When The Sky Is Nearly the Limit: Highest Paid MBAs of 2010

by John A. Byrne on Print Print


Highest  2010 Salary School Industry Location
$250,000* Harvard Private Equity New England
$330,000 Stanford Private Equity Europe
$300,000 Chicago Private Equity Unknown
$350,000 Wharton Private Equity New York
$300,000 Columbia Investment Mgt. New York
$225,000* Dartmouth Private Equity Mid-Atlantic
$300,000 Kellogg Strategy Consulting Chicago
$180,000 MIT Finance Mid-West
$152,000 Duke Health Care South

SOURCE: Business school employment reports. * An estimate based on Harvard’s report that a $185,000 base salary for one of its Class of 2010 MBAs is at the 75th percentile of the range of offers for private grads going into private equity. An estimate based on Tuck’s report that a $201,000 base salary for one of its Class of 2010 MBAs is at the 90th percentile of the range of offers to the class.


Most business schools try to play these numbers down because they don’t want to raise unrealistic expectations among applicants and students. After all, the average starting pay for MBAs from most elite schools is a third or less of these outsized gains. The University of Virginia’s Darden School and the University of Michigan’s Ross School only report median and average compensation numbers so that applicants never know how much the lowest or highest-paid graduates pull down in base salary. Harvard Business School and Dartmouth’s Tuck School takes the focus off their highest paid grads by respectively reporting only the 75th percentile and 90th percentile numbers.

On the other extreme, Wharton reported that the lowest-paid MBA in the Class of 2010 received a base salary of juist $25,000 a year for a job in the “media and entertainment” industry in the midwest. At Stanford, the lowest paid MBA this year accepted a health care job paying $40,000–less than the lowest paid non-profit job which paid $50,000 in base salary.


Year Highest Salary Industry Highest Total Comp
2010 $350,000 PE/Investment Mgt. Unknown
2009 $420,000 Hedge Fund Unknown
2008 $300,000 Private Equity Unknown
2007 $392,000 Private Equity Unknown
2006 $300,000 Private Equity $425,000
2005 $330,000 Private Equity $465,000
2004 $180,000 Private Equity $680,000
2003 $225,000 Unknown $435,000
2001 $150,000 PE/Venture Capital Unknown
2000 $160,000 Investment Mgt. Unknown

SOURCE: Wharton Career Reports. Record in bold.

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  • Rutgersdude

    I graduated from Rutgers and made $900k in my first year. I didnt bother filling out the college comp survey, that why it doesnt appear here.

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  • Matt


    First, thanks for the work you do on this site. In regards to this story, I would love to hear what type of background these highest paid applicants had prior to entering b-school. Were they already highly paid prior to their education, or was this as high a markup in salary as it sounds?

    I know it may be very difficult to find this type of information, but it would be great to hear anything that may provide context.


    I recall a story from around 1998 revealing that top programs — HBS and Stanford, for example — were caught sharing information with one another as to which applicants they planned to accept. They did this to keep yield rates as high as possible. The programs claim to have fixed this “procedural error,” but I wonder if any recent admissions officers have updated news along these lines.

  • califmerchant

    thats nothing, i make $3M a year, without an MBA, beat that

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