turns out there are some majorly underrated and overrated schools.

We plotted U.S. News' ranking of the best colleges against PayScale's mid-career salary rank to identify the outliers (read the full methodology here).

University of Massachusetts Lowell emerged as the most underrated school, heading a list of state schools and lesser-known tech schools.





#10 Missouri University of Science & Technology

Ranked #250 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #70 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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Missouri S&T is known for its engineering programs, with majors like aerospace engineering, mining engineering, petroleum engineering, and engineering management. But students can also major in the humanities, social sciences, arts, sciences, or business.

The school has done well in several national engineering design competitions and many graduates go on to work in lucrative engineering fields, earning an average mid-career salary of $95,100.


#9 San Diego State University

Ranked #330 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #180 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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San Diego State University offers 189 different Bachelor's degrees in everything from Asian Studies and Religious Studies to Naval Science and Real Estate to its 31,000 students. It's ranked low on US News' list at #165, but graduates go on to earn an average mid-career salary of $84,700.

The school has obtained over $150 million for research, allowing students to get real hands-on experience that will help them succeed in the real world.

 
#8 Clarkson University

Ranked #230 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #34 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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Courtesy of Clarkson University


Clarkson ranks #11 on PayScale's College Salary Report among engineering programs with the highest salary potential. The small private school produces the highest percentage of graduates with internship experience, who then go on to earn a lot of money in various engineering fields. Graduates earn a very high average mid-career salary of $102,000.

 
#7 University of Maryland–​Baltimore County

Ranked #320 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #148 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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UMBC is a public school in Catonsville, MD, that focuses mainly on the natural sciences, engineering, and public policy fields. With over 10,000 students, the college bills itself as an honors university, but it still ranks low on US News' list at #160.

 
#6 Texas Tech University

Ranked #330 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #146 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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Texas Tech is a large public research institution with 32,000 students in Lubbock, TX, that offers degrees in over 150 courses of study. The engineering school is particularly strong, and graduates go on to earn an average mid-career salary of $86,700.

It also has strong athletics: The football team has appeared in 34 bowl games.
 

#5 Pace University

Ranked #348 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #160 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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Pace began in 1906 as a school for accountancy and business, but today it's much more varied with schools focusing on health professions, education, computer science, and general arts and sciences. Pace has campuses in both New York City and Westchester, providing students with access to great internships and opportunities in the city.

The schools ranks low on US News' list at #174, but it made Forbes' list of Colleges That Will Make You Rich, with graduates earning an average mid-career salary of $85,600.
 

#4 Florida Institute of Technology

Ranked #320 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #119 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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FIT has a 130-acre primary campus situated near the Kennedy Space Center on Florida's Space Coast. The private school was founded in 1958 as a training ground for people working in the space industry, but today it offers majors in science, engineering, humanities, psychology, and more to its 5,000 students.

About half of the student body enrolls in the school’s College of Business, according to US News, and graduates go on to earn an average mid-career salary of $88,600.
 

#3 New Jersey Institute of Technology

Ranked #278 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #46 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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Located outside New York City in Newark, NJ, NJIT is a public research institution with about 10,000 students and more than $100 million in research funding. The school offers strong programs in architecture, business, engineering, medical, legal, science, and technological fields, but most students major in engineering. Graduates go on to earn a high average mid-career salary of $101,000.
 

#2 Polytechnic Institute of New York University

Ranked #278 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #8 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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Located in Brooklyn, the Polytechnic Institute is part of New York University and is the second-oldest private engineering and technology institute in the country. The school ranks low on US News' list at #139, but graduates go on to earn a very high average mid-career salary of  $117,000.

NYU—Poly emphasizes research and innovation, and the most popular majors are electrical engineering (21%), civil engineering (19%), and engineering/industrial management (10%)—all of which can lead to lucrative careers.


#1 University of Massachusetts–​Lowell

Ranked #680 in our composite of U.S. News's college and university lists.
Ranked #82 in PayScale's mid-career salary list.

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Located in Lowell, MA, UMass Lowell earned the top spot in our ranking this year. The public school ranked low on US News' list at #170, but its graduates earned a high average mid-career salary of over $92,000.

Most of the 14,000 students major in business and engineering, which can lead to well-paying careers.


Note: Although U.S. News ranks colleges and universities separately, we combined these lists by doubling the ranking. Read the full methodology here.


Click here for the full list of Underrated Colleges in America.


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