The optimistic vibe in MBA hiring has apparently met or exceeded expectations, according to a new study of job placement and salary data at the top 30 U.S. business schools by Poets&Quants. There was no shortage of job offers for graduating MBAs in the Class of 2013, making predictions for the upcoming year fairly upbeat.
This year, well over half of Poets&Quants’ 30-top-ranked U.S. schools reported stable or improved job placement rates. Some schools reported dramatic increases in job offers to their graduating students. The University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School saw an improvement of eight percentage points over last year so that 96.1% of its MBA graduates had job offers three months after graduation, up from only 88% last year. Along with Ohio State’s Fisher College of Business, Kenan-Flagler posted the best MBA job placement rates for a public business school in the U.S.
The biggest surprises in the study? For the second consecutive year, Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business boasted the best MBA placement record of any U.S. business school in the Top 30, with 98.1% of the Class of 2013 reporting job offers three months after graduation. That is a full ten percentage points ahead of UCLA’s Anderson School, with 88.0% of graduates having offers, or the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business, where 88.7% of this year’s MBAs had offers three months after commencement.
WHARTON & COLUMBIA WERE AMONG THE SCHOOLS WITH THE BEST PLACEMENT RECORDS
Of the big name players in the MBA market, the best numbers came from two schools that have had to adjust to significant downsizing on Wall Street given their renown strength in finance. The University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School reported that 97.8% of its Class of 2013 had a job offer three months after graduation, the highest rate of employment at Wharton in ten years. Columbia University’s Business School also reported that an exceptionally high 97.0% had offers. After Goizueta, Wharton and Columbia had the best MBA placement records in the U.S. this year. New York University’s Stern School, whose fortunes are also somewhat tied to Wall Street, had its best MBA placement year in the past four years, with 96.0% of this year’s class with job offers three months after commencement.
Another surprise. Both Wharton and Stanford Graduate School of Business graduates reported higher median starting salaries this year than graduates of Harvard Business School. In all likelihood, it’s the first time that Wharton’s base salaries have exceeded Harvard. The difference is little–just $5,000–but it’s a completely unexpected turn of events. Wharton and Stanford MBAs earned the highest median salaries this year–$125,000–with Harvard next at $120,000, tied with Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, MIT Sloan, and UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business. For Wharton, it also meant median base salaries rose for the first time in two years.
Harvard attributed the difference to the fact that HBS students are pursuing more options where they can have impact sooner rather than later. This year, for example, there was a 50% increase in the numbers of students going into the technology sector, which tends to pay less than either consulting or banking. Some 18% of the class took jobs in tech, up from 12% of the class in 2012. “For many of these folks, that meant taking an equity stake in a new or recent venture, rather than salary,” explained Kristen Fitzpatrick, who heads Harvard’s career and professional development office.
FEWER HARVARD MBAS WENT INTO HIGHLY LUCRATIVE PRIVATE EQUITY & VENTURE CAPITAL
Meantime, roughly 5% of the class took jobs in the non-profit sector, up from 3%. “They will definitely make their mark, but not win recognition for a high salary,” adds Fitzpatrick. “Beyond all this, the numbers of the class going into high-paying PE/VC firms are down–10% this year, down from 16% last year.” Add it all up and for the first time in history, Harvard grads made less than the MBAs at Wharton.
More telling than the salary numbers, however, are the latest placement stats. By and large, they confirm a strong and continuing recovery in the market for top-ranked MBA graduates. Some 23 of 26 reporting schools in Poets&Quants Top 30 report that more than nine out of every ten graduates had at least one job offer three months after graduation. The numbers are so impressive they very nearly put to rest the rather dismal statistics that came out of these same schools during the height of the Great Recession in 2009 and 2010.