Harvard | Mr. Software PE
GMAT 760, GPA 3.45
Kellogg | Mr. Social Impact Initiative
GMAT 710, GPA 3.1
Harvard | Mr. Policy Player
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4
Chicago Booth | Mr. Unilever To MBB
GRE 308, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Ms. Spaniard Consultant
GMAT 710, GPA 8.5/10.00
Rice Jones | Mr. Carbon-Free Future
GMAT 710, GPA 4.0
London Business School | Ms. Private Equity Angel
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
Harvard | Mr. Navy Nuke
GMAT 710, GPA 3.66
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Salesman
GMAT 700, GPA 3.0
NYU Stern | Ms. Entertainment Strategist
GMAT Have not taken, GPA 2.92
Wharton | Mr. Future Non-Profit
GMAT 720, GPA 8/10
Chicago Booth | Ms. Indian Banker
GMAT 740, GPA 9.18/10
London Business School | Mr. FANG Strategy
GMAT 740, GPA 2.9
NYU Stern | Mr. Army Prop Trader
GRE 313, GPA 2.31
Cornell Johnson | Mr. Indian Dreamer
GRE 331, GPA 8.5/10
Wharton | Mr. Hopeful Fund Manager
GMAT 770, GPA 8.52/10
MIT Sloan | Mr. Healthtech Consultant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.44
London Business School | Mr. LGBT Pivot
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Kellogg | Mr. Defense Engineer
GMAT 760, GPA 3.15
Harvard | Mr. CPPIB Strategy
GRE 329 (Q169 V160), GPA 3.6
Rice Jones | Mr. Student Government
GMAT 34 (ACT for Early Admit Program), GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. Healthcare PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.8
Kellogg | Ms. Sustainable Development
GRE N/A, GPA 3.4
Stanford GSB | Mr. Army Engineer
GRE 326, GPA 3.89
Kellogg | Ms. Big4 M&A
GMAT 740, GPA 3.7
MIT Sloan | Ms. Rocket Engineer
GMAT 710, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. African Energy
GMAT 750, GPA 3.4

Harvard Starting Salaries Fall By $5,000

moneymanThe median base salary for a Harvard Business School MBA this year fell by $5,000 to $120,000—reversing a $5,000 increase from last year’s preliminary data. The drop can largely be attributed to the fact that significantly fewer Harvard MBAs ventured into the financial sector this year, instead preferring such industries as technology, consumer products, and non-profits.

Three of every four HBS grads reported getting median signing bonuses of $25,000, and one in five said they received median “other guaranteed compensation” of $35,000. Harvard MBAs lucky enough to collect all three landed first-year median pay of $180,000—a nearly $10,000 increase over 2012.

Yet, even that sum could be highly conservative because Harvard’s numbers—released last week on its website—fails to include such things as performance bonuses, reimbursements, profit sharing, 401K matching programs, restricted stock or stock options.


The preliminary employment stats for the Class of 2013 show that the highest paying salaries went to graduates who ventured into the private equity and leveraged buyout industries. MBAs who gained jobs in those two fields reported median starting salary of $150,000, with nearly half earning a $26,000 signing bonus. Yet, the big bonanza was “other guaranteed compensation” in those fields, with 45% reporting it was a median $135,000. Roughly 9% of Harvard’s Class of 2013 went to work in either a private equity or leveraged buyout firm.

The second most lucrative field was hedge funds, which attracted 5% of the class. Hedge funds paid HBS grads median starting pay of $138,000, with 56% getting median signing bonuses of $30,000 and nearly half of them landing “other guaranteed compensation” of $72,500.

The largest chunk of the class, 27%, went into financial services, which includes PE and hedge funds. Consulting firms nabbed 24% of the class. The median starting salary in consulting was $135,000, with 93% reporting median signing bonuses of $25,000 and 14% getting “other guaranteed comp” of $28,200.


However, the two mainstream industries for MBA hiring got fewer Harvard grads this year. Consulting fell to 24% from 25% last year, while financial services fell to 27% from 35% last year based on the preliminary numbers. The biggest drops in the financial sector occurred in the PE/LBO industries which were down to 9% from 15% a year earlier—in all probability that alone caused the $5,000 drop in overall median starting salary. HBS grads going into investment banking also declined to 5% of the class from 7% last year.

Other industries gladly took up the slack. Some 18% of this year’s class went into the technology industry, up from just 12% in 2012, while 7% went into the consumer products industry, up from a mere 3% last year, and 5% took jobs in the non-profit or government sectors, up from 3% in 2012. Those industries tend to pay less than either consulting or financial services. The median starting salary in the technology sector, for example, was $115,000–$10,000 less than financial services and $20,000 less than consulting. The median base salary in consumer products was $100,000–$25,000 below financial services and $35,000 below consulting.

Harvard Business School does not report the full range of salaries reported by its MBAs nor does it report which companies hired its graduates. Instead, the school reports the 25th percentile salary as well as the 75th percentile salary along with the median. The highest 75th percentile base reported this year was $177,500 for a private equity or LBO job. If that person received the median sign-on bonus and guaranteed comp package, he or she would be making $338,500 in the first year of work.


Harvard is among the first business schools in the U.S. to report the employment statistics for its Class of 2012, which graduated in late May.  Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business reported its numbers last week. HBS said its self-reported student numbers are based on a sample of the class at graduation and “is subject to change until finalized in the fall.” Last year, in fact, the median starting salary reported in the preliminary release was $5,000 more at $125,000 than the final number, which was $120,000. The data for other business schools tends to trickle out after September.

Interestingly enough, the highest median starting salaries were reported by Harvard MBAs who relocated to the south. The 5% of the class who took jobs with companies in the south reported median base pay of $135,000. The only other geography in the world that was close was China where median salary was reported at $134,000, with 100% of the MBAs going to China earning sign-on bonuses of $25,000.

The school failed to breakout numbers for India. Overall, MBAs who gained jobs with companies in Asia reported median starting salary of $118,500, with 80% landing sign-on bonuses of $22,500 and 47% reporting other guaranteed comp of $25,000.


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.