The Top 10 “Hidden Gem” Colleges With the Highest-Paid Alumni

To make a great living after college, contrary to popular opinion, you actually do not need to attend a top-50 school in the US.

In fact, many of the highest-salaried alumni in the country come from schools that aren’t even ranked in the top 100 colleges.

Some colleges offer more specialized training in specific high-paying careers than others. Careers in STEM, for example, frequently pay in the 6-figures after just 5-10 years of real-world experience.

Today, we have assembled a list of the top 10 “hidden gem” schools producing the highest salaried alumni.

All of this information is derived from, the best online source for information about higher education and career salaries.

So how did we determine what makes a “hidden gem” school worthy of inclusion on this list?

This is how we approached this particular set of data:

  • All listed schools are not currently ranked in the top 75 national universities or liberal arts colleges according to US News.
  • The schools listed here are not military or maritime programs.
  • All schools must offer at least a Bachelor’s degree-granting undergraduate education and be non-profit institutions.
  • Schools are ranked by mid-career pay (meaning 10 or more years of experience).

So what are the top 10 highest-salary producing “hidden gem” colleges in the US?

Here is the list:

10. Manhattan College (New York, NY)

Manhattan College is one of the best ROI schools in the country; graduates enjoy some of the highest mid-career pays of any US institution.

Manhattan is best described as a liberal arts college, which less than 4,000 total students attending the school at any given time.

According to, Manhattan College is currently ranked in the top 50 Catholic Colleges in America.

The acceptance rate at Manhattan is 75%, proving that you don’t need to be a straight-A student to have a very high-paying career.

MEDIAN CAREER PAY: $125,700.00

9. Cooper Union for the Advancement of Science and Art (New York, NY)

Cooper Union
Ajay Suresh from New York, NY, USA, The Cooper Union’s Foundation Building – North Side, CC BY 2.0

What makes Cooper so appealing is a simple promise; all students receive at least a half-tuition scholarship. Many receive more.

Cooper is a small, specialized institution of less than 1,000 total students, according to its Wikipedia page. This makes the school a great fit for a student desiring a liberal arts sized school inside of a major metropolitan city.

Comprised of three schools, Cooper’s specializations include architecture, fine arts, and engineering.

One of New York City’s most selective institutions, the acceptance rate for the school is just 13%. In all of New York City, only Columbia University and Juilliard claim a lower acceptance rate.

Students of Cooper are among the brightest in America. Alumni of Cooper Union have won 3 MacArthur fellowships (a prize currently awarding $625,000), 23 Guggenheim awards, and even a Nobel Prize winner in Physics.

MEDIAN CAREER PAY: $126,200.00

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