The MBA Bump: How Much To Expect?

It’s called the MBA Bump: the increase in pay you can expect after you get the degree.

And for this year’s Class of 2012, the bump is bigger than it has been for many years. Graduates of full-time MBA programs are reporting average increases in their pre-MBA base salaries of 81% this year to a median of $90,000, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). That’s better than last year’s reported 73% bump and significantly better than the 63% increase reported for the Class of 2010 when the economy was in the tank.

Full-time, two-year MBA programs delivered the biggest increases. Graduates of part-time MBA programs, for example, reported a 53% rise in pre-MBA pay–28 percentage points lower than full-time MBAs (see table below).

The survey, released last week, found that MBA graduates with less than three years of work experience saw the largest bumps of any: a whopping 120%. That compares with 75% for graduates with three to six years of experience and 46% for grads with more than six years of work experience (see table on next page). The more years a person has been in the workforce also is more likely to mean that the graduate went for the degree part-time.

What’s more, the GMAC numbers are for MBA programs overall and not merely the top-ranked business schools whose graduates typically double their pre-MBA income. The study is based on 5,366 recent or soon-to-be graduates of business schools.

PERCENTAGE CHANGE IN ANNUAL BASE SALARY, BY SURVEY YEAR AND PROGRAM TYPE

Of course, these increases vary greatly by a number of factors, including industry, work experience, and gender. Interestingly enough, the MBAs who reported the largest bumps were those who were hired by companies after doing a summer internship with the same firm. “Participating in an internship while in school typically produces an additional 28 percent increase above the baseline salary increase a student receives who does not participate in an internship,” according to the GMAC study. “After graduation, the benefits of an internship are even greater. Those who participated in an internship and received an offer of employment from that internship more than doubled the salary increase received by graduates who continued working for the same employer during and after business school (see table below).”

PERCENTAGE INCREASE IN ANNUAL BASE SALARY, BY JOB STATUS