26 MBA Programs that Lead to the Highest Starting Salaries
One of the main reasons people go to business school is to make more money. In addition to learning more advanced leadership skills and increasing the value of one’s professional/personal networks, applicants also cite salary as one of their main motivations for wanting to obtain their MBA. However, when reviewing the data in U.S. News & World Report for the class of 2016, Veritas Prep found some interesting trends that could actually influence how you rank your target schools and craft your school list.
American Business Schools Sorted by Average Starting Salary and Bonus
|School||Average Starting Salary and Bonus||Percent Employed at Graduation||Average GMAT Score (full-time)||Acceptance Rate (full-time)|
|University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)||$155,058||85.80%||730||19.60%|
|University of Virginia (Darden)||$150,823||80.70%||712||26.50%|
|Dartmouth College (Tuck)||$148,997||86.80%||717||22.40%|
|University of Chicago (Booth)||$147,475||84.90%||726||23.60%|
|Cornell University (Johnson)||$146,252||79.80%||700||27.60%|
|University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ross)||$145,926||85.60%||708||26.30%|
|New York University (Stern)||$145,413||82.10%||710||23.10%|
|Duke University (Fuqua)||$144,799||83.10%||695||22.10%|
|Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)||$143,565||81.20%||724||11.70%|
|Northwestern University (Kellogg)||$141,694||82.80%||728||20.10%|
|University of California, Los Angeles (Anderson)||$140,457||73.80%||715||20.70%|
|Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)||$140,289||76.00%||686||30.30%|
|University of California, Berkeley (Haas)||$140,067||68.60%||717||12.00%|
|Emory University (Goizueta)||$138,864||84.00%||683||33.10%|
|University of Texas, Austin (McCombs)||$135,194||77.50%||699||28.00%|
|University of Washington (Foster)||$133,299||85.30%||691||23.90%|
|University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler)||$131,908||75.10%||700||36.40%|
|Rice University (Jones)||$131,829||75.20%||690||26.60%|
|Vanderbilt University (Owen)||$129,587||80.30%||691||45.50%|
|Indiana University (Kelley)||$128,637||83.90%||670||31.40%|
|University of Southern California (Marshall)||$126,932||75.20%||692||44.60%|
|Georgetown University (McDonough)||$124,417||69.10%||692||44.60%|
*Based on U.S. News and World Report 2016 graduating class data.
Where You Come From Matters a Lot
Before you get too excited about these high average starting salaries, there are a couple of important factors to keep in mind.
For some of you, the jump from your pre-MBA salary to your post-MBA salary won’t be that dramatic. For example, if you were doing investment banking pre-MBA, and you return to that industry post-MBA, your increase in salary won’t be nearly as large as someone who is coming from the teaching/education sector, for example.
Great Bang for Your Buck
Also, you’ll notice that most of the schools on this list are top 25 schools - the University of Washington (Foster, #27) and Rice University (Jones, #29) being the exceptions. Generally speaking, the schools with highest earning graduates are pretty selective (as you might expect).
Something that jumped out to us when interpreting this data was that you don’t necessarily have to go to a top 10 business school to be in the top 10 based on average starting salary and bonus. The University of Virginia (Darden) ranked 14th overall has the 4th highest average starting salary and bonus of $150,823. Cornell is ranked #16 overall, but 8th based on average starting salary and bonus, two spots higher than NYU (Stern). That being said, it’s the difference between $145,413 at NYU and $146,252 at Cornell.
What About the Biggest Names?
You might be wondering why highly ranked schools like MIT (Sloan) and Northwestern (Kellogg) don’t show up higher on this list. That raises a great question because even if you go to a school that’s known for producing high earning MBAs, it can vary from year to year. For instance, at MIT, there was a slight decrease in 2016 salaries, which may be attributed to the fact that fewer graduates went into investment banking than previous years. In addition, fewer graduates reported receiving signing bonuses.
Another reason may be that post-MBAs are increasingly focused on creating start-ups. As founders and CEOs of brand new companies, the reported salaries are typically much lower than a person employed by an established consulting firm for instance. Read more about that here.
Your post MBA earning potential can certainly be a factor in determining whether or not you pursue an MBA and where to attend. But make sure to keep all the influential factors in mind when selecting your program! To continue the conversation, contact us at (800) 925-7737 or sign up for a free consultation to discuss your business school plans with an expert. Happy application season!