According to a new survey of salaries earned by college graduates early in their careers and in mid-career, computer engineering and computer science are among the top-10 highest paying degrees for both undergraduate and graduate degree holders. But there is a big gap in earnings that clearly shows the value-added of a graduate degree. Nationwide, the average mid-career salary (roughly 15 years after graduation) for someone with a terminal bachelor's degree in computer science is $103,600 (but for UC San Diego computer science alumni it is $115,500). Meanwhile the average alum with a Ph.D. degree in computer science earns roughly 37 percent more, pulling down an average salary of $140,600 by mid-career.
The 2014-2015 College Salary Report from PayScale.com also lists UC San Diego as the 11th best public university in the U.S.for the average mid-career salary of alumni (the campus statistics are for all majors, not just computer science). The UCSD average is $102,100 per year. The same report also names UC San Diego the 15th best public university for its return on investment for alumni who are California residents (i.e., people who paid the lower in-state tuition when they were in school). Calculating the net gain in income over 20 years by a UC San Diego graduate versus a high school graduate, PayScale.com estimates the extra earnings to be nearly $550,000. The return on investment -- what students pay to attend versus what they get back in lifetime earnings -- is just over 9 percent.
PayScale.com tabulated the earnings data based on information supplied by alumni who completed the company's salary questionnaire. Based on responses from recent graduates, the average starting salary of a UC San Diego alum with a bachelor's degree is $50,600, but for those with a computer science degree, it's closer to $70,000 within two years (their so-called early-career pay level).