Why IMD Is Reporting Three-Year Pay Stats

IMD is ranked third among the top 50 business schools outside the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

IMD in Lausanne, Switzerland

It’s standard practice for a business school to annually report the pay and placement numbers for every graduating class. Those stats are scrutinized by thousands of applicants, students, and alumni as a way to see how a school is faring in the marketplace.

So it may come as something of a surprise that IMD, the prestigious European business school in Lausanne, Switzerland, has decided to abandon the practice of annual employment reports and instead provide that basic information in three-year increments. The change occurred with the Class of 2013 stats after a year in which median salaries for the class plummeted 15.4% to $119,049 in 2012 from $140,648, a drop in U.S. dollars of a whopping $21,599. In dollar terms, the average salary decline was less severe: a 7.6% drop to $131,566 from $142,412.


The primary reason for the decrease in the pay of IMD’s graduates? Currency rates. In Euros, the average salary remained essentially flat, a tiny 1.2% fall to €102,104 from €103,355. Still, reporting significant declines in salary for a business school is not a pleasant event, whether in dollars or Euros. There also was the less-than-positive news that the number of recruiting companies at IMD made fewer offers to graduates, falling to 78 in 2012 from 93 in 2011. Among major MBA recruiters not making offers that year were Adidas, Deloitte, KPMG, PricewaterhouseCoopers, and Procter & Gamble. KPMG.

So this past year, hoping to avoid an over-interpretation of such annual results, IMD decided to report three-year averages instead. “The reason for the changes has a lot to do with our size, international focus (45 nationalities) and the fluctuations in the financial markets,” explains Matthew Mortellaro, a spokesperson for the school which is ranked the third best non-U.S. business school in the world by Poets&Quants.

With a small class of 90, there can be variation from year to year related to exchange rates, industry choice and companies recruiting,” he added. “The 3-year average provides a better overview for what candidates might expect if they would join IMD, especially considering that they may range in the time they apply from immediately to 2-3 years out.”


The result: IMD says that its MBA graduates landed average salaries of $131,800 in the past three years, just a tad better than the $131,566 a year earlier. Median salary over the three-year timeframe were $125,900, much better than the $119,049 reported for last year. The average sign-on bonus for IMD grads, received by six out of ten MBAs, was $25,600. That is down considerably from the 2012 reported number: $32,849.

In Euros, the three-year numbers don’t compare all that favorably with last year’s stats. IMD says the average salary in Euros over three years was €99,400—down from last year’s reported €102,104 or the previous year’s $103,355. The three-year median was even less: €94,500, a reflection no doubt of Europe’s more uncertain economy.

Those numbers won’t encourage many applicants or students who are paying a fairly pricey $91,334 for IMD’s one-year MBA program. Add in the estimated housing and living costs suggested by IMD and the total cost for the program runs to $130,000, not including the opportunity cost of leaving your job for a year.

The three-year look also demonstrates how heavily IMD relies on industry for its placements. Three out of every four graduates of the MBA program go into industry. Just 20% enter consulting and only 5% went into financial services, the two industries that tend to recruit the most MBA students and offer the highest compensation packages. In 2012, MBAs at IMD heading into consulting and financial services had fallen to 16% and 3%, respectively.

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