Highest & Lowest Paid MBAs of 2014

MBA employers


Unlike most business schools, Harvard Business School won’t even reveal the high and low numbers for its graduates, preferring to provide only 25th percentile and 75th percentile numbers. For the Class of 2014, both private equity and venture capital industries posted $175,000 base salaries at the 75th percentile. So clearly, there were HBS graduates who easily won $200,000 starting pay. The “median” guaranteed other compensation for the 13% of the class that went into private equity and leveraged buyouts was a whopping $80,000. Throw in the median sign-on bonus of $25,000 and you’re looking at first-year total pay packages for some that easily topped $300,000. The lowest base among the 25th percentile numbers at Harvard this year is not so low at all: $90,000, for went to work for a non-profit organization.

At Kellogg, the highest paid MBA of 2014—earning a $240,000 base salary—went into a surprising job in consumer products with a food and beverage company. Another lucky Kellogg grad, landing a $225,000 base, took a position in investment management. Another surprise: The highest paid sign-on bonus of $65,000 was paid to an MBA who went to a tech firm involved in Internet service or e-commerce.


How important are the big numbers? If you believe surveys that track MBA opinions about why they accept a job, it has little to do with compensation. When MIT Sloan asked its Class of 2014 graduates the reason they accepted an offer, the vast majority–32.5%–said it was for the growth potential. Some 16.1% mentioned “job function,” 15.4% industry, 12.8% job content, 7.9% people or company culture, 5.2% prestige of employer, and 5.2% the location of the job. Only 3.6% of the graduates said they accepted a job because of the pay dangled before them.

One interesting tidbit to take away from the highest numbers is that most of them occur at the most highly ranked business schools. Those whopping pay days outside the norm are far less likely at lower ranked MBA programs. Indeed, the highest paid grads at Carnegie Mellon, Vanderbilt and Washington University all hit the standard base pay offer from a top consulting firm: $135,000.

The Highest Reported MBA Salaries of 2014

School Compensation Industry
Penn (Wharton) $350,000 (Other year-end comp) Unknown
Stanford $300,000 (Base salary) Investment Banking
Stanford $300,000 (Base salary) Private Equity
Penn (Wharton) $300,000 (Base salary) Unknown
Harvard Business School $300,000 (Base salary)* Private Equity
Harvard Business School $300,000 (Base salary)* Venture Capital
Chicago (Booth) $275,000 (Base salary) Private Equity
Columbia Business School $275,000 (Base salary) Manufacturing
UC-Berkeley (Haas) $255,000 (Base salary) Financial Services
Northwestern (Kellogg) $240,000 (Base salary) Consumer Products
Dartmouth (Tuck) $225,000 (Base salary) PE/Venture Capital
Duke (Fuqua) $210,000 (Base salary) Consulting
New York (Stern) $200,000 (Base salary) Real Estate
Cornell (Johnson) $180,000 (Base salary) Consulting
UCLA (Anderson) $180,000 (Base salary) Investment Management
Michigan (Ross) $165,000 (Base salary) Healthcare/Pharma
MIT (Sloan) $180,000 (Base salary) Healthcare/Pharma
MIT (Sloan) $180,000 (Base salary) Software/Internet
Indiana (Kelley) $160,000 (Base salary) Unknown
Virginia (Darden) $160,000 (Base salary) Law
Washington (Foster) $160,000 (Base salary) Unknown
Georgetown (McDonough) $150,000 (Base salary) Real Estate
North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) $150,000 (Base salary) Financial Services
UT-Austin (McCombs) $150,000 (Base salary) Financial Services
Emory (Goizueta) $140,000 (Base salary) Consulting
Vanderbilt $135,000 (Base salary) Consulting
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) $135,000 (Base salary) Consulting
Washington Univ. (Olin) $135,000 (Base salary) Consulting

Source: Business school employment reports

Notes: An asterisk indicates an estimate

(See following page for the lowest reported MBA salaries)

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