Stanford Alums Make The Most Dough

Or consider the MBA alumni from Oxford, the closest counterpart fo Cambridge. Cambridge Judge alumni reported average salary increases that were unexplainably seven times the size of those for Oxford Said’s alumni. Again, Cambridge’s average salary jumped 10.4% versus Oxford’s 1.5% gain in the past year, even those their graduates landed similar jobs in similar geographic locales.

ESADE alumni, meantime, reported salary increases of 10.9% this past year, compared to a measly 0.2% gain for alumni of IE Business School. The upshot: ESADE alumni reported percentage increases that were 545 times than those achieved by alumni at IE Business in the same country.


There’s another American saying that comes to mind here: “Something is rotten in Denmark”. In this case, something smells fishy in Britain and Spain–largely the accuracy of The Financial Times data for schools in those countries, among others.

There are a lot of reasons why this could occurr, ranging from the size of the sample of responding alumni to the natural proclivity for only successful alums to respond to a survey. One European dean suggests that it is even possible for a school to insure that only its more successful alumni are surveyed. Afterall, dissatisfed alums who are not doing all that well in the job market are far less likely to stay connected to their alma maters.

Indeed, Conrad Chua, head of Cambridge MBA admissions and marketing, was as perplexed as we were about the alumni salary increase. “I’d be hard-pressed to explain to you what did we, the school, do to cause the large increase in alumni-weighted salary this year,” he wrote in his admissions blog. “Some of this increase could be due to the way the FT calculates the weighted salary because the FT uses a weighted average of salary data over three years (50% of the current year, 25% each in the two previous years). So part of the rise could be because we had a lower weighted salary three years ago and that has now dropped out of the calculations. But I am still none the wiser what caused the differences. As far as we know, there was nothing radically different between the classes. In the same way, we didn’t think there was anything significantly different in the classes who were surveyed when we dropped in the rankings.”

All this confirms what we have said over and over again about any one ranking and any one data point. Don’t put too much credibility in any single ranking or any single metric used in the methodology because it could easily be Garbage In, Garbage Out.



SchoolAverage Alumni Salary% Change Over 20122012 Salary% Change Over 20082008 Salary
  1. Stanford GSB$195,5532.0%$191,65711.3%$175.766
  2. Harvard$187,4325.4%$177,87614.6%$163,493
  3. Wharton$186,2105.6%$176,29912.2%$166,032
  4. Columbia$179,5684.6%$171,6475.8%$169.730
  5. IIM-Ahmedabad$171,188-2.2%$175,076——NA
  6. Chicago$164,6786.6%$154,4495.9%$155,484
  7. London$162,5705.0%$154,78311.4%$145,918
  8. MIT Sloan$160,8101.7%$158,0833.5%$155,316
  9. Kellogg$160,74610.0%$146,13617.6%$136.674
10. Yale$159,64711.3%$143,40213.6%$140,576
11. Dartmouth$159,6474.2%$153,2524.6%$152,580
12. INSEAD$154,7987.2%$144,4224.8%$147,763
13. IE$152,4710.2%$152,12726.9%$120,190
14. UC-Berkeley$152,1575.7%$143,93515.5%$131,688
15. Cornell$150,7224.6%$144,02518.8%$126,829
16. UCLA$147,7409.4%$135,023-0.6%$148,615
17. IESE$147,4959.0%$135,30223.0%$119,890
18. New York$146,6908.5%$135,2343.6%$141,554
19. Cambridge$145,94810.4%$132,1699.3%$133,480
20. Duke$144,2274.5%$138,02017.4%$122,811
21. Virginia$143,9585.6%$136,328-2.2%$147,172
22. IMD$143,0492.4%$139,644-2.8%$147,172
23. Michigan$141,3459.9%$128,58912.3%$125,839
24. Cape Town$137,361-2.9%$141,490-7.8%$148,975
25. Oxford$136,8881.5%$134,891-3.0%$141,170

Source: The Financial Times

Notes: Average alumni salary for a school’s MBAs three years after graduation and culled from Financial Time surveys to alumni with the school’s assistance

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.