STEM Schools Bring Students Best Return on Investment

By Catherine Groux
Posted June 11, 2013 11:00 AM

Students who attend STEM schools can see a high ROI on their degree.
Students who attend STEM schools can see a high ROI on their degree.

As the cost of college continues to rise, more students are interested in finding a school that will provide them with a solid return on investment (ROI). For this reason, Forbes creates its annual list of colleges with the best ROI, helping students see which schools could provide the best value.

STEM Colleges Dominate 2013 List

This year, colleges that focus on science, technology, engineering and mathematics (STEM) reigned supreme on Forbes' list of schools with the best ROI. Taking the number one spot was California's Harvey Mudd College, a liberal arts school specializing in science, engineering and mathematics. Here, students see an average 30-year ROI of about $2.1 million with a bachelor's degree, and earn starting salaries of around $66,800 per year. The California Institute of Technology (Caltech) came in second place, offering students a 30-year ROI of almost $2 million and a typical starting salary of $67,400.

Other STEM schools that landed spots in Forbes' top 10 include the Polytechnic Institute of New York University, Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Stevens Institute of Technology.

Data Highlights a Larger Trend

The data from Forbes' list might not come as a surprise, given the rapid growth of STEM industries in recent years. Between 2008 and 2018, the number of STEM jobs are expected to rise by 17%, while non-STEM occupations grow by a projected 9.8%, the U.S. Department of Commerce reports. At the same time, individuals who work in STEM fields tend to earn 26% higher salaries than their peers in non-STEM professions.

Due to the growing number of STEM jobs, as well as the many benefits students can receive from working in these industries, President Barack Obama has continuously pushed to bolster STEM education in the U.S. In particular, Obama has focused on training more individuals to become STEM educators, so they can train future students in these fast-growing areas.

"One of the things that I've been focused on as president is how we create an all-hands-on-deck approach to science, technology, engineering, and math …," Obama said at the 2013 White House Science Fair. "We need to make this a priority to train an army of new teachers in these subject areas, and to make sure that all of us as a country are lifting up these subjects for the respect that they deserve."

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