7. Bucknell University Early earnings: $57,900 Mid-career earnings: $109,000
Laurie Jackson
By Kaitlin Mulhere
July 29, 2015

We all know the tired cliché of the liberal arts graduate: the starving artist, the unemployed classics major, the English graduate who’s waiting tables. They’re exaggerations and stereotypes, to be sure. And yet, employment and salary data consistently show holders of liberal arts degrees toward the bottom of the pay scale for college graduates.

Supporters of liberal arts colleges argue that salaries don’t tell the whole story. The liberal arts teach students skills that will benefit them in a variety of careers, such as how to reason and write, they say. Plus, a report last year found that liberal arts majors tend to close the salary gap after several years in the workforce. And if nothing else, the liberal arts pay off in an intellectual way, making the “inside of your head an interesting place to spend the rest of your life,” as one former college president puts it.

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But what if you don’t want to choose one or the other—an interesting internal life or a comfortable paycheck? Here are the liberal arts schools in MONEY’s Best Colleges rankings where graduates report the highest average salaries within five years of graduation, according to Payscale.com.


10. Colgate University

Colgate University
Ashlee Eve&mdash—

Average early career earnings: $52,900

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 34

Location: Hamilton, N.Y.

Read more about Colgate.


9. Virginia Military Institute

Virginia Military Institute
Kevin Remington—

Average early career earnings: $53,400

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 48

Location: Lexington, Va.

Read more about VMI.


8. Washington and Lee University

Washington and Lee University
courtesy of Washington & Lee

Average early career earnings: $53,700

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 24

Location: Lexington, Va.

Read more about W&L.


7. Hamilton College

Bob Handelman

Average early career earnings: $54,500

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 41

Location: Clinton, N.Y.

Read more about Hamilton.


6. Hampden-Sydney College

Hampden-Sydney College
courtesy

Average early career earnings: $55,300

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 158

Location: Hampden-Sydney, Va.

Read more about Hampden-Sydney.


5. Claremont McKenna College

Claremont McKenna College
Anais & Dax—courtesy of

Average early career earnings: $55,500

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 19

Location: Claremont, Calif.

Read more about CMC.


4. Amherst College

Amherst College
courtesy Office

Average early career earnings: $55,700

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 9

Location: Amherst, Mass.

Read more about Amherst.


3. Bucknell University

Bucknell University
Laurie Jackson

Average early career earnings: $56,000

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 37

Location: Lewisburg, Pa.

Read more about Bucknell.


2. Lafayette College

Lafayette College
Chuck Zovko

Average early career earnings: $56,800

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 54

Location: Easton, Pa.

Read more about Lafayette.


1. Harvey Mudd College

Harvey Mudd College
Edward Carreon

Average early career earnings: $76,400

MONEY Best Colleges rank: 6

Location: Claremont, Calif.

Read more about Harvey Mudd.

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