Opening Up The Kimono On MBA Stats


Tis’ the season when business schools begin to dribble out the employment reports for the MBA classes they graduated this year. How much graduates earn and how many receive job offers once they get the degree are among the most heavily scrutinized data a business school can provide.

And yet, despite rigorous standards for reporting career metrics, what gets disclosed varies greatly from school to school. If you want to see the report of a business school that gets this right, look no further than Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management.

In common with most highly ranked MBA programs, Owen has a very good story to tell about the Class of 2014. Average starting salaries of $100,513 and and sign-on bonuses of $20,138 edged slightly higher than last year to record levels. Some 94% of the MBAs had job offers three months after graduation, not all that much different from the 96% record last year. Consulting hires now account for 23% of the class, up from 12% in 2010, while technology is now the industry career choice for 18% of graduates, up from only 7% four years ago.


More importantly, since 2010 as the Great Recession began to fade, the success of the school on several key performance metrics has been nothing less than transformational. A little-known statistic tracked by career directors is the “conversion rate,” the percentage of students who are able to convert their summer internships into full-time job offers. In 2010, Owen’s conversion rate was slightly under 30%. This past year it had advanced to 53%, according to the school’s 2014 employment report.

In 2010, only two companies hired at least three Owen students. This year, eight companies made accepted offers to at three or more students: Amazon, which was Owen’s top employer, hiring a dozen MBAs this year; Deloitte, which brought aboard eight grads; North Highland (5); Arryve Consulting (4); Mattel (4); Cardinal Health (3); DaVita (3), and Exxon Mobil (3). Those companies alone account for nearly 25% of this year’s accepted full-time offers.

The school also has markedly improved its stats for international students whose salaries and job offers tend to lag U.S. graduates. In 2010, just 70% of foreign nationals received and accepted at least one offer three months after commencement. This year’s number is an impressive 92%, even a wee bit better than the 91% rate for domestic graduates.

And the percentage of offers attributed to Owen’s career management center, including such things as job postings, resume drops and job fairs, totaled 79% this past year, up significantly from the 51% that came from the school four years ago.


But what is most impressive about all this is not the improvements—it’s the fact that Owen is regularly putting this kind of highly detailed information into the marketplace. True, the school only has to keep track of 175 graduating MBAs. Still, unlike many business schools that selectively disclose their career stats, Owen opens up its kimono with one of the most candid and transparent employment reports available.

“It sounds corny but we just take it as another attempt for us to be focused on our customers, the students and the companies we deal with,” explains Read McNamara, managing director of Owen’s Career Management Center and corporate affairs. “We want them to have all the data they need, good or bad. And I have to tell you that there were some pretty painful numbers in 2010.”

McNamara credits the thoroughness of Owen’s report to Emily Anderson, who has been highly active on the standards committee for the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance. “When she became chair of the committee, she took it upon herself to lead by example,” says McNamara. “She has been trying to spread the gospel of being transparent.” As director operations and coaching at Owen, Anderson is the person responsible for generating the data and the report.


What distinguishes Owen’s disclosure? The school routinely provides:

  • Provides both median and average salaries, sign-on bonuses and other guaranteed year-end compensation—for the entire class as well as every industry and function entered by its MBAs.
  • Breakdown all the compensation, job offer and job acceptance data by U.S. students and international students.
  • Reports high and low salaries, bonuses and other guaranteed compensation for the entire class, for every industry and function, geography, and for U.S. citizens and foreign nationals.
  • Lists the top employers and the number of hires they make in a year.
  • Reveals the “conversion rate” of summer internships into full-time jobs.
  • Publishes its detailed report promptly, more quickly than most other business schools.
  • Thoughtful commentary from the top official in career services on the year’s results.

There are a few other schools that do an exceptional job with employment reports, consistently publishing highly transparent stats, including the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business. But in general, most schools pick and choose the data they want to present, often making comparisons among schools difficult, if not impossible, and adding to the “noise” in MBA recruiting and admissions.

Salary & Bonus for Owen’s Class of 2014



BASE SALARY Average Median Low High
U.S./Permanent Residents $100,463 $100,000 $56,000 $135,000
Foreign Nationals $100,806 $106,250 $53,000 $130,000
Total $100,513 $100,000 $53,000 $135,000
U.S./Permanent Residents $19,334 $15,000 $2,000 $50,000
Foreign Nationals $25,909 $25,000 $10,000 $40,000
Total $20,138 $15,000 $2,000 $50,000
U.S./Permanent Residents $14,595 $12,000 $3,600 $31,200
Foreign Nationals ID ID ID ID
Total $14,374 $12,000 $3,600 $31,200

Source: Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business 2014 employment report

Note: ID means insufficient data

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