Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Columbia | Mr. Energy Italian
GMAT 700, GPA 3.5
UCLA Anderson | Mr. SME Consulting
GMAT 740, GPA 3.55 (as per WES paid service)
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Quality Assurance
GMAT 770, GPA 3.6
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
INSEAD | Mr. INSEAD Aspirant
GRE 322, GPA 3.5
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Army Aviator
GRE 314, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Mr. Renewables Athlete
GMAT 710 (1st take), GPA 3.63
Harvard | Mr. Healthcare PE
GRE 340, GPA 3.5
Harvard | Mr. Military Quant
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Kellogg | Mr. Concrete Angel
GRE 318, GPA 3.33
Kellogg | Mr. Maximum Impact
GMAT Waiver, GPA 3.77
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Wharton | Ms. Interstellar Thinker
GMAT 740, GPA 7.6/10
Harvard | Mr. Finance
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0
Harvard | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 730, GPA 3.6
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Female Sales Leader
GMAT 740 (target), GPA 3.45
Tuck | Mr. Liberal Arts Military
GMAT 680, GPA 2.9
Harvard | Ms. Gay Techie
GRE 332, GPA 3.88
INSEAD | Mr. Product Manager
GMAT 740, GPA 63%

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.

BusinessSchoolAverage SalaryThree Years OutIncrease OverPre-MBA Salary
1.  Stanford$169,989110%
2.  Columbia$164,108121%
3.  Penn (Wharton)$163,561111%
4.  Harvard$161,336109%
5.  Chicago (Booth)$156,721116%
6.  Dartmouth (Tuck)$154,607112%
7.  MIT (Sloan)$154,300120%
8.  Yale$141,606131%
9.  London$141,606124%
10. INSEAD$140,497102%
11. Indian School of Business$140,202166%
12. California-Berkeley (Haas)$140,132166%
13. Northwestern (Kellogg)$139,310100%
14. IMD$139,20486%
15. Oxford (Said)$138,818108%
16. New York (Stern)$138,212121%
17. UCLA (Anderson)$138,103105%
18. IE Business School$134,392159%
19. Cape Town$133,35266%
20. Virginia (Darden)$132,623112%
21. Cranford$131,95489%
22. Cornell (Johnson)$130,954101%
23. IESE$129,734136%
24. Duke (Fuqua)$129,065101%
25. Cambridge (Judge)$128,714110%
26. Carnegie-Mellon (Tepper)$126,478102%
27. Michigan (Ross)$124,69796%
28. Australian School of Biz$122,89087%
29. ESADE-Spain$122,050126%
30. Emory (Goizueta)$121,973119%
31. HEC-France$121,944104%
32. City University (Cass)$120,63283%
33. Georgetown (McDonough)$120,574110%
34. Imperial College$120,306107%
35. Ceibs-China$119,309133%
36. Boston College (Carroll)$118,35296%
37. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)$116,09694%
38. USC (Marshall)$115,84091%
39. Texas-Austin (McCombs)$115,75090%
40. Hong Kong UST$115,535131%
41. Rice (Jones)$114,070105%
42. Macquarie Graduate School$113,79658%
43. Rotterdam (Erasmus)$113,640102%
44. Rochester (Simon)$113,480110%
45. Vanderbilt (Owen)$113,407103%
46. Lancaster$112,214131%
47. U.C.-Davis$112,12580%
48. Warwick$110,70086%
49. Manchester$110,59591%
50. Nanyang Business Sxhool$110,567109%


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

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.