NYU-Poly Jumps to 5th Place in Salary Potential; Engineering Still Top-earning Major

When Ursula Burns, chairman and CEO of Xerox Corp., decided to study engineering at Polytechnic Institute of NYU, then Polytechnic Institute of New York, it was in part because engineers made more money than teachers and nurses (two professions her high school teachers said she had the “aptitude and disposition” for).

That was 1976. Today’s students looking for similar returns on their educational investment can choose engineering, and NYU-Poly in particular, with confidence.

NYU-Poly ranks fifth among the top 10 best engineering colleges by salary potential according to the 2010 – 11 College Salary Report that PayScale, an online provider of compensation data, released Thursday, July 22. That’s a two spot jump from its seventh place ranking in 2009, and a continuation of its place in the top 10 where it regularly appears. Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute, and California Institute of Technology, also rank in the top 10.

NYU-Poly graduates earn a starting median salary of $62,100 and a mid-career salary of $111,000, according to PayScale’s report. While NYU-Poly’s rank among top colleges is up, it should be noted that the median salaries of its graduates compared to last year’s report are down slightly ($600 for starting salaries; $3,000 for mid-career). Starting salaries for college graduates dropped across the country according to PayScale’s findings. Engineering remains the leader among top-earning majors, however. From biomedical to electrical, engineering takes 7 of the spots on the list of top 10 undergraduate majors that lead to high salaries, the same number of spots it held last year.

“The recession and continued economic uncertainty have lowered salaries for new college graduates of nearly every major. Engineering students, or students thinking about studying engineering, can take comfort in PayScale’s report,” said Barbara Hall, associate provost for enrollment services and interim director of student affairs. “The field has historically held a place among top salary lists even during times of economic strain. It should continue to do so.”

PayScale’s report places NYU-Poly in the top 10 of two other categories for salary potential: Northeastern colleges (eighth) and private research universities (ninth).

PayScale collected its data from respondents with full-time jobs in the U.S. and bachelor’s degrees who do not hold master’s, MBA, PhD, or other advanced degrees. Read the survey’s full methodology.