Six-Figure Havens for Global MBAs

Whose MBA grads are making the most dough? While there are a lot of factors that go into this, including the location of the school and the percentage of graduates entering the highest paid industries such as consulting and investment banking, these numbers are a good overall indication of quality. For one thing, how much money a grad three years out of school is making is a reflection of the quality of MBA candidates admitted to the school. Secondly, it’s a very good indicator of how well those MBAs are performing in their jobs.

On the other hand, these numbers also reflect both the pay and experience of students coming into these programs as well as the professions they tend to join once they have their MBAs. The fact that large numbers of MBAs from Harvard and Stanford head for high-paying jobs in consulting and finance helps their graduates get to the top of the list. A much higher percentage of Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management graduates go into consumer packaging goods companies in brand management positions that don’t pay the kind of salaries MBAs routinely get in consulting firms and investment banks. Similarly, a lot of the business schools of public universities in the U.S. are farther down the ranks, in part because more of their MBAs end up in public accounting firms which don’t pay nearly as much as the big prestige consultants such as McKinsey, BCG, or Bain.

Among the surprises in this data set is the large number of non-U.S. schools, which have grads earning very good rates of pay. London Business School MBAs are averaging $141,606 three years out, higher than grads at Berkeley or Northwestern. Both London and INSEAD are in the top ten, respectively at nine and ten. Another shocker is that Harvard grads are earnings less than MBAs from Columbia and Wharton three years after graduation. Somewhat surprising is that graduates of Yale University’s School of Management, which rarely makes it into top 20 rankings of the best business schools, are in the top ten on salary.

One of the quirkiest findings is that the University of Cape Town’s business school grads are in the top 20 at exactly the last spot. Of any top 50 school on this ranking with the exception of one in Australia, Cape Town did deliver one of the smallest increases in salary from pre-MBA pay to three years after graduation: just 66%. Even so, Cape Town’s overall showing makes us a wee bit skeptical of some of the data, collected by accounting firm KPMG on behalf of the Financial Times. It’s worth pointing out the school that gave graduates the highest percentage increase over their pre-MBA salaries: MBAs with degrees from the Indian School of Business saw their salaries jump by a whopping 166% within three years of commencement. There could be some statistical anomalies in the data based on the number of responses from the alumni base of each of these schools.

We’re ranking the top 50 schools based on the current salary—not including bonuses and the value of other perks—of grads from the class of 2006, just before the recession really took hold.

BusinessSchool Average SalaryThree Years Out Increase OverPre-MBA Salary
1.  Stanford $169,989 110%
2.  Columbia $164,108 121%
3.  Penn (Wharton) $163,561 111%
4.  Harvard $161,336 109%
5.  Chicago (Booth) $156,721 116%
6.  Dartmouth (Tuck) $154,607 112%
7.  MIT (Sloan) $154,300 120%
8.  Yale $141,606 131%
9.  London $141,606 124%
10. INSEAD $140,497 102%
11. Indian School of Business $140,202 166%
12. California-Berkeley (Haas) $140,132 166%
13. Northwestern (Kellogg) $139,310 100%
14. IMD $139,204 86%
15. Oxford (Said) $138,818 108%
16. New York (Stern) $138,212 121%
17. UCLA (Anderson) $138,103 105%
18. IE Business School $134,392 159%
19. Cape Town $133,352 66%
20. Virginia (Darden) $132,623 112%
21. Cranford $131,954 89%
22. Cornell (Johnson) $130,954 101%
23. IESE $129,734 136%
24. Duke (Fuqua) $129,065 101%
25. Cambridge (Judge) $128,714 110%
26. Carnegie-Mellon (Tepper) $126,478 102%
27. Michigan (Ross) $124,697 96%
28. Australian School of Biz $122,890 87%
29. ESADE-Spain $122,050 126%
30. Emory (Goizueta) $121,973 119%
31. HEC-France $121,944 104%
32. City University (Cass) $120,632 83%
33. Georgetown (McDonough) $120,574 110%
34. Imperial College $120,306 107%
35. Ceibs-China $119,309 133%
36. Boston College (Carroll) $118,352 96%
37. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) $116,096 94%
38. USC (Marshall) $115,840 91%
39. Texas-Austin (McCombs) $115,750 90%
40. Hong Kong UST $115,535 131%
41. Rice (Jones) $114,070 105%
42. Macquarie Graduate School $113,796 58%
43. Rotterdam (Erasmus) $113,640 102%
44. Rochester (Simon) $113,480 110%
45. Vanderbilt (Owen) $113,407 103%
46. Lancaster $112,214 131%
47. U.C.-Davis $112,125 80%
48. Warwick $110,700 86%
49. Manchester $110,595 91%
50. Nanyang Business Sxhool $110,567 109%


Financial Times, survey of average alumni salary three years after graduation. Data collected for the Class of 2006.