Tuck MBA Reports $863K Pay Package

A Dartmouth College Tuck MBA landed a private equity job with a total compensation package last year of $863,000, according to the school’s recently published employment statistics.

While the Tuck MBA didn’t top the highest starting salary reported for a graduating MBA last year—a whopping $552,681-a-year job captured by an MBA from the London Business School—the Tuckie easily captured the highest total compensation package. The Tuck takeaway beats out a Stanford MBA in the Class of 2011 who gained a job with a total comp package estimated at $675,000, including a half-million-dollar guaranteed bonus from a hedge fund.

Jonathan Masland, director of career development, said the big number was a new record for Tuck and captured by a Tuck grad who did an independent job search. “That is the largest number I’ve seen,” he said. “In private equity, there is a performance structure that can be a lot. A really top MBA based on professional background would participate in the carried interest which can be substantial. That is part of typical private equity compensation.”

Unlike other MBA professions where there are a large number of hires at fairly standard pay levels, private equity firms and hedge funds tend to hire only one or two grads and structure compensation offers on a more individualized basis. “When it is a one-off job and maybe it’s someone you know very well, the likelihood that the numbers would be much higher is greater,” explained Penny Paquette, Tuck’s assistant dean for strategic initiatives. “There aren’t that many people in most private equity firms.”


The school reported some monster numbers for its graduating class last year. The median total pay package for a graduate was $169,000, while the mean was $180,000. Those sums include annual base salary, signing and performance bonuses, relocation expenses, tuition reimbursement, and “other compensation.”

“In general, we’re seeing more high quality MBA jobs,” added Masland. “And we’re continuing to see the same trend for the ’12 class. We’re  a nudge above where we were last year in terms of the percentage of students who already have job offers.

“The two things that struck me with our ’11 class is 1) the fact that consulting has returned to pre-recession levels. About a third of the class joined this profession out of school. The other thing was the compensation bump of about 7% for both base and overall. I think they are kind of related. Maybe things are a little better in the economy than what the news has presented.”

Often times, it’s a minority of graduating MBAs who land signing bonuses and performance bonuses. But Tuck reported that 86% of the Class of 2011 were given signing bonuses by their employers, while 91% reported receiving performance bonuses. The median signing bonus was $25,000, the same amount as the median performance bonus.

Private equity and venture capital paid the highest median salaries to the class: $135,000, though the range varied between a low of $110,000 and a $315,000 maximum to a Tuck grad other than the one who landed the huge compensation package. About 5% of the class went into PE and VC last year–still off from the peak years in 2006-2007 when nearly 10% of the Tuck class went into those fields, including hedge funds. “It dropped to two or three percent but it is now rebounding,” said Masland. “Most of it is in private equity and buyouts, not venture capital.”

After PE, consulting paid the next highest salaries: a median of $125,000, with the lowest reported salary at $85,000 and the high at $145,000, according to the school (see table on following page).

Not all business schools report total compensation numbers, but Tuck believes it’s worthwhile to get that information into the marketplace. “We really think it is something that is relevant to people and it is good data so we report it,” said Paquette.  “For us, one of the reasons we wanted to put it out there is that Tuck grads do go into private equity and some people don’t know that. “So we wanted to get that out there.”

Tuck, for example, boasts a Center for Private Equity and Entrepreneurship and recently added a new hedge fund course to its elective curriculum.


HIghest Reported 2011 Base Salaries School Job Location
$552,681 London Corporate Australia
$375,000 Wharton Unknown Unknown
$315,000 Dartmouth (Tuck) Private Equity Boston
$300,000 Stanford General Management U.S.
$300,000 Chicago (Booth) Private Equity NA
$300,000 Columbia Hedge Fund New York
$250,000 Kellogg Private Equity NA
$250,000 Duke (Fuqua) Investment Banking Northeast
$215,000 Yale Manufacturing Northeast
$200,000* Harvard Unknown New England
$166,800 MIT (Sloan) Consulting Europe
$160,000 Virginia (Darden) Law Mid-Atlantic

SOURCE: Business school employment reports. An asterisk for Harvard indicates that the school only releases compensation figures at the 75th

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