How valuable is an MBA degree? You can answer that question in any number of ways. But the bottom-line answer might well be how much money you will earn immediately upon graduation.
Anyway you look at it, 2014 was a very good year for average salary and bonus. At many schools, including Harvard and Stanford, it was the first year that average pay exceeded pre-recession levels. The $144,750 average commanded by Harvard MBAs was finally above the $144,261 that members of the Class of 2008 received. The $142,834 average by Stanford MBAs exceeded the $140,771 received by Stanford grads in 2008. And at nearly all the schools, average pay hit new record levels.
MBA graduates from 44 different business schools in the U.S. landed jobs with six-figure pay packages last year, up from 24 in 2010 when the Great Recession had its biggest impact on the entry job market. The last five years have witnessed a complete recovery from the deepest part of the Great Recession. Average salary and bonus at all business schools fell, often dramatically, for MBAs who graduated in 2010. Since then, double-digit pay increases in first year MBA compensation have occurred at many business schools.
MANY SCHOOLS SAW AVERAGE PAY RISE BY MORE THAN 20% SINCE THE RECESSION HIT
Indeed, some of the biggest gains were at schools that were hit hardest by the recession. At the University of Michigan’s Ross School, average salary and bonus has jumped 20.9% in the past five years to $140,497 in 2014, making Ross one of only seven schools in the U.S. with average pay above $140K. But when the recession’s impact on Ross in 2010 was severe: Average MBA pay fell by nearly $10,000 to $116,201 from $125,995 a year earlier.
But the biggest percentage increases since the Great Recession occurred at the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business, a beneficiary of the soaring economy in Seattle. Helped greatly by Microsoft, Amazon and Starbucks, average salary and business for Foster MBAs has risen by 36.9% since 2010 to $125,367 from $91,593. At the University of Rochester’s Simon School, average MBA pay is up 30.6% to $101,961 from $78,083 in 2010. And at Emory University’s Goizueta School, average salary and bonus for MBAs has jumped by 28.0%, the third highest increase, to $128,347 from $100,300 at the height of the recession. At 15 U.S. schools, average pay has increased by 20% or more percent since 2010 (see table below)
The latest compensation numbers are reported by the schools to U.S. News & World Report for its ranking of the best full-time MBA programs published earlier this week. These numbers differ from those reported by schools in their employment reports because the average signing bonus is weighted by the proportion of those graduates who reported a bonus. As such, the averages are more in line with what students can expect because not everyone in a class reports a signing bonus.
Biggest Increases in Average Salary & Bonus Since The Great Recession
|School||Increase||2014 Average Pay||2010 Average Pay|
|University of Washington (Foster)||36.9%||$125,367||$91,593|
|University of Rochester (Simon)||30.6%||$101,961||$78,083|
|Emory University (Goizueta)||28.0%||$128,347||$100,300|
|University of Florida (Hough)||26.0%||$94,986||$75,403|
|Georgia Institute of Technology (Scheller)||24.9%||$115,279||$92,282|
|Carnegie Mellon (Tepper)||24.3%||$131,865||$106,066|
|Washington University (Olin)||23.4%||$111,974||$90,767|
|Ohio State (Fisher)||23.2%||$112,883||$91,628|
|Arizona State (Carey)||22.6%||$112,884||$92,101|
|Vanderbilt University (Owen)||21.9%||$113,830||$93,351|
|University of Michigan (Ross)||20.9%||$140,497||$116,201|
|Purdue University (Krannert)||20.9%||$108,426||$89,655|
|Texas A&M University (Mays)||20.8%||$110,219||$91,246|
|Penn State University (Smeal)||20.4%||$114,971||$95,480|
Source: Business schools reporting to U.S. News & World Report