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CNBC Names UC San Diego Among Top Public Colleges That Pay Off in Higher Earnings

New ranking reinforces campus reputation as one of the best value colleges in the nation

Photo by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego


  • Christine Clark

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  • Christine Clark

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The University of California San Diego has been ranked the 11th best public university in the country among colleges that pay off the most in a new ranking by CNBC. The rankings measured UC San Diego’s costs, financial aid packages and the earnings for alumni at the start of their career ($61,300), as well as the mid-point ($94,050) and after they have been in the workforce for more than ten years ($126,800).

“UC San Diego’s innovative, interdisciplinary approach to higher education elevates our alumni to become top performers in their fields,” said Chancellor Pradeep K. Khosla. “To open up this level of success to everyone, we took bold actions to ensure learning is accessible and affordable for all. We also recruit the best and brightest from underrepresented communities to better reflect California’s population.”

The CNBC ranking methodology calculated college costs after subtracting scholarships and grants for median U.S. households (families making between $48,001 and $75,000, an income range established by the Department of Education). The rankings also utilized data from the Payscale College Salary Report for alumni ranging from those with less than five years of experience, to those with more than ten years of experience. The ranking gives greater weight to workers’ earnings in the years immediately after college, when individuals are the most impacted by college costs and student debt.

Campus tops other best value rankings lists

Nearly 70 percent of all UC San Diego students receive some form of financial aid, with the median debt of the college’s graduates below the national average. These factors, combined with high earnings among alumni, have netted UC San Diego similar accolades to the CNBC rankings. In May, the campus was included in Forbes Best Value Colleges list as one of the top 15 universities in the nation for delivering the greatest value for the money: education quality; net price; net student debt; alumni earnings; timely graduation; and access for low-income students.

Money Magazine recently rated UC San Diego the nation’s 6th best in the publication’s list of top colleges for transfer students. The university topped the rankings list—based on student enrollment and its graduation rate for transfers—because of its strong partnership with California community colleges. More than 90 percent of the university’s transfer students come from community colleges across the state and 50 percent of all transfer students on campus are the first in their family to attend a four-year university.

A living laboratory where excellence thrives

From prestigious rankings, to innovative educational programs and generous financial packages, UC San Diego continues to lead with unprecedented solutions that have a transformative impact on the economic, social, cultural and imaginative experiences of the communities it serves. The campus is undergoing a historic phase of growth where physical changes are coming to life, such as the North Torrey Pines Living and Learning Neighborhood, which will consist of vibrant mixed-use “neighborhoods” incorporating residential, academic, administrative, public and retail and dining spaces. About 50 percent of construction of the project is complete and students are expected to begin living in the space by Sept. of 2020.

Beyond new buildings on campus, UC San Diego continues to spark breakthrough research and innovation. For example, a consortium of campus researchers, including astrophysicists, has come closer to understanding the conditions of the universe moments after its inception thanks to a recent $20 million commitment by the Simons Foundation. Their work will be conducted at the Simons Observatory, which recently broke ground in Chile’s Atacama Desert (at 17,200 feet in elevation).

For more information about UC San Diego’s innovations and rankings, visit the Campus Profile. For more information about the CBNC list of best colleges that pay off the most, go to the media company’s rankings website.

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