How Do We Calculate Salary Score?
To calculate Salary Score, we start by looking at median alumni salaries for each degree category offered by a given school. Let’s say we want to find the Salary Score for bachelor’s degrees at Your College, an example college.
Step One: Give each bachelor's program at a specific university a Salary Score
Let's say Your College offers 16 different bachelor’s programs. We start by calculating a Salary Score for each of these programs. For example, if graduates of the economics program at Your College have a median alumni salary of $68,000 per year, we compare this to the average salary for all economics programs in the College Scorecard database, which is $48,000 per year. We then give the economics program at Your College a score on a scale of 0-100 to represent how high the salary is for economics majors at this school compared to the average. In this case, the Salary Score would be 95, which would make it one of the top schools for economics alumni salaries.
We repeat this process for every program with available data at a school, comparing alumni salaries for each program to the average for all alumni in the same field of study to get a picture of how the college's alumni generally fare in their first year out of college. We compare alumni salaries for the nursing program to the average for all nursing programs, and computer science program salaries to the average for all computer science graduates, and so on.
Step Two: Find the bachelor's level Salary Score for a school based on its program scores
Next, we take the Salary Scores for all of the bachelor's programs a school offers and weigh them based on how many students are in each program. We account for the number of students in a program to represent the most likely outcome for most students at a school. That way, if a computer science program has a high Salary Score but only 30 students, and a business program has a low Salary Score based on 300 students, the school’s ranking isn’t affected as much by the few students who earned higher-than-average salaries.
Simply put, we take all of the weighted scores by program and convert them into a final Salary Score for the school. Technically speaking, we use something called z-scores to calculate the overall Salary Score, which you can read about in our methodology.
In our example, Your College has a Salary Score of 82. This means that, for the most part, Your College alumni from most programs earn higher salaries than alumni from the same programs at other universities. While a school’s overall score paints a picture of how most alumni fare after graduation, it does not guarantee that every program has alumni who earn more or less on average than their peers. Students who are interested in specific programs can search for individual schools to compare Salary Scores by major on our sister site, GradReports, to help them determine which university is best for their particular interests and goals.