Top 20 colleges for computer science majors, based on earning potential

California dominates PayScale's ranking of the top computer science schools

California is home to the top five computer science schools in the U.S., according to a new salary-centric report from PayScale.

The research company ranked 129 college majors based on the median pay for alumni from 1,016 schools (see related story, Computer science major ranks No. 8 for salary earning potential).

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In addition to ranking the most lucrative majors, PayScale also analyzed which schools produce the highest-paid graduates in each field of study. Among computer science graduates, alumni from University of California, Berkeley, led the pack with a median mid-career salary of $141,400, PayScale said. The Golden State is also home to the next four universities in the computer-science rankings.

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To come up with its rankings, PayScale surveyed 1.4 million civilian employees working full-time in the U.S. Only employees who possess a bachelor's degree and no higher degrees are included in PayScale's College Salary Report. The rankings are based on the median mid-career earnings of graduates.

Best schools for computer science majors
Source: PayScale

1. University of California, Berkeley
Starting pay: $82,000
Mid-career pay: $141,400

2. California Polytechnic State University, San Luis Obispo (CalPoly)
Starting pay: $67,000
Mid-career pay: $125,000

3. University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB)
Starting pay: $68,000
Mid-career pay: $120,200

4. Stanford University (tie)
Starting pay: $90,000
Mid-career pay: $120,000

4. University of California, Irvine (UCI) (tie)
Starting pay: $64,200
Mid-career pay: $120,000

6. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT)
Starting pay: $82,400
Mid-career pay: $117,500

7. Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University (Virginia Tech)
Starting pay: $66,700
Mid-career pay: $117,000

8. Cornell University
Starting pay: $70,000
Mid-career pay: $116,500

9. University of California, San Diego (UCSD)
Starting pay: $70,000
Mid-career pay: $115,000

10. Rutgers University - New Brunswick
Starting pay: $63,000
Mid-career pay: $114,500

11. San Jose State University (SJSU)
Starting pay: $65,500
Mid-career pay: $114,400

12. New York University (NYU)
Starting pay: $60,000
Mid-career pay: $112,500

13. University of Washington (UW)
Starting pay: $65,000
Mid-career pay: $112,100

14. University of Maryland (UMD)
Starting pay: $66,000
Mid-career pay: $112,000

15. Worcester Polytechnic Institute (WPI)
Starting pay: $69,500
Mid-career pay: $111,500

16. Carnegie Mellon University (CMU) (tie)
Starting pay: $81,300
Mid-career pay: $111,000

16. Georgia Institute of Technology (tie)
Starting pay: $65,800
Mid-career pay: $111,000

18. University of California at Los Angeles (UCLA)
Starting pay: $65,000
Mid-career pay: $110,000

19. University of Texas (UT) - Austin
Starting pay: $64,000
Mid-career pay: $106,200

20. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC)
Starting pay: $68,000
Mid-career pay: $106,000

It's worth noting that not every college and university in the U.S. is included in the study. According to PayScale, there are approximately 3,070 bachelor's degree-granting schools in the U.S, and this year's College Salary Report includes 1,016 of them. With those 1,016 schools, PayScale asserts that it's covering 86 percent of schools with more than 5,000 undergraduates and more than 75 percent of the estimated undergraduates in bachelor's degree programs in the U.S.

PayScale defines mid-career employees as those with at least 10 years of experience in their career or field.

Ann Bednarz covers IT careers, outsourcing and Internet culture for Network World. Follow Ann on Twitter at@annbednarzand reach her via email

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This story, "Top 20 colleges for computer science majors, based on earning potential" was originally published by Network World.

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