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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 2017, 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) $159,815 82.3% 730 19.2%
Stanford Univeristy $159,440 63.9% 737 5.7%
Harvard University $158,049 78.9% 731 9.9%
University of Virginia (Darden) $153,576 83.4% 713 24.5%
Dartmouth College (Tuck) $152,805 80.2% 722 23.0%
Cornell University (Johnson) $152,207 80.3% 700 29.9%
Columbia University $151,849 69.9% 727 14.0%
University of Chicago (Booth) $151,085 88.0% 730 23.5%
University of Michigan, Ann Arbor (Ross) $150,052 89.7% 716 25.3%
Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan) $148,451 84.2% 722 11.6%
Duke University (Fuqua) $147,857 87.0% 702 11.6%
University of California, Berkeley (Haas) $146,752 66.3% 725 12.9%
Northwestern University (Kellogg) $146,259 81.6% 732 20.2%
New York University (Stern) $146,024 79.1% 714 20.9%
Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper) $145,463 81.1% 691 29.9%
University of Washington (Foster) $143,674 85.2% 693 22.4%
Emory University (Goizueta) $143,410 84.6% 682 34.6%
University of California, Los Angeles (Anderson) $141,197 74.4% 715 22.3%
University of Texas, Austin (McCombs) $139,406 81.5% 703 27.8%
Yale University $137,155 75.2% 727 17.4%
University of Southern California (Marshall) $135,812 74.9% 703 29.1%
Vanderbilt University (Owen) $134,066 75.8% 688 43.2%
Rice University (Jones) $131,821 83.0% 711 27.2%
University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill (Kenan-Flagler) $131,469 79.1% 701 37.2%
Georgetown University (McDonough) $130,588 68.3% 692 47.8%
Washington University in St. Louis (Olin) $125,420 72.0% 694 39.7%

*Based on U.S. News and World Report 2017 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 - Vanderbilt University (Owen, #26) is the only exception. 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 13th overall has the 4th highest average starting salary and bonus of $153,576. Cornell is ranked #15 overall, but is 6th based on average starting salary and bonus, two spots higher than the University of Chicago (which is currently tied for a 1st place ranking with Harvard). That being said, it’s the difference between $151,085 at Booth and $152,207 at Cornell.


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!


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