Is College Worth the Price? A New List Ranks Return on Investment

Engineering and research universities dominate the list of higher education institutions ranked by return on investment (ROI), according to PayScale’s 2013 College ROI Report.

PayScale evaluated alumni earnings against the price of earning a bachelor’s degree at more than 1,000 U.S. colleges.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology ranked fourth nationally and first among New England higher education institutions. Babson College ranked 25th overall in PayScale’s report and first among business schools in the U.S.

Two Massachusetts public campuses ranked high among the 437 U.S. state colleges included in the report in terms of their ROI for in-state students—Massachusetts Maritime Academy (4th) and the University of Massachusetts Lowell (10th). Other New England publics among the top 100 state colleges were the University of Connecticut (46th), the University of Rhode Island (84th), the University of Massachusetts Amherst (87th) and the University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (89th).

PayScale, a company that evaluates compensation for individuals and companies, in April published its fourth annual report on the earning power of a college degree. PayScale collected data from full-time employees with bachelor’s degrees working in the U.S. The survey excluded graduate degree-holders as well as part-time or self-employed workers.

ROI has became a fashionable measure in higher education. But the emphasis on earnings data also has detractors who say it shortchanges less measurable but potentially far more valuable reasons to pursue a college education, such as teaching in underserved areas and engaging in other work for the common good.

The following New England institutions ranked in the top 300 nationally for ROI, according to PayScale’s report. The exact ranking appears in parenthesis.

Massachusetts Institute of Technology (4th)

Harvard University (14th)

Worcester Polytechnic Institute (15th)

Massachusetts Maritime Academy (16th for in-state, 20th for out-of-state)

Dartmouth College (19th)

Williams College (21st)

Babson College (25th)

Brown University (45th)

University of Massachusetts Lowell (50th for in-state, 62nd for out-of-state)

Tufts University (60th)

Amherst College (69th)

Wentworth Institute of Technology (89th)

Yale University (93th)

Bentley University (111th)

Brandeis University (138th)

Bryant University (151st)

Boston College (154th)

College of the Holy Cross (161st)

University of Connecticut (169th for in-state, 222nd for out-of-state)

Providence College (172nd)

Boston University (189th)

Merrimack College (207th)

Saint Anselm College (216th)

Northeastern University (217th)

Fairfield University (239th)

University of Hartford (258th)

Western New England College (273rd)

University of Rhode Island (282nd for in-state, 378th for out-of-state)

University of Massachusetts Amherst (291st for in-state, 365th for out-of-state)

University of Massachusetts Dartmouth (296th for in-state, 359th for out-of-state)




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