Highest Columbia MBA Salary: $310K In PE

pretty woman throwing moneyThis year’s highest paid MBA at Columbia Business School landed a $310,000 base salary at a private equity firm, significantly exceeding the $240,000 peak pay last year also in private equity. A PE firm also paid the highest bonus to a Columbia graduate this year: a hefty $300,000.

All told, Columbia’s Class of 2013 seemed to do quite well in the MBA pay sweepstakes. The school reported that the highest starting salary in manufacturing was $230,000, the highest in internet services was $240,000, and the highest in investment management was $225,000.

Six-figure bonuses were paid in a surprisingly large number of industries to some of the higher paid members of the class, ranging from consumer products to real estate. The higher-end bonuses reported by Columbia MBAs were $145,000 in management consulting, $135,000 in investment banking, $200,000 in hedge funds, $167,500 in investment management, $170,000 in consumer products manufacturing, $118,000 in internet services and e-commerce, and $100,000 in real estate.


The numbers are in the school’s recently released 2013 employment report which also shows a fairly big shift away from finance for Columbia. This year the school sent 37.9% of its class into financial services, down from 41.8% last year. In 2007—the year before Wall Street’s collapse in the Great Recession—Columbia sent 56% of its MBA graduates into finance.

In fact, just about every category of finance was affected this year. The percentage of MBAs going into investment banking and brokerage fell to 18.6% from 21.0% in 2012, while the percentage of grads landing jobs in diversified financial services was down to 2.7% from 3.3%. Even the number of MBAs going into the highly lucrative private equity sector shrank, to 3.2% of the class from 4.3% last year.

Surprisingly, consulting also was down. Columbia said 29.7% of this year’s grads ventured into the consulting industry, down from 32.6% in 2012. Taking up the slack was media and technology which employed 13.2% of this year’s MBAs at Columbia, up from 8.3% last year.

Despite the continuing shift away from finance, the median base salary for the class this year was exactly the same as last year: $110,000, with a median signing bonus of $30,000, and median other guaranteed compensation of $20,000. Some 85% of the class had job offers at graduation, while 97% had received offers three months later, compared to 96% last year.


The numbers released by Columbia were published in a spreadsheet the school made public on its website. The school typically puts out a final employment report with more detailed information, including which companies hired the most graduates, later this month. Columbia said that 18 students started their own businesses and were excluded from the overall numbers, while 86 graduates this year were sponsored by their employers.

Even with the often high rates of pay in the PE sector, the most highly paid positions right out of school at Columbia were in management consulting where the median base pay was $135,000–exactly the same median as other top schools are reporting–and ranged from a low of $90,000 to a high of $200,000. The median bonus paid in consulting was pegged at $25,000.

PE came in second with median base pay of $132,500, with a low of $67,000 and the class high base salary of $310,000. Median bonuses in private equity were $30,000. MBA jobs managing money in hedge funds, mutual funds and fund of funds—a catchall category in investment management for Columbia—racked in median base salaries of $125,000, ranging from a low of $75,000 to a high of $175,000, with a median bonus of $55,000, the highest of any sector.

The lowest starting salary received by a Columbia MBA this year was just $44,000–for a job in the education/government/non-profit sectors.

(See following page for a table on the highest and lowest paying jobs at Columbia this year)