The Best College in Each State for Getting a Job

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Students choose their colleges for all sorts of reasons: strong programs in their intended major; a good financial-aid package; closeness to (or distance from) home. But one statistic that would-be freshmen and their parents can look at is how well the school’s graduates fare when it comes to finding jobs.

Career website Zippia recently released a study about which colleges in each state score the best when it comes to job placement.

“It’s becoming more and more important for college graduates to prepare for a competitive workforce,” the site notes in the introduction to its study. “This means picking the right major, having great internship and work experiences, but most of all, choosing the right college to attend in the first place.”

The site used the Integrated Postsecondary Education System to compile its ratings, examining employment levels 10 years after students have graduated. Some of the schools are big names — Ole Miss, Vanderbilt and Notre Dame all landed on the list. But others are smaller schools, including some parents and students may want to put on their list to investigate come college-planning time. Here’s a look at the ranking, from lowest to highest.

50. Alaska Pacific University

Anchorage, Alaska skyline against mountains
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Placement rate: 84.66 percent

Is college the last frontier of learning? Well, you can attend in the state that was one of the final U.S. frontiers. Alaska Pacific University in Anchorage is a small private liberal arts and sciences university that boasts of personalized, experiential, hands-on instruction, utilizing wild Alaska as its primary classroom.

49. University of Nevada, Las Vegas

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Placement rate: 87.32 percent

No need to gamble it all to pay for your education at UNLV, located in the Las Vegas suburb of Paradise, Nevada. The school boasts that it’s an affordable choice, coming in at half the price of the national average for a college education.

48. Hawaii Pacific University

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Placement rate: 87.65 percent

Even the toughest test has to go down a little easier when you’re studying in the sunshine of Hawaii Pacific University on Oahu. With students from all 50 states and over 70 countries, the school proudly calls itself the “most culturally rich private university in the United States.”

47. Utah, Westminster College

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Placement rate: 87.76 percent

Westminster College is a private liberal arts college in Salt Lake City, and it’s regularly rated among the best colleges in the country by the Princeton Review. There are just 2,100 undergraduates, offering up an enviable student-to-faculty ratio of 9:1.

46. New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology

NMT.edu / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 87.95 percent

The New Mexico Institute of Mining and Technology in Socorro, 74 miles south of Albuquerque, offers more than 30 bachelor of science degrees in such fields as information technology, various fields of science and engineering, management and communication. Lights, camera, educate — you may have seen the school’s research and experiments on numerous science-type TV shows, from “Mythbusters” to “Man vs. Cartoon.”

45. University of Wyoming

University of Wyoming / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 88.73 percent

The University of Wyoming offers a big education in the small community of Laramie, located between the Laramie and Snowy Range mountains. Those who can’t study in Laramie can still get a university education via the college’s Outreach School, which has nine regional centers throughout the state.

44. Oklahoma, Southern Nazarene University

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Placement rate: 89.22 percent

Southern Nazarene University is a Christian liberal arts college located in Bethany, Oklahoma, 10 miles west of downtown Oklahoma City. The school has roots in numerous religious institutions, and dates back to 1899.

43. Colorado School of Mines

Colorado School of Mines / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 89.86 percent

Colorado School of Mines, or “Mines,” sits at the base of the Front Range of the scenic Rocky Mountains in Golden, Colorado. With roots dating back to gold-rush days, it’s a public teaching and research university devoted to engineering and applied science.

42. Montana State University

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Placement rate: 90.03 percent

The first school on the list whose placement rate crosses the impressive 90 percent threshold, Montana State University in Bozeman is the largest university in Big Sky Country. It’s come a long way from its 1893 founding with just eight students — now, more than 14,000 undergrads and nearly 2,000 graduate students hit the books here.

41. The College of Idaho

The College of Idaho / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 90.61 percent

The College of Idaho is a private, liberal arts college in Caldwell, just 23 miles west of Boise. Founded in 1891, it is the state’s oldest private liberal arts college, and a small one, with just over 1,100 students.

40. Alabama, Auburn University

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Placement rate: 90.74 percent

Many of the colleges on this list are small, but that’s not the case with Alabama’s Auburn University, home to nearly 25,000 undergraduates and almost 6,000 grad students. You may know the school’s athletic teams for their in-state rivalry with the University of Alabama. Bama may have the Crimson Tide, but the Auburn Tigers and their famed “War Eagle!” chant are nearly as legendary.

39. University of Mississippi

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Placement rate: 91.26 percent

The University of Mississippi, or “Ole Miss,” is a public research university in Oxford, founded in 1848, that played a legendary role in the nation’s Civil Rights movement. James Meredith, the first African-American student admitted to the segregated school in 1962, is honored with a statue on campus.

38. Tennessee, Vanderbilt University

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Placement rate: 91.61 percent

Vanderbilt, the private university named for Cornelius Vanderbilt, one of the richest men in American history, stakes its claim in Music City, aka Nashville, Tennessee. The selective school consistently ranks among the top 20 research institutions in the United States.

37. Kansas Wesleyan University

Kansas Wesleyan University / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 91.81 percent

Kansas Wesleyan University is a private four-year Christian-based college founded in Salina, Kansas, 81 miles north of Wichita. You won’t get lost in the crowd here: There are just 710 students.

36. Washington, Pacific Lutheran University

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Placement rate: 91.87 percent

Pacific Lutheran University is a private university located in the Tacoma, Washington, suburb of Parkland. Forget what Kermit the Frog sang about it not that easy being green, PLU finds it easy, and important: The school has long been a leader among sustainable campuses, aiming to become carbon neutral by Dec. 31, 2020. The college has offered a major in environmental studies since the 1990s.

35. Arizona, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — Prescott

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Placement rate: 92.03 percent

Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University is a private university system with campuses in Prescott, Arizona, Daytona Beach, Florida and other locations. It specializes in aviation and aerospace, and its Arizona campus offers the only Global Security and Intelligence Studies program in the U.S.

34. Florida, Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University — Daytona Beach

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Placement rate: 92.03 percent

Sharing the placement rate of 92.03 percent with Embry-Riddle’s Prescott, Arizona, campus is Embry-Riddle’s Daytona Beach campus. The Florida campus features the largest undergraduate engineering physics program in the country and the only one specializing in aerospace. The campus is adjacent to Daytona Beach International Airport.

33. California, University of the Pacific

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Placement rate: 92.19 percent

California, the Golden State, has many acclaimed universities, but the University of the Pacific in Stockton, about 50 miles south of Sacramento, has earned its place in the history books. It’s the oldest chartered university in the state, and it boasts both the first conservatory of music and first medical school on the West Coast.

32. University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences

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Placement rate: 92.50 percent

The University of Arkansas for Medical Sciences, which has its main campus in Little Rock, is the only academic health sciences university in Arkansas. It’s also the state’s largest public employer, with more than 10,000 employees.

31. Kentucky, Georgetown College

Georgetown College / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 92.54 percent

Not to be confused with the much-larger Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., Georgetown College is a small, private, Christian liberal arts college in Georgetown, Kentucky, 16 miles north of Lexington.

30. Maine, University of New England

University of New England / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 92.83 percent

The University of New England is a private university with its main campus in the small city of Biddeford, Maine, 18 miles south of Portland. Students have the chance to spend a semester or academic year at the school’s international campus in Tangier, Morocco.

29. Georgia Tech

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Placement rate: 92.87 percent

Are you a “Ramblin’ Wreck from Georgia Tech,” as a popular school fight song says? The school, formally known as the Georgia Institute of Technology, is a public research university and institute of technology in Atlanta, dating to Civil War Reconstruction days. More than 15,000 undergrads share the school with more than 13,000 grad students.

28. Texas, McMurry University

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Placement rate: 92.91 percent

McMurry University is a private school affiliated with the United Methodist Church in Abilene, Texas, 150 miles west of Fort Worth. There are just over 1,000 undergraduates, and the school offers a student-faculty ratio of 13:1.

27. Xavier University of Louisiana

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Placement rate: 93.41 percent

Xavier University of Louisiana is a private, liberal arts college in New Orleans. It’s the only historically black Roman Catholic institution of higher education in the United States and has become a national leader at placing African-American students in medical school.

26. Missouri, Saint Louis University

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Placement rate: 93.48 percent

Saint Louis University is a private Roman Catholic, four-year research university. More than 8,500 undergrads are enrolled and nearly 5,000 grad students.

25. New Hampshire, Keene State College

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Placement rate: 93.60 percent

Founded as a teachers college, Keene State College is a liberal arts college in Keene, New Hampshire. More than 4.500 undergraduates can choose from more than 40 fields of study, with safety and occupational health applied sciences, education and psychology among the top choices.

24. Virginia Tech

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Placement rate: 93.62 percent

Virginia Tech’s full name is a mouthful: It’s Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University. More than 27,000 undergrads and 4,500 grad students attend this public land-grant, research university, with its main campus in Blacksburg, 38 miles southwest of Roanoke.

23. Illinois, Millikin University

Millikin University / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 93.69 percent

Just 2,000 undergrads and 90 grad students attend Millikin University, a private university affiliated with the Presbyterian Church in Decatur, Illinois, 180 miles south of Chicago. One of its most famous grads, Jodi Benson, went under the sea as the voice of Ariel in Disney’s 1989 film “The Little Mermaid.”

22. South Carolina, The Citadel

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Placement rate: 93.67 percent

The Citadel in Charleston, South Carolina, is one of the nation’s six senior military colleges, with a military program comprising 2,350 cadets who make up the South Carolina Corps of Cadets and 1,200 civilian students pursuing degrees through The Citadel Graduate College, a civilian evening and online program. About 1 in 3 cadets earns a commission into the U.S. armed forces upon graduation.

21. Maryland, Mount St. Mary’s University

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Placement rate: 93.97 percent

Mount St. Mary’s University is a private, Catholic liberal-arts college near Emmitsburg, Maryland, just south of the Mason-Dixon Line that marks the border between Maryland and Pennsylvania. Its campus includes the second-largest Catholic seminary in the United States.

20. North Carolina, Elon University

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Placement rate: 94.03 percent

Elon University is a private, liberal-arts school with more than 6,700 undergrad and almost 750 grad students in the small town of Elon, North Carolina. The school includes five schools on its main campus and a nearby satellite campus, among them its law school, located in Greensboro. The law school graduated its first class in 2017.

19. Vermont, Saint Michael’s College

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Placement rate: 94.19 percent

Saint Michael’s College is a private Catholic college of 2,000 undergrads and 400 grad students, with nearly 100 percent of the student body residing on campus. The campus is located in Colchester, Vermont, and offers more than 30 majors. A student-run fire and rescue program provides fire protection not just to campus, but also to the surrounding community.

18. West Virginia, Bethany College

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Placement rate: 94.18 percent

Bethany College, located in tiny Bethany, West Virginia, about an hour’s drive from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, has just over 1,000 students. The private, liberal-arts school founded in 1840 prides itself on small class sizes and individual attention. A pioneer in co-education, Bethany has admitted women since the 1880s.

17. Minnesota, University of St. Thomas

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Placement rate: 94.38 percent

The University of St. Thomas, Minnesota’s largest private college, is a Catholic school with its main campus on mansion-filled Summit Avenue in St. Paul, and a graduate campus, including a law school, in the heart of downtown Minneapolis. Just south of the St. Paul campus is the Saint Paul Seminary School of Divinity, which has ordained more than 3,000 priests since its founding in 1894.

16. Indiana, University of Notre Dame

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Placement rate: 94.47 percent

“Cheer, cheer for old Notre Dame,” urges the fight song of this famed Catholic university near South Bend, Indiana. More than 8,000 undergrads and over 3,500 grad students count themselves among the Fighting Irish — and that doesn’t even include Touchdown Jesus, the local nickname for a mural on a wall of the library facing the stadium.

15. New Jersey, Stevens Institute of Technology

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Placement rate: 94.52 percent

Located in singer Frank Sinatra’s hometown of Hoboken, New Jersey, is Stevens Institute of Technology, a private research university. It’s one of the oldest technological universities in the United States, as well as the first college in America solely dedicated to mechanical engineering.

14. Iowa, Drake University

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Placement rate: 94.72 percent

Drake University is a private college located in Iowa’s capital of Des Moines. Its law school is one of the 25 oldest in the nation, tracing its history to 1865, and the university’s journalism and mass communications program has earned honors.

13. North Dakota, University of Mary

University of Mary / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 94.68 percent

The University of Mary is North Dakota’s only private Catholic university. Its rural campus is located about four miles south of North Dakota’s capital, Bismarck, with an enrollment of about 3,300 students, 1,900 of them undergrads.

12. University of Delaware

University of Delaware / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 94.77 percent

The University of Delaware, a public research university in Newark, Delaware, is the state’s largest university, with more than 18,500 undergraduate and 4,500 graduate students. Want famous alums? Three of the school’s first graduating class of just 10 students went on to sign the Declaration of Independence.

11. Michigan, Kettering University

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Placement rate: 95.10 percent

Rev your engines: Kettering University in Flint, Michigan, is a private cooperative education and experiential learning-based university that was originally known as the General Motors Institute of Technology. The school partners with more than 550 corporations and ensures that students gain paid work experience before they graduate.

10. Connecticut, Quinnipiac University

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Placement Rate: 95.17 percent

Quinnipiac University, a private, nonsectarian university located in the New Haven suburb of Hamden, Connecticut, boasts a retention rate of 90 percent from first to second-year students.

9. Nebraska Wesleyan University

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Placement rate: 95.22 percent

Nebraska Wesleyan is a private university affiliated with the Methodist Church in the state capital of Lincoln, Nebraska. Just over 2,000 students attend, studying in 119 majors, minors and pre-professional programs. Wesleyan is among the nation’s leaders as a source of Fulbright scholars.

8. Massachusetts, Endicott College

Endicott College / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 95.31 percent

Massachusetts boasts plenty of big-name schools, but don’t forget about Endicott College, a private oceanfront campus in the city of Beverly, Massachusetts, on the state’s North Shore region. The school believes in giving students hands-on experience, requiring internships of every student in every major.

7. University of Wisconsin — Platteville

University of Wisconsin, Platteville / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 95.34 percent

UW-Platteville may not be as well-known as other campuses of the University of Wisconsin, but maybe it should be. In-state tuition is just above $7,500, which feels like a bargain amid so many pricier schools. For four years running, it has ranked first in the state for return on one’s educational investment, according to 2018 PayScale ratings.

6. South Dakota, University of Sioux Falls

University of Sioux Falls / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 95.43 percent

Don’t let the name fool you, the University of Sioux Falls is a private school. The Christian university is located in the state’s most populous city and offers 40 undergraduate programs, nine pre-professional programs, and graduate and adult-learning programs.

5. New York, Hobart and William Smith Colleges

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Placement rate: 95.45 percent

Why the double-barreled name for Hobart and William Smith Colleges, located in Geneva, New York? William Smith College was founded as a women’s college, and Hobart College was for men. The two student bodies came together over time and are reflected in a joint identity. The schools are ranked No. 1 by the Princeton Review for having the most popular study abroad program in higher education.

4. Oregon Health & Science University

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Placement rate: 95.51 percent

Studying made you sick? You’re in the right spot, because Oregon Health & Science University’s Portland campus includes two hospitals. Nurses, dentists, doctors and more come to OHSU to learn to care for their fellow humans. The school is also known for its Jetsons-like aerial tram, which carries commuters between Portland’s South Waterfront district and the main campus.

3. Ohio Northern University

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Placement rate: 95.53 percent

Ohio Northern University, a private school affiliated with the Methodist Church, is located in the village of Ada, Ohio, 80 miles northwest of Columbus. The university consists of five colleges: arts and sciences, business administration, engineering, pharmacy and law.

2. Rhode Island, Salve Regina University

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Placement rate: 95.90 percent

Landing second-highest on Zippia’s list is Salve Regina University, a Catholic university in Newport. Its 80-acre campus is set on seven contiguous Gilded Age estates bordering the scenic Newport Cliff Walk. Some 2,100 undergrads and more than 600 graduate students pursue 46 undergraduate majors, 13 master’s degree programs and 14 certificate programs at this school.

1. Pennsylvania, Lebanon Valley College

Lebanon Valley College / Money Talks News

Placement rate: 96.19 percent

And coming in first on Zippia’s list is Lebanon Valley College, a small liberal arts school in Annville, 20 miles east of Harrisburg. It’s the only college on the list to score a placement rate higher than 96 percent and boasts an enviable 10:1 student-to-faculty ratio. Have a sweet tooth? Annville is just eight miles from chocolate haven Hershey, Pennsylvania.

How important is job placement to you in evaluating a college? Share with us in comments below or on our Facebook page.

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