Top 30 European Universities with the highest paid graduates

With UK universities increasing their tuition fees, European universities outside the UK have become an even more attractive option for students. But which produce the best paid graduates?

We have analysed 5,622 alumni's (5-10 years' professional experience) salaries and bonuses who graduated from a European university with a Bachelor or Masters degree. The results challenge the usual rankings with a breakthrough from Switzerland dominating other countries. The UK comes in at 5th place.

UniversityCountryMedian Pay
1University of St. GallenSwitzerland160,000
2University of ZurichSwitzerland140,000
3Swiss Federal Institute of Technology in ZurichSwitzerland135,000
4Zurich University of Applied ScienceSwitzerland127,000
5London Business SchoolUK102,000
6HEC ParisFrance97,000
7MINES ParisTechFrance91,000
8Ecole PolytechniqueFrance88,000
9ESLSCA Business SchoolFrance86,000
10London School of EconomicsUK85,000
11ESCP EuropeFrance84,000
12Ecole des Ponts ParisTechFrance83,000
13Erasmus University RotterdamNetherlands83,000
14Bristol UniversityUK82,000
15Cambridge University & Judge Business SchoolUK82,000
16Oxford University & Said Business SchoolUK82,000
17Ecole Centrale ParisFrance81,000
18Imperial College London & Tanaka Business SchoolUK75,000
19Maastricht UniversityNetherlands74,000
20Solvay Brussels School of Economics and ManagementBelgium73,000
21EM LyonFrance72,000
23Leuven UniversityBelgium70,000
24City University London & Cass Business SchoolUK70,000
25Warwick University & Business SchoolUK69,000
26Catholic Institute of Business Administration ComillasSpain68,000
27EDHEC Business SchoolFrance67,000
28Bocconi University & SDA School of ManagementItaly66,000
29University of LundSweden66,000
30Paris Dauphine UniversityFrance65,000

Swiss Breakthrough

Four Swiss universities hold the top spot in our league table. These prestigious institutions list alumni such as Nick Hayek - CEO of Swatch Group, Paul Achleitner - Chairman of Deutsche Bank - to name but a few [1]. With an excellent education system and thriving economy, Switzerland topping the rankings is not a huge surprise. St Gallen's Masters' programme is particularly popular and well-regarded by employers in the financial sector in Switzerland which pays substantial bonuses early on.

Masters versus Bachelors

French universities also appear high on the list. Traditionally, French students graduate with a Master's degree, only recently have French universities started offering Bachelor programs. 90% of respondents from French universities held a Master's degree compared to only 50% from Oxford or Cambridge which could explain how they can demand high pay right from the start of their career.

CountryCost of Living Index

Pay indexed on cost of living

Most graduates start their career in the country in which they completed their studies. While it may seem that Swiss graduates earn 40% more than their UK peers from top universities, when adjusting for Switzerland's 40% higher cost of living [2], the pay gap disappears.

Best return on investment?

Tuition fees in most European universities are much lower than the UK. At the University of St. Gallen, tuition fees are less than 2,000 a year compared to 9,000 for most UK institutions. After obtaining a degree at St. Gallen, why not start working in the UK to benefit both from low tuition fees and avoid an expensive lifestyle in Switzerland?

The question of return on investment is at the forefront of most students' mind when they look to enroll on a course. Being mindful that Masters' fees tend to be higher than Bachelor's, they clearly drive high pay levels upon graduation. Some universities also see a high proportion of their students start their careers in the high paying financial sector, which a clear aim: pay off their debts and polish off their formal education with hands on experience before moving to other horizons.

[1] Notable Alumni of University of Saint Gallen
[2] Cost of Living Index by country


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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