Skip to main content

Which MN colleges have the biggest impact on graduates' earnings?

  • Author:
  • Updated:

Graduates of Carleton College and a community college in Fergus Falls can expect to make more money than those who attended similar schools, a Brookings Institution report shows.

The report "Beyond the College Rankings," released Wednesday, aims to figure out how much a college actually contributes to the economic success of their graduates.

It ranked comparable schools using what's called a value-added score in an attempt to evaluate them on an even playing field – basically, what can a student expect to earn based on their background going into college; and what did they actually earn after going to a certain school.

Brookings' report is unique for many reasons, Inside Higher Ed says. It covers more schools than other popular rankings (which tend to base lists on acceptance criteria) and adjusts for the traits of students the schools accept.

“Colleges serve very diverse populations. The advantage of measuring value added is that it adjusts a school’s rankings based on the type of college and the characteristics of its student body," Brookings Fellow Jonathan Rothwell said in a news release.

"We thought it would be much better to have a value-added system than one that rewards elite colleges for attracting the most-prepared students," he told Inside Higher Ed.

Here's a look at how Minnesota schools ranked:

Carleton among top 1 percent

Carleton College ranks in the top 1 percent of comparable four-year universities when it comes to value added, joining the ranks of well-known schools such as MIT and the California Institute of Technology, which all had value-added scores of 100 (the highest possible).

Graduates of the private liberal arts school in Northfield can expect to make $117,700 by midcareer – or 43 percent more than they would have if they'd gone to a comparable school instead, the report found.

The Star Tribune spoke with Paul Thiboutot, Carleton’s vice president and dean of admissions, who said this reinforces that a Carleton education is a good investment.

"There's certainly a substantial investment in the cost of education," Thiboutot told the newspaper. "We hope we can show there's a worthwhile return."

Many other four-year schools in Minnesota were listed in the report, with the next highest value-added score given to St. Thomas University in St. Paul. Graduates can expect to earn $91,900, or 24.5 percent more than graduates of a comparable school by midcareer.

Two-year schools

Graduates of Minnesota State Community and Technical College in Fergus Falls can also expect to see more financial success compared to those who graduate from a comparable two-year school, the report found.

On average, graduates from the community college earned $59,900 – that's 13 percent more than graduates of similar schools at midcareer, the report notes.

The school has a value-added score of 97.

Dakota County Technical College in Rosemount was the next highest two-year school in Minnesota with a value-added score of 86.

Graduates from there can expect to earn 7 percent more than graduates from a comparable school, or $58,000, by midcareer.

Washington, D.C.-based Brookings Institute is a nonprofit think tank that conducts independent research.

Next Up


Charges: Armed man made death threats at Minneapolis LGBTQ bar

The man allegedly used derogatory terms while threatening to kill someone.


FDA pulls last COVID-19 monoclonal antibody treatment as new variants rise

A therapy used to treat more than 11,000 Minnesotans is no longer authorized amid a surge in the latest COVID-19 variants.

Austin Robert LeClaire

Charges: Plymouth man shot girlfriend in head after birthday party

The 23-year-old victim is in critical condition as of Friday.


State announces $2.5M in grants for child care providers

Child care providers in roughly a dozen communities will receive funds to help grow the supply of affordable, quality child care.


Probe of Golden Valley police uncovers racism, alleged misconduct

One officer was terminated for alleged racist comments and violations of state law.

blowing snow

Blowing snow Friday in Minnesota; will it snow next week?

Winds could gust up to 50 mph Friday afternoon and night.

Deer hunting blaze orange

To combat CWD, late-season deer hunting announced for 9 areas of MN

The special hunts will be held between Dec. 16 and 18.


COVID levels rising in wastewater; BQ.1 now dominant

BQ.1 is the new dominant subvariant in Twin Cities wastewater.

Screen Shot 2022-12-02 at 11.43.05 AM

Keith Ellison, other AGs settle with CarMax over recall disclosures

As part of the settlement, CarMax now must disclosure open recalls online and on the lot.

police lights squad car

Man kidnaps 2-year-old daughter in St. Paul, crashes after pursuit in Minneapolis

The incident involved both police departments in Minneapolis and St. Paul.

police lights

Boys aged 15, 16 arrested after shooting of teen in Woodbury

The victim suffered non-life-threatening gunshot wounds.


Graduates of which Minnesota college bring in the biggest salaries?

A new survey from PayScale Inc. found Carleton College graduates have the highest median salary of just over $93,000.

Minnesota 'above average' on college graduation

Twenty-two years ago, then Gov. Rudy Perpich caught heaps of flack for referring to Minnesota as the "Brainpower State." He may have been onto something. New Census data shows that Minnesota ranks fourth in college completion rates among adults 25-54 with 49.8 of folks in that bracket having completed college. Our neighbors to the northwest, North Dakota came in a slot ahead of us at #3 with 50.8 percent of their adult population donning college graduation caps.