Stanford MBAs Snag Highest 2011 Salaries

MBA graduates from Stanford reported the highest median starting salaries this year at $125,000 a year, up 4.2% from $120,000 in 2010. MBAs from Harvard and Wharton were not far behind, garnering median starting salaries of $120,000 each, a healthy 9.1% increase from $110,000 a year earlier. MIT’s Sloanies were just a smidgeon below Harvard and Wharton at $119,000, up from $110,00 in 2010.

By and large, the news on the MBA pay front for the Class of 2011 is very good. Of 30 highly ranked business schools, 25 reported that starting pay for MBAs went up, often for the first time since the Great Recession kicked in during 2008. The six remaining schools–Virginia’s Darden, Yale, New York University’s Stern, Rice’s Jones School of Business, and UCLA’s Anderson School–reported no change from last year.

The upshot: Not a single school’s graduates sufferred a fall in median starting salaries. That’s quite a reversal from last year when ten of the top 30 schools reported declines in median starting salaries for their MBAs. The figures (see table below) do not include starting bonuses, guaranteed year-end bonuses, tuition reimbursement or other compensation many MBAs from the leading schools receive from their employers.

Some 19 of the 30 schools are now in six figures, up from 14 only last year. Ten schools reported median starting pay higher than $100,000, while nine of the 30 schools reported that the median starting salaries for their MBAs was exactly $100,000.

The average median starting salary for the Class of 2011 rose 4% to $101,010, up from $97,164 a year ago, according to data collected from 29 schools by Bloomberg Businessweek. The school’s reporting the largest percentage increases are Harvard and Wharton. What hasn’t returned are signing bonuses, reported BusinessWeek. Only eight schools reported increases in this area, while the vast majority said bonuses were flat and six schools reported declines.

School2011 Median Salary20102009
1. Stanford GSB$125,000$120,000$120,000
2. Harvard Business School$120,000$110,000$114,000
3. Pennsylvania (Wharton)$120,000$110,000$110,000
4. MIT (Sloan)$119,000$110,000$110,000
5. Berkeley (Haas)$111,000$110,000$110,000
6. Dartmouth (Tuck)$110,000$105,000$105,000
7, Columbia Business School$110,000$100,000$100,000
8. Northwestern (Kellogg)$110,000$105,000$105,000
9. Chicago (Booth)$107,000$102,000$100,000
10. Michigan (Ross)$103,000$100,000$100,000
11. Duke (Fuqua)$101,400$100,000$100,000
12. Virginia (Darden)$100,000$100,000$100,000
13. Emory (Goizueta)$100,000$90,000$91,000
14. Yale School of Management$100,000$100,000$96,000
15. New York (Stern)$100,000$100,000$95,000
16. Texas-Austin (McCombs)$100,000$95,000$95,000
17. UCLA (Anderson)$100,000$100,000$95,000
18. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)$100,000$95,000$100,000
19. Cornell (Johnson)$100,000$96,000$95,000
20. UNC (Kenan-Flagler)$100,000$95,000$95,000
21. USC (Marshall)$96,000$94,000$95,000
22. Minnesota (Carlson)$95,507$90,000NA
23. Indiana (Kelley)$95,000$89,144$92,000
24. Rice (Jones)$95,000$95,000NA
25. Notre Dame (Mendoza)$93,500$90,000$92,500
26. Brigham Young (Marriott)$92,000$88,550$90,000
27. Vanderbilt (Owen)$91,000$88,000$95,000
28. Washington (Olin)$90,000$85,000$90,000
29. Georgia Institute of Technology$90,000$85,000$85,000
30. Michigan State (Broad)$87,500$86,200NA
31. Texas A&M$85,000$85,000NA

Source: Schools reporting to BusinessWeek & individual school employment reports


  • How does location play into this? It would be good to see where the grads end up and their location is taking into consideration. According to, living in Silicon Valley is 55% higher than living in Austin which I’m assuming most Stanford MBAs stay in the bay area. $100K in Austin would require $157K in Silicon Valley to maintain similar standard of living. When you take cost of living into consideration, I bet some of the other MBA programs would beat the top MBA grads as take home pay would be considerably higher.

  • Furious Styles

    Interesting, thank you for the response

  • Ed,

    MIT has since provided the data and I’ve updated the table to include MIT which looks very good on this list.


  • Ed

    Wheres MIT on this list?

  • Recruiter


    The prior mil might have a tougher time making it through the process depending on his/her target market and prior roles, but assuming all six are given offers there is not likely to be fluctuation strictly based on the information you provided. Of course, if the Duke grad has a prior relationship with the firm, then they are well positioned to get a higher offer. Once again, it comes down to the individual. We know that the top schools all offer top-notch (if not equally rigorous) education, and we like to judge the value of an individual ourselves. The notion that we have a higher “Wharton salary” that we pay out to their grads is laughable.

    Once again, this is all assuming that the other major contributing factors that could influence a preliminary offer are held constant (e.g. Same practice, same office). I fear that John is brushing over this detail.


    If you have the data that you speak of, why not publish it to show which firms have a “Wharton salary” vs. A “Fuqua salary” and what that premium might be? If it actually exists, I’m sure your readers would find it interesting and useful.

  • Furious Styles,

    Yes, though it’s more likely that a Harvard, Stanford, or Tuck grad got more than a Michigan, Darden, or Carnegie Mellon grad at the same firm.

  • Jack

    @ Recruiter: I appreciate you contributing here….

    Here’s my scenario: 6 people (2 from Duke, 2 from Tuck, 2 from Wharton each pair consists of one prior military guy and one with industry experience) receive offers at both a Top-3 consulting firm and/or bank. Who makes more/less? e.g. Industry guy from Duke makes more than prior-mil Tuck but the Wharton guy wins overall regardless of pedigree…?

    What is the difference? What about, for example, an offer from a top-3 for NYC and Miami… what is the difference?

    I appreciate you chiming in here!

  • Furious Styles

    Question @ John:

    Is this what you are saying:

    Candidate from Stanford or HBS gets more money at BCG than the candidate from Yale who got the same job at BCG? I always thought consulting and banking offers where standard across the board regardless of school

  • Sandy


    How much of a value does an MBA add (except for top 3 schools on the list) if you are already making more than the median salary report here? In other words, how valuable is it to get an MBA only for the educational experience. I can understand that a top MBA can be a qualifying criteria to move up in the consulting/banking world. How about other industries?

  • Recruiter

    I’ll concede that Stanford is an exceptional (and small) market for well qualified talent where we often find ourselves compelled to pay premiums. Still, it’s hard to say the premium is for the school, but rather the talent and experience it attracts. 🙂

  • Thanks for weighing in. When I was at BusinessWeek and we surveyed graduates and asked for their compensation data, I was surprised to see that many firms–not all–paid a slight premium for certain brands, especially Harvard and Stanford.

  • Recruiter


    That’s a pretty deceiving response. You touched on experience but still gave much more credence to the school. In my experience in recruiting at the top schools, the candidate’s experience is the only thing we’re paying the premiums for. True, in some cases certain schools might have a better collection of the skill sets we’re looking for, but that fluctuates from year to year. We don’t dish out extra money to someone coming from a good school just because we liked the school’s candidates last year. They have to prove their additional worth on their own. Case and point, our hires from your top three here often arrive at our firm 2-3 pay increments below candidates from the other top schools. For the most part though, all of these fluctuations are merely noise and most candidates get our standard offer.

  • Jack,

    Generally not. Of course, a lot depends on the actual work experience someone is bringing to the party. And you’re right to note that geography, choice of industry and job are very big factors in these numbers. Even so, if you’re from little more than a handful of schools, you’ll likely to paid a bit more. Sometimes that will show up in salary. Sometimes that will show up in a signing bonus. Or both.

  • Jack

    I realize there are a lot of variables here (location, job type, industry, etc.). However, if someone in the Top 10/15 range picks up a job at say a BCG, GS or elsewhere, is he paid the same or near as someone from a Top 5?