Updated November 29, 2022

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 ... is an advertising-supported site. Featured or trusted partner programs and all school search, finder, or match results are for schools that compensate us. This compensation does not influence our school rankings, resource guides, or other editorially-independent information published on this site.

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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:

Business Insider, The 25 Best Colleges for Landing an Internship:

QS/Top Universities, 10 of the Best US Universities for Graduate Employability 2018:

QS/Top Universities Graduate Employability Rankings 2018:

Times Higher Education, Which Colleges do Facebook, Google and Other Top Employers Recruit From?

Princeton Review, Colleges That Pay You Back:

CNBC, The 30 colleges with the most alums at top tech companies:

US News, Top Fortune 500 CEOs: Where They Went to College:

College Magazine, The 10 Most Powerful 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:

#1 University of Michigan-Ann Arbor Ann Arbor, MI
#2 Pennsylvania State University University Park, PA
#3 Stanford University Stanford, CA
#4 Harvard University Cambridge, MA
#5 New York University New York City, NY
#6 Princeton University Princeton, NJ
#7 University of California, Berkeley Berkeley, CA
#8 University of Pennsylvania Philadelphia, PA
#9 Massachusetts Institute of Technology Cambridge, MA
#10 University of Southern California Los Angeles, CA

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  1. University of Michigan-Ann Arbor

    Ann Arbor, MI

    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 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!

  2. Pennsylvania State University

    University Park, PA

    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 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.

  3. Stanford University

    Stanford, CA

    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 with discussion on how Stanford is so well connected with Silicon Valley, it almost goes without saying. But many companies with the college from across the world by licensing its technology, sponsoring research and in numerous other ways.

  4. Harvard University

    Cambridge, MA

    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 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.

  5. New York University

    New York City, NY

    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 , the Tisch Industry Network Database provides career guidance and insight from professionals and has built many long-term working relationships.

  6. Princeton University

    Princeton, NJ

    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 with the opening of the Princeton Entrepreneurial Hub, which incubates startups and exchanges ideas between businesses, students, and faculty. Princeton also 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.

  7. University of California, Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA

    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 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 including Bank of the West, Bloomberg, Cisco, Ebay, IBM, Indeed, KPMG, Macy's, Apple, Microsoft and more.

  8. University of Pennsylvania

    Philadelphia, PA

    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 every year that have speakers and networking activities with execs from companies such as Toyota Research Institute.

  9. Massachusetts Institute of Technology

    Cambridge, MA

    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 with over 700 companies, earned $148 million in research sponsorship from companies and received 794 invention disclosures from its technology licensing office.

  10. University of Southern California

    Los Angeles, CA

    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 , 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.

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