The ultimate aim of going to college is to get a good job. That may sound obvious, but many people tend to forget this during their course of study. They can become so wrapped up with grades, academics and, of course, partying that they neglect to put together a plan that will get them to where they want to be after the four years of school are up. You don’t want to be one of them. The good news is that this is totally avoidable.
As we mentioned, securing a good job after college starts with a plan. And the first step in this plan should be picking a college with strong ties with businesses in your desired sector. Yes, it will be your responsibility to get the job you want, but that doesn’t mean your college can’t help! The best colleges have systems in place that ensure that its graduates aren’t completely on their own once they go into the world of work. Instead, they have internship opportunities, alumni networks, start-up incubators, business collaborations and a whole host of other opportunities. And yes, these items definitely make a difference.
The issue with identifying the “best” college for ties with the right company for a student is that every student is different. Therefore, they have different ambitions. A drama student and an engineering student are looking for completely different connections. In that case, there will never be one definitive list that shows every student in America which colleges will be best for them. What this list does instead is take in a range of colleges and analyze their ties with various industries to give you an example of what every college should strive for. Some will have good ties across the board, while others will be great for a specific subject. And perhaps none of the choices are right for you. You may be set on studying at a city that has no connections with any of the colleges on this list. And that’s fine. This article will still be a useful resource, as you can test your college options with our selections to see if they have comparable opportunities. We can say for sure that the colleges in this list are leading to graduate employment in their respective fields and have some of the best industry connections in the world.
You may not have considered it, but your college’s relationship with employers in your desired field could make all the difference when it comes to getting an entry-level job.
Our methodology sources compile a range of data. Some articles are focused specifically on alumni networks. Some list the top CEOs that attended which institution. Some rank the companies that have the most graduates from certain colleges. And some look at the top industries for college grads to work in and then figure out which colleges have especially high numbers of graduates in that industry.
Our sources are these:
US News, Top Colleges, Universities for Internship, Co-Op Programs: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/slideshows/top-colleges-universities-for-internship-co-op-programs
Business Insider, The 25 Best Colleges for Landing an Internship: https://www.businessinsider.com/princeton-review-best-colleges-for-scoring-an-internship-2016-2
QS/Top Universities, 10 of the Best US Universities for Graduate Employability 2018: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings-articles/graduate-employability-ranking/10-best-us-universities-graduate-employability-2018
QS/Top Universities Graduate Employability Rankings 2018: https://www.topuniversities.com/university-rankings/employability-rankings/2018
Times Higher Education, Which Colleges do Facebook, Google and Other Top Employers Recruit From? https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/news/which-colleges-do-facebook-google-and-other-top-employers-recruit
Princeton Review, Colleges That Pay You Back: https://www.princetonreview.com/college-rankings?rankings=colleges-that-pay-you-back&sort=popularity
CNBC, The 30 colleges with the most alums at top tech companies: https://www.cnbc.com/2017/06/28/the-30-colleges-with-the-most-alums-at-top-tech-companies.html
US News, Top Fortune 500 CEOs: Where They Went to College: https://www.usnews.com/education/best-colleges/articles/2018-06-11/top-fortune-500-ceos-where-they-went-to-college
College Magazine, The 10 Most Powerful College Alumni Networks: https://www.collegemagazine.com/10-best-college-alumni-networks/
After sorting through the rankings and placements of colleges in those lists, we’ve conducted further research into how and why these top 30 colleges are so good for business connections. We’ve cited which partnership initiatives they have going, the industry collaborations that are great for graduate employment and a range of other factors. Unsurprisingly, every ranking college is proactive in engaging with businesses and devising ways to get their graduates into their desired industries. And the ways in which they’re doing this are detailed fully below. Our final rankings are sorted by aggregated ranking on the methodology lists, strength of industry connections and evidence of innovative practices.
Our results of the top 30 colleges, from 30 to one, are below:
30. Embry-Riddle Aeronautical University
Aviation Security Program
As the name suggests, Embry Riddle Aeronautical University is great at getting students careers in the aerospace industry. Times Higher Education even states that it has the highest number of alumni in the aerospace industry by a large margin. Furthermore, US News states that the college has the 10th best internships of any college. And Embry Riddle’s partnerships team has two different branches, one for corporations and one for government interests so that they can gauge the needs of these two very different employers and meet them specifically.
29. Virginia Tech
Mining Engineering Program
This college has the 28th highest number of graduates working in top tech companies. And it’s the 24th best college for students to earn their money back after study. It’s also the 201st to 250th best for graduate employability (in the world.) And Virginia Tech’s corporate partners are all great businesses. It currently has 20 partnerships, which include the Ford Motor Company, General Motors, Geico and more. However, this is set to increase drastically, as the college recently opened a new business center, which will create many new partnership activities.
28. University of California, Davis
This college is Princeton Review’s 80th best for students earning their money back. It also has the 24th highest number of alumni working in top tech companies. Lastly, it is ranked between 161st to 170th on Top Universities/QS for graduate employability. One of the best ways that the University of California, Davis creates strong business partnerships is through being a venture catalyst. This means that it drives its research projects into new business ventures and forms startup companies. It also provides grants and collaborates with other companies who will use technology that its researchers develop.
27. University of Florida
This college has the 21st highest number of graduates at top tech companies. Additionally, it’s the 35th best college for earning your tuition back. Lastly, it is between the 121st to 130th best college for graduate employability in the world. The University of Florida is famous for its high-quality online degrees, and it’s combined this with its employer engagement. It recently partnered with Walmart and a range of other companies to offer educational degrees to company employees. The employers participating in this program pay their employees’ tuition fees and give other resources for study. If you currently work for a large company that is proactive in training its employees, then you could really benefit from a University of Florida online degree.
26. University of California, San Diego
Critical Gender Studies Program
Placing at 19th for most alumni at top tech companies, 68th for colleges that pay students back and between 111th to 120th for graduate employability is University of California, San Diego. And with this college, the employers and the students are the same thing. It’s incredibly good at getting students to make their own companies and has seen alumni create over 200 startups to date. Naturally, the founders of these startups favor fellow University of California, San Diego students when they’re looking to hire new employees.
25. North Carolina State University
Forest Management Program
North Carolina State University has the 15th highest number of alumni working at top tech companies. It is also the 65th best college for earning your money back, according to Princeton Review. For graduate employability, it ranks it between 121st to 130th, according to Top Universities/QS. And since 2015, North Carolina State University has been intensely focused on building partnerships within its own state. It’s doing this through its community partnerships. For instance, the college meets with North Carolina community leaders to identify workforce skills gaps. Ultimately, both the students and the community will benefit by allowing students to meet these skills shortcomings
24. University of Maryland
Ranking at 13th on CNBC’s list of most alumni working at top tech companies and 39th on Princeton Review’s list of colleges that pay you back is the University of Maryland. It also manages to place between 151st-160th on Top Universities/QS‘s list of graduate employability. This college’s connections with employers are diverse. On top of the standard networking events and job fairs, the careers teams of the college have created more unique events, such as Intern for a Day, which is exactly as it sounds and prepares students for more long-term internships.
23. California Institute of Technology
Planetary Science Program
Caltech is the 73rd best college for alumni earning their money back, according to Princeton Review. It’s also the 73rd best college for graduate employability, according to Top Universities/QS. But the college’s real strength with employers is through organizing internships. Business Insider states that it’s the 14th best college for internships in America. The reasons for the college providing such great internship opportunities are varied. But one thing really stands out to employers: its reputation for daring research. Each year, Caltech funds research into scientific areas that exist between the lab and the marketplace that are high risk but also high reward. This initiative has been ongoing since 2009 and has innovated the industry. And if this weren’t enough, it regularly manages buildings for organizations like NASA, which is sure to keep connections strong!
22. Arizona State University
Aeronautical Management Technology Program
This college has the 18th most alumni working at top tech companies, according to CNBC. But Arizona State University’s strong employment stats don’t end there. It also has the second highest number of alumni working in banking and finance, according to Times Higher Education. And it is the 61st best college for students earning their money back after graduating, according to the Princeton Review. Lastly, it’s the 81st best college for graduate employability according to Top Universities/QS. And ASU’s approach is to integrate employers into the college’s curriculum. One example is its aviation program, where four commercial airlines have agreements to guarantee ASU students job interviews.
21. Claremont McKenna College
Organismal Biology Program
Claremont McKenna’s real advantage in finding students careers is through internships. Business Insider places the college at second for internships. Similarly, US News places the college at fifth place for internships and co-op programs. Princeton Review considers Claremont McKenna to be the 34th best college for earning your money back. And the internships that the college organizes definitely lead to strong employment after graduation. The college has even provided a list of over 200 employers that hired Claremont McKenna students between 2014 to 2016. This number is even more impressive when you consider that the college only enrolls around 350 students per year. And the hiring companies are world renowned brands like Adidas, Amazon, CBS, Google, JP Morgan and Wells Fargo.
20. University of California Los Angeles
Public Affairs Program
Top Universities/QS rates UCLA very highly, placing it at second for graduate employability in America. Other methodology lists are slightly less impressed. CNBC places it at 12th for alumni that work at top tech companies. Princeton Review places it at 18th for colleges where students earn their money back. It isn’t on any other list. UCLA’s employer partnership program has some strong members, including Charles Schwab, IBM, Deloitte, and Enterprise. It also has looser associations with Adobe, Amazon, Google, Intel, Microsoft, and Visa.
19. Georgia Institute of Technology
Literature, Media, And Communication Program
According to CNBC, Georgia Institute of Technology has the ninth highest level of alumni working at the top tech companies. Princeton Review considers it to be the 71st best college for earning your money back after graduation. Top Universities/QS places it at 43rd for graduate employability. Lastly, US News states that it has the 12th best internship and co-op programs in the country. As one of the most technologically advanced colleges in the country, Georgia Institute of Technology reflects this with its employer engagement activities. For instance, it has virtual career fairs, which give students an opportunity above just applying to jobs online but without having to attend an event in person. This approach may not suit every industry, but tech companies are definitely keen to engage.
18. Carnegie Mellon University
Human-Computer Interaction Program
Despite having a relatively small enrollment of just under 14,000 students, Carnegie Mellon University has the second highest number of students working at top tech companies in America, according to CNBC. It is also the 38th best college for students to earn their money back according to Princeton Review. It is placed at 55th for best graduate employability in the world, according to Top Universities/QS. And Carnegie Mellon offers employment prospects to students across the globe. For instance, the college has partnered with a range of leading technology companies, such as IBM, to offer internships and jobs in Africa.
17. Purdue University
This Indiana based college features on five methodology lists. CNBC states that it has the 14th highest number of graduates working at top tech companies. Princeton Review places it at 66th for colleges that pay you back. Times Higher Education notes that it has the highest number of alumni working in the automotive industry. Top Universities/QS places it at 47th for graduate employability. Lastly, US News states that it is the 17th best college for internships and co-op programs. And Purdue’s employer engagement is likely to get much better in future years. In June 2018, it teamed up with Indiana University to start CareerMakers, a program that will help businesses develop their workforces and find the right employee. It aims to fill 80,000 vacant jobs in Indiana by actively engaging with employers to identify skills gaps.
16. Northeastern University
Northeastern University places at 23rd for most alumni working at top tech companies. It’s also 11th on Princeton Review’s list of colleges that pay students back. Times Higher Education notes that it is the college that has the most alumni who work in health care. Business Insider places it at fourth for internship opportunities. Lastly, US News places it at 16th for internship and co-op program choice. These rankings are highly impressive for a college based in the incredibly competitive city of Boston, where employers have many graduates to choose from. Perhaps Northeastern’s most unique resource is its careers blog, which covers all areas of job placement for students.
15. Yale University
East Asian Languages and Literatures Program
Two Fortune 500 CEOs went to Yale University, US News states. It’s also Princeton Review’s seventh-best college for students earning their fees back. Lastly, Top Universities/QS places it at ninth for graduate employability in America. In the last few years, Yale’s career department has advanced rapidly. It now offers career events that any student can attend no matter their major. In 2016-2017, it ran 50 of these, and all had a sponsoring organization involved. These events ranged from resume and cover letter workshops to careers fairs. This approach really allows students to consider career paths that they may have been neglecting prior to attending and talking to the breadth of employers.
14. Texas A&M University
Turfgrass Science program
Texas A&M University is in joint first place for the most Fortune 500 CEOs to come out of a college. US News reports that four CEOs attended this institution. Additionally, it’s 30th for the most alumni working in top tech companies, 62nd best in colleges that pay students back and between 141st to 150th for graduate employability. And Texas A&M University is clearly putting in a lot of work when it comes to making students and employers meet. In the 2016-2017 school year, the college’s careers team created 180 outreach events and 850 workshops and programs. The college also has 1,000 active employers hiring students.
13. University of Washington
Aerospace Engineering Program
This Seattle based college is an incredible option for a student looking to work for the cutting edge tech and science industries. CNBC states that it has the most alumni of the best tech companies in America, such as Facebook and Google. Additionally, Times Higher Education notes that it has the second most alumni working in the aerospace industry. Princeton Review places it at 63rd for alumni earning their money back. Top Universities/QS places it at 64th in the world for graduate employability. These achievements are reflected on the college’s website. One thing currently boosting the prospects of engineering students is the Career Center @ Engineering, which in the last year interacted with students over 8,500 times. These interactions resulted in 67% of engineering students taking part in pre-graduation internships and over 700 companies promoting jobs directly to graduating students.
12. Dartmouth College
Dartmouth College has the ninth-best alumni network in America according to College Magazine. And it is the 25th best college for earning the tuition fees back according to Princeton Review. Lastly, it is the eighth best college for getting an internship. And it’s true that Dartmouth’s alumni are incredibly resourceful with one another. The college is proactively fostering these connections with the Dartmouth Career Network, which has over 79,500 alumni all interacting with each other on a daily basis.
11. Cornell University
This college is tied for first place as having the most Fortune 500 CEOs among its alumni. It also has the 16th highest number of alumni working at top tech companies. Princeton Review considers it to be the second best college where students earn their money back. Top Universities/QS places it at joint ninth in America for graduate employability. And Business Insider place it at 20th for internship opportunities. A large part of what makes Cornell so successful in attracting employers is its engagement with the public. Cornell is making the world a better place, and that’s getting noticed! In fact, it even incorporates entrepreneurial activities into its public good. One example is the entrepreneurship bootcamp that it hosts for veterans with disabilities. It creates companies through this program and others, which many Cornell graduates end up working for.
10. University of Southern California
Business Administration Program
This college has strong connections to multiple industries. In fact, Times Higher Education reports that it has the third highest number of alumni working in the aerospace industry and third highest number of alumni working in the TV, movie and music industries. Also, CNBC states that it has the fifth highest number of alumni working at top tech companies. Princeton Review considers it to be the 14th best college for students to earn their degree cost back. Top Universities/QS considers it to be the 59th best college for graduate employability in the world. The college has a range of partner programs that allow employers to hire students directly. For instance, the University of Southern California’s school of business has a program that has recruiter receptions for networking with the college’s top sophomores, juniors and seniors and a career conference that has educational panels.
9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology
Nuclear Science and Engineering Program
MIT features on a range of methodology lists. College Magazine places it at seventh for best alumni network. CNBC states that it is the college with the 11th most alumni at top tech companies. Princeton Review states that it’s the 41st best college for graduates to earn their money back. Top Universities/QS places it at fourth for graduate employability, employer reputation, and alumni outcome indicators. Lastly, US News places it at 14th place in colleges with the best internship and co-op programs. That MIT manages to secure so many rankings on methodology lists is unsurprising. In 2017, it worked with over 700 companies, earned $148 million in research sponsorship from companies and received 794 invention disclosures from its technology licensing office.
8. University of Pennsylvania
The University of Pennsylvania performs strongly on four methodology lists. College Magazine states that it has the fifth best alumni network. US News points out that two Fortune 500 CEOs have degrees from the college. CNBC notes that it has the 26th highest number of alumni working at the top tech companies. Princeton Review considers it to be the 23rd best college that pays students back in America. And the college connects students to businesses through a range of great programs that cater to specialties The college’s robotics department, GRASP Lab, for example, has industry days every year that have speakers and networking activities with execs from companies such as Toyota Research Institute.
7. University of California, Berkeley
Society and Environment Program
This college has the fourth highest number of alumni that work at one of the world’s top tech companies, according to CNBC. Additionally, it’s the 12th best college in America for earning your degree money back, according to the Princeton Review. Lastly, it is the fifth best college for graduate employability in America according to Top Universities/QS. In fact, the students at Berkeley are in such high demand, that the college has created something called Berkeley Circle, which charges $3,500, $6,500 and $10,000 for different levels of exposure to Berkeley students. Currently, it has over 60 businesses signed up to the initiative, with participants including Bank of the West, Bloomberg, Cisco, Ebay, IBM, Indeed, KPMG, Macy’s, Apple, Microsoft and more.
6. Princeton University
College Magazine considers Princeton to have the sixth best alumni network of any college. Princeton Review names it at the fifth best college for getting your money back. And Top Universities/QS places it at eighth for graduate employability. In the last three years, Princeton University has really reinvigorated the way that it connects with employers. This started with the opening of the Princeton Entrepreneurial Hub, which incubates startups and exchanges ideas between businesses, students, and faculty. Princeton also hosts a range of entrepreneurs in residence who impart their knowledge to students and grow professional networks. It currently has Greg Olsen, former astronaut and current president of GHO Ventures; and Brian Trelstad, partnering at Bridges Ventures.
5. New York University
Jazz Studies Program
Top Universities/QS is quick to point out that New York University has the third best employer-student connections. This is due to the college’s amazing career fairs; each one is specifically focused on a particular major. Additionally, College Magazine considers NYU to have the third-best alumni network in America. Lastly, Times Higher Education notes that the college provides the fourth most employment in the TV, movie and music industries. That means that it’s the highest placed college outside of California for entertainment industry employment. It’s unsurprising, as NYU’s school of arts has a range of amazing opportunities for students. For instance, the Tisch Industry Network Database provides career guidance and insight from professionals and has built many long-term working relationships.
4. Harvard University
Social Studies Program
Princeton Review considers Harvard to be the top college where students make their degree pay off. Additionally, Top Universities/QS ranks it third for graduate employability. CNBC states that it has the 27th highest level of graduates working in top tech companies. Harvard connects with businesses in many innovative ways. Its reputation precedes itself, so many companies attend its events such as Guppy Tank, which takes place every four months and sees talks with a range of business leaders about the college’s life science ventures.
3. Stanford University
This college is closely linked with Silicon Valley, meaning that it has taken the tech world by storm. CNBC states that it has the third highest number of alumni working at top tech companies. Even better, Times Higher Education notes that it has the largest amount of alumni in the tech industry of any college in America. And Top Universities/QS places it at number one for global graduate employability. Princeton Review considers it to be the fourth best college for earning degree costs back. And Business Insider places the college at 17th best for internships. The internet is filled with discussion on how Stanford is so well connected with Silicon Valley, it almost goes without saying. But many companies engage with the college from across the world by licensing its technology, sponsoring research and in numerous other ways.
2. Pennsylvania State University
College Magazine considers Penn State to have America’s best alumni network. US News backs this up, stating that two Fortune 500 CEOS have degrees from this college. And Princeton Review considers Penn State to be the 17th best college for students to earn their money back. Undoubtedly, Penn State’s connections with businesses large and small, local and international are vast! For instance, one of their many tech partners is Lockheed Martin. The business has been in a partnership with Penn State since 2016. The college and the company collaborate on research projects, college programs and grow jobs together. Naturally, this benefits the students immensely, as the research projects involve them extensively and the majority of the jobs created go to new graduates. Additionally, Lockheed Martin managers meet with a range of student organizations, such as the Society of Hispanic Professional Engineers, to provide industry insights and advice. And this is just one of the numerous business partnerships that Penn State has created.
1. University of Michigan, Ann Arbor
Music Theory Program
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor is featured on most methodology lists. College Magazine considers it to have the fourth most powerful alumni network in America. US News states that it is tied for the college with the most top Fortune 500 CEO graduates, with four. CNBC states that it’s the college with the seventh highest number of alumni at top tech companies. Princeton Review places it at 21st for colleges that pay their students back after graduation. And Top Universities/QS names it the 25th best college in the world for graduate employability. What is the University of Michigan, Ann Arbor doing to put itself ahead? It’s partly because the careers team at the college is so hands on. As the college’s site states, “We will work to foster a positive career development experience for you, from your first day through graduation and beyond. Our team works closely with you in assessing your career interests, exploring career options, and developing job search strategies for securing internships and full-time positions through individual career counseling sessions, professional development workshops, employer/alumni panels and networking events.” That is clearly a leading range of services!