MBAs That Return More Than $3 Million

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by John A. Byrne on

Want to earn more than $3 million over the next 20 years? You’ll need to get into one of only seven MBA programs in the U.S., according to a new study of MBA career compensation out today (June 13).

Not surprisingly, Harvard MBAs pulled down the most: a whopping $3.6 million over a 20-year span. Wharton grads were next in the gravy train line, with $3.3 million in median pay, followed by Stanford MBAs whose estimated earnings hit were just shy of $3.3 million. And get this: these numbers don’t include stock grants or options, which would significantly increase these numbers.

PayScale crunched the data for Bloomberg BusinessWeek’s top 57 full-time MBA programs in the U.S. On average, graduates from these schools earned about $2.4 million each over a 20-year career, or $122,146 annually. BusinessWeek reported, however, that graduates of the 10 programs with the highest earnings brought home an average of just over $3 million each, or $153,568 a year, compared with under $2.3 million, or $114,752 annually, for the remaining 47 schools ranked by the magazine.

Of course, there’s more at work here than where a person got his or her MBA. Geography and industry choices also play an undetermined role in the estimates of compensation by PayScale, which collects salary data from individuals through online pay-comparison tools. For each school, PayScale estimated median cash compensation—including base pay and bonuses but not stock options—for five points in their careers. The numbers are based on a sample of 24,000 MBAs from the top 57 schools ranked by BusinessWeek.

The data below, for the top 25 highest earning MBAs, shows median pay ten years after graduation, 20 years out, and total pay over a career lasting 20 years. BusinessWeek calls the 20-year totals a “rough estimate.” Nonetheless, for most MBAs, that would mean compensation until they turn 48—long before retirement. So these numbers are fairly conservative estimates of pay over a career.


Business School Total Over 20 Years Median Pay 20 Years Out Median Pay 10 Years Out
1. Harvard Business School $3,606,601 $217,000 $169,000
2. Pennsylvania (Wharton) $3,340,334 $200,000 $155,000
3. Stanford $3,291,894 $211,000 $157,000
4. Columbia $3,203,292 $188,000 $153,000
5. Dartmouth (Tuck) $3,092,471 $172,000 $145,000
6. MIT (Sloan) $3,056,072 $180,000 $137,000
7. Northwestern (Kellogg) $3,034,837 $195,000 $135,000
8. California (Berkeley) $2,951,549 $174,000 $135,000
9. Chicago (Booth) $2,919,270 $192,000 $132,000
10. Virginia (Darden) $2,883,197 $179,000 $137,000
11. Yale School of Management $2,838,664 $159,000 $141,000
12. Duke (Fuqua) $2,814,183 $172,000 $132,000
13. Cornell (Johnson) $2,785,912 $173,000 $128,000
14. New York (Stern) $2,725,321 $163,000 $124,000
15. UCLA (Anderson) $2,702,338 $159,000 $131,000
16. Emory (Goizueta) $2,701,743 $178,000 $121,000
17. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) $2,654,521 $159,000 $126,000
18. Georgetown (McDonough) $2,618,025 $170,000 $115,000
19. Vanderbilt (Owen) $2,595,074 $170,000 $122,000
20. North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) $2,569,966 $158,000 $116,000
21. Notre Dame (Mendoza) $2,554,927 $154,000 $125,000
22. Texas-Austin (McCombs) $2,529,283 $166,000 $120,000
23. Michigan (Ross) $2,495,495 $143,000 $118,000
24. Southern California (Marshall) $2,446,050 $143,000 $118,000
25. Rice (Jones) $2,443,862 $143,000 $121,000

Source: Payscale for BusinessWeek


Air Time - Comments
  • kartik sing raizada

    beste business men salary 50 milian dolar

  • AnaVerma

    can you suggest me some good colleges in that profile?

  • AnaVerma

    is there any mail ID where I can reach you directly?

  • AnaVerma

    Thank you for your response John…esp for providing this angle of thought!
    my profile in a crux:
    GMAT 610
    Grad: BBA in IB..3.0 GPA
    3.5yrs WE
    Female Indian
    24yrs age

  • I do believe it’s a good option–but it’s also important to assess this decision within a framework of other schools that you might be able to get into.

  • AnaVerma

    Please advise if Johns Hopkins Carey Business school’s Global MBA is a good option?…worth the money?..esp for international students
    Please suggest

  • Thanks for posting that John…looks like I’m now able to post comments on my own.

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