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Is a Loma Linda University Undergrad Degree a Good Investment?

The New York Times Economix blog has an interesting post up about choosing colleges based on potential earnings power.

It includes data from PayScale, a site that collects data on salaries for different professions. . . . Today the company is releasing an updated, gigantic data set on the salaries of graduates from hundreds of universities and colleges, as well as salaries and career choices broken down by department/major.

The blog includes these highlights from the data:

  • Dartmouth College has the highest median mid-career salary (defined as salary at 10 years or greater after graduation).
  • Loma Linda University has the highest median starting salary (defined as salaries within five years of graduation), a function of their strong programs in nursing, dental and allied health.
  • In general, engineering schools produced the best starting salaries, and represented eight out of the top 10 schools in starting salary. On the other hand, Ivy League Schools are the best bet for mid-career pay, with five out of the top 10.
  • Majors matter. Quantitative-oriented degrees – like engineering, science, mathematics and economics — filled most of the top 20 slots in both highest starting median salaries and highest mid-career median salaries.

According to PayScale, where information is self-reported, the “starting median” salary for Loma Linda University graduates is $71,400. This places LLU at the very top, just ahead of other health care and quantitative heavy institutions like MIT, Harvey Mudd, CIT, and Stanford.

It appears that LLU graduates start out at the head of the school pack, but over time it lands around the middle, with an “average mid-career” salary of $88,500. This places LLU between University of Florida and University of California, Santa Cruz.

What factors do you think contribute to the early rise, but sharp drop off? One has to go far out of the top 20 “starting median” salary schools to find such a significant plateau over time? In fact, most of the graduates who start near Loma Linda University levels make it over 100K, while the LLU “average mid-career” is actually below that of the University of Redlands, which starts at $47,700.

In reflecting on this, it’s important to note that:

The data include only survey respondents whose highest (emphasis supplied) academic degree is a bachelor’s. Therefore, doctors, lawyers and others in high-paying jobs that require advanced degrees are not included in the data set.

So, what is it about Loma Linda University undergraduate education that makes it such an anomaly in the stats, as reported here? What role do LLU’s strong graduate programs play? Perhaps a more pertinent question is: Is only getting a Loma Linda University undergrad degree a good investment?

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