When you look at the starting salaries for Santa Clara University’s Class of 2011 last year, you have to be impressed. Graduates with their freshly minted MBA degrees pulled down an average $97,625 in salary and bonus last year.
Pretty good for a tier-two business school, right? Except that at graduation nearly eight of every ten graduates of its full-time MBA program were unemployed.
In fact, of all the business schools ranked by U.S. News & Report last week, Santa Clara’s Leavey School of Business had the dubious distinction of reporting more unemployed MBA grads than any other ranked school, a placement record that effectively gave its graduates a 78.8% unemployment rate at commencement.
Three months after graduation, some 53.8% of the class remained unemployed, according to the school’s reported numbers to U.S. News.
Leavey Dean Drew Starbird says the numbers reported by U.S. News are somewhat misleading because Leavey is largely a school filled with part-time MBAs. The school currently has about 1,000 part-timers and only 150 full-time students. “The U.S. News data only represents the full-time students and that’s a small sample size,” he says. “So it’s a little bit misleading.”
A SCHOOL IN THE HEART OF SILICON VALLEY HAS THE WORST MBA PLACEMENT RECORD
What’s even more shocking about these mediocre placement numbers is that they occurred at a school located in the heart of Silicon Valley, where the unemployment rate is well-below the national average. Or as Santa Clara’s own website puts it, “one of the most dynamic business environments in the world.”
Says Dean Starbird: “The job market is quite good. We’ve had a dramatic increase in the number of companies recruiting on campus. The unemployment rate in Silicon Valley is low for technology jobs. It’s quite a bit better than it was last year and significantly better than two years ago.”
But the official stats the school gave to U.S. News doesn’t reflect that improvement at all. While most business schools reported improved placement numbers for their MBAs last year, things at Leavey got even worse. The “unemployment rate” for Leavey’s MBAs jumped 30 percentage points last year from 48.8% at graduation in 2010.
SOME 21 BUSINESS SCHOOLS REPORTED THAT HALF THEIR MBAS GRADUATED WITHOUT A JOB LAST YEAR
Almost everyone who goes to a business school for an MBA does so to get a better job, at higher pay, with more advancement opportunity. Yet an analysis by Poets&Quants shows that some 21 business schools ranked among the very best in the country by U.S. News reported that at least half or more of their MBA graduates were without jobs at commencement last year. And at 11 of those institutions, roughly a third or more of the MBAs were still unemployed three months after graduation.
Those are numbers you might expect in the midst of the Great Recession, but are shockingly surprising given the economy’s recovery and the turnaround at many business school campuses. Although unemployment has remained stubbornly high, most MBAs have done quite well, thank you. But not at these 21 schools among 102 ranked in the latest U.S. News survey.
FOUR OF THE RANKED SCHOOLS WITH THE WORST PLACEMENT RECORDS ARE IN CALIFORNIA
Four of the ranked schools with the worst placement records are in California. Besides Santa Clara, there’s Claremont Graduate University’s Drucker School of Management, UC-Riverside’s Anderson School of Business, and Pepperdine University’s Graziadio School of Business, where roughly 70% of the graduating MBAs were without jobs at graduation.
Also high on the list are two schools in New York: Fordham University’s business school, where 63% of the MBAs were unemployed at commencement last year, and Baruch College’s Zicklin School of Business, where 61% of the Class of 2011 were without jobs at graduation.
How do these schools compare with the overall market? Not very well. U.S. News’ analysis of the job placement data handed over by 135 business schools showed that 78.8% of 2011 graduates were hired within three months of graduation—an effective unemployment rate of 21.2%. Not great, but not nearly as bad as these 21 schools. Moreover, the overall trend lines have been extremely positive. The 2011 numbers show a 4.1% growth in MBA hiring from 2010 and an 11.3% increase from 2009, according to U.S. News.
(See table of top-ranked business schools with the worst placement records on the following page)