Are you ready to find your fit?

For many college students, the ability to find a job after graduation is their biggest concern. Even before you enroll, you may be worried about the reality of finding a fulfilling career. But there’s an easy way for you to ensure that you’ll get a great job. You need to study in a city where there are plenty of opportunities! This article reveals to you the best colleges in American cities where job openings are literally everywhere.

Attending college in a city with many diverse jobs, as opposed to one that focuses on a certain industry, has its own advantages. Firstly, you’ll be in a place with a more diversified economy, making it more stable. Secondly, you will be able to get a stopgap job more easily, ensuring that you don’t have to move back in with your parents. Thirdly, it’ll give you the opportunity to switch careers with ease, if you want to.

There is a range of lists on the internet that claims to show you which cities will offer you the most job options. The problem with these is that each one uses different ranking criteria. Some focus on the entire job market size. Others take in different data, such as the cost of living in a city, into its ranking. What this ranking does is combine those lists and offer you a definitive guide to the best places in America to both study and work.

Our college selections below all lead to great opportunities. However, they still may not be right for you. Everyone is different and has their own requirements. But this list can still be a useful resource, as you can see what each city and college has going for it. You can also look to see if any of the below cities have a college that suits your needs more closely. Additionally, you can compare the cities in this article to the ones you’re considering studying/living in. All in all, you’re sure to learn some important things from the information below.


Our sources come in two forms: articles that discuss the cities with the best jobs, and articles that discuss the best colleges. Both are relevant to this ranking. Every source is a respected provider of information. Though their rankings may differ, their research methods can be trusted. However, to ensure that their statements are true, we’ve then researched the cities and colleges mentioned.

Our sources are as follows:

Indeed, Report: What is the Best City for Job Seekers?: http://blog.Indeed.com/2018/04/12/best-cities-for-job-seekers/

US News, The 25 Best Places to Find a Job in the U.S. in 2018: https://realestate.usnews.com/real-estate/slideshows/the-25-best-places-to-find-a-job-in-the-us?slide=26

ZipRecruiter, The Best Cities for College Grads to Start Their Careers in 2018: https://www.ziprecruiter.com/blog/best-job-markets-college-grads-2018/

WalletHub, 2018’s Best & Worst Places to Start a Career: https://WalletHub.com/edu/best-worst-cities-to-start-a-career/3626/

Livability, 2018 Top 10 Best Cities for Recent College Grads: https://livability.com/list/top-10-best- cities-for-recent-college-grads/2018/10

SmartAsset, The Best Cities for New College Grads in 2018: https://smartasset.com/mortgage/the-best-cities-for-new-college-grads-in-2018

Times Higher Education, Graduate Employability: top universities in the United States ranked by employers: https://www.timeshighereducation.com/student/best-universities/graduate-employability-top-universities-united-states-ranked-employers

Niche.com, 2019 Best Colleges: https://www.niche.com/colleges/search/best-colleges/

Forbes, America’s Top Colleges: https://www.forbes.com/top-colleges/list/

Our ranking has selected one college per city. This is to ensure that people that read this article are given the most choice in terms of locations. To qualify for our list, each city needs to be featured on at least two methodology sources, with one of the rankings being in the top 10. And each college needs to have been featured on at least two methodology sources.

Our rankings are below:

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  1. Creighton University

    Omaha, NE

    Five out of six methodology lists consider Omaha, Nebraska to be one of the best places to start a career. It has a strong job market and is incredibly affordable. Indeed places it at 20th but notes that it has the fifth best job market. US News places it at 24th, noting that its median home price is a very low $165,667. WalletHub places it at 55th, but it does note that the city's quality of life is the 23rd best. SmartAsset places it at seventh. Lastly, ZipRecruiter considers it the best city in America for graduates looking to start a career, noting that the healthcare, construction, and energy industries have more positions than they can fill. The top college in this booming town is Creighton University, which is Niche.com's 212th best American college and Forbes's 222nd best college. Creighton University can even help students get into their careers in record time. It does this through the  Accelerated Bachelor's to Master's program,  which gets students into the workforce one to two years earlier than most degree programs.

  2. Stanford University

    Stanford, CA

    San Jose is the only city on this list to get two first-place rankings. And Stanford University makes the top three of every single college focused methodology list. Indeed notes that San Jose has risen from sixth to first in one year. US News places the college at an equal standing with its neighbor, San Francisco, naming them both the best city for jobs. It also notes that San Jose has the highest salary out of America's 125 biggest metropolitan areas, with a median of $78,990. WalletHub is not so generous and considers the city to be the 42nd best college for jobs. The source does note that the city has the 32nd best professional opportunities, however. At present, 69% of  graduating  students stay in Stanford University's home state of California, with many choosing San Jose as their home.

  3. University of California, Berkeley

    Berkeley, CA

    Only US News gives San Francisco a first place rating, and even then it is tied with another city. But most methodology lists agree that it's an incredible place for graduates. The advantage of San Francisco over US News's other top placed city, San Jose, is that it's got a population more than twice the size and much more diversity in jobs. Indeed places San Francisco at second, noting that its job market favorability, work/life balance, and job security are all factors that contribute to this. WalletHub places the college at 17th but notes that its professional opportunities are the 13th best of any city. SmartAsset places the college at 19th. However, it does consider San Fran to be the most fun city in America. University of California, Berkeley is the top performing college near San Francisco on the methodology lists. Times Higher Education considers it to be the ninth best college for graduate employability in America. Niche.com places it at 37th for best colleges. And Forbes ranks it at 14th. The college also has a campus extension  based  in the heart of San Francisco itself, which helps with connecting students to the job opportunities in the area.

  4. Macalester College

    Saint Paul, MN

    For a student who wants their career earnings to go a long way, Minneapolis is their best bet. ZipRecruiter notes that its median graduate salary is $51,200 and that its median rent is only $1,655. Overall, the city places at second on the list's ranking. And jobs are easy to come by in Minneapolis. Indeed names it the third best city for job market favorability and places it at sixth overall on its ranking. US News and WalletHub both name it the 11th best city in America for starting a career. And Macalester College outperforms its local rival, University of Minnesota, Twin Cities on both Niche.com and Forbes, ranking at 85th and 87th respectively. Macalester ensures that graduates have strong opportunities for gaining jobs in the local area. This is  because  "More than 60 courses partner with businesses and organizations in the Twin Cities community."

  5. University of Washington

    Bothell, WA

    Four out of six methodology lists name Seattle as one of America's top 25 places for jobs. SmartAsset places it at 24th, noting that it is one of the most fun but expensive places in America. WalletHub places it at 16th. Indeed places it at ninth, noting that its job market is the sixth best in the country. Lastly, US News places it at sixth. It also notes that some of the world's top companies, such as Starbucks, reside in the city. The University of Washington is the best college in this city, according to all three college ranking methodology lists. Times Higher Education places it at 27th for graduate employability. Niche.com names it the 74th best college in America. And Forbes places it at 72nd. The college has a  strong  office for regional and community relations.

  6. University of Wisconsin, Madison

    Madison, WI

    Ranking at 19th on WalletHub, 18th on SmartAsset, 10th on US News and 10th on Livability, the methodology lists agree that Madison is the perfect place for landing a career. US News in particular notes that many startups are attracted to the area, which is a strong source of entry-level employment. WalletHub also considers the city to have the third best quality of life for career starters. University of Wisconsin, Madison is the best college in the area, ranking at 75th on Forbes and 60th on Niche.com. The college is helping its economy thrive in many ways. For example, it runs a free mentorship  program  for Wisconsin based startups, which has turned many companies into thriving local employers.

  7. Miami University

    Hamilton, OH

    The city of Cincinnati's highest ranking comes on SmartAsset, where it places at second for best American city for college grads. It is also the ranking's second most affordable city in America. The city's next best ranking is on Livability, where it places at seventh. It places at 10th on ZipRecruiter, with the source noting that many mega companies are headquartered in the city. Cincinnati's worst placing appears on WalletHub, where it ranks at 35th best place for career starters. And approximately 35 miles from Cincinnati is Miami University. This college makes 156th on Niche's best colleges list and 159th on Forbes's list. The college has been a positive force in its home state. In fact, from 2016 to 2017, its economic  impact  was $2.3 billion.

  8. Colorado School of Mines

    Golden, CO

    All signs point to Denver being a booming city. ZipRecruiter notes that the city is becoming a new Silicon Valley. It also points out that the unemployment rate is only 2.3% and names it the ninth best city for college grads to start their careers. WalletHub considers the city as the eighth best to start a career. Lastly, US News places the city at fifth and notes that the aerospace, defense, and tourism industries are growing significantly. The best college near this city is Colorado School of Mines. Forbes names it the 117th best college in America, and Niche.com named it the 71st best. The college's newsroom is filled with stories of how it is helping the local economy. For  instance , GoFarm is a student-run non-profit which improves local food access.

  9. Carnegie Mellon University

    Pittsburgh, PA

    This city makes three methodology lists. WalletHub names it the 13th best city for starting a career. And both SmartAsset and ZipRecruiter consider it to be the fourth best US city for jobs. The only negative about Pittsburgh is that its job market is slightly smaller and its unemployment slightly higher than many other cities on this list. However, both SmartAsset and WalletHub rank it highly for quality of life. The top college to tap into this fun environment is Carnegie Mellon University, with all three college-focused methodology lists naming it one of America's top 50 colleges. The college is quick to  praise  its home city, from its cultural highlights to outstanding food options.

  10. Emory University

    Atlanta, GA

    Of the three job prospect methodology lists that Atlanta features on, SmartAsset places it the lowest, at 25th. The only aspect that stops it gaining a significantly higher ranking on that source is the city's relatively high cost (although on a national scale, it is still low.) Indeed places it at 22nd, but it also notes that the city offers the seventh best salaries in the country. Lastly, WalletHub places Atlanta at third and states that it has the second best professional opportunities in America. And two out of three college ranking methodology sources consider Emory University to be the best college in the city. Forbes names the college the 52nd best in America. Niche.com ranks it at 27th. But Times Higher Education ranks Georgia Institute of Technology higher. However, 40% of Emory's alumni  stay  in the state of Georgia permanently, meaning that Emory can definitely be a stronger option for those looking to make Atlanta their home.

By BVS Staff
July 2020

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