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First Year Median Pay At Wharton $146K

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School - Ethan Baron photo

University of Pennsylvania Wharton School – Ethan Baron photo

In a preliminary employment report on the Class of 2015, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School today (Nov. 6) reported that 98.4% of its graduating MBAs had job offers three months after graduation, up from 96% a year earlier. The median base salary remained unchanged from the past two years, $125,000, with 63% of the class getting median sign-on bonuses of $25,000 and another 19% reporting other median guaranteed compensation of $30,000.

Those numbers are relatively on par with year-earlier compensation. All told, the median total compensation package for Wharton MBAs this year totaled $146,303, up ever so slightly from $145,300 last year. Still, of the half dozen prominent business schools that have reported on compensation for the Class of 2015, Wharton is the only school not to report an increase in the starting pay for its MBA graduates. The median base has been stuck at $125,000 for three consecutive years.

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, Michigan’s Ross School of Business, Indiana University’s Kelley School, Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business, and Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Business have all reported at least slight rises in median base pay this year. Median salaries for Chicago Booth MBAs reached a record $125,000–matching Wharton’s numbers for the first time–a $5,000 increase from a year earlier. It was the second year in a row in which median salaries rose by $5,000 at Booth.


Wharton still had some very big numbers to report, however. The highest paid MBA in the class landed a base salary of $300,000, while the highest sign-on bonus equalled the $300,000. The most lucrative other guaranteed comp high received by one MBA was $275,000.

The career choices of the Class of 2015 pretty much mirrored the year-earlier class, with a slightly lower percentage of MBAs headed into tech. Wharton said that 11.3% of its graduates accepted jobs in technology, down from 13.7% a year earlier. Thus far, Wharton is one of the few schools reporting employment stats where the tech companies got fewer graduates this year than last.

The single biggest chunk of Wharton MBAs, as expected, ventured into finance, with 36.9% of the class taking jobs in financial services, up a tick from the 35.5% a year earlier. Most of them headed into investment banking and brokerage jobs, which took 14% of the class. MBAs landing jobs with private equity and buyout firms–which generally offer the highest total compensation packages–slipped to 7.3%, down from 8.5% last year and the smallest percentage in four years.

The percentage of the Class of 2015 who entered the world of finance is among the lowest in recent memory: In 2008, 47.7% of Wharton’s MBAs accepted jobs in the financial services industry.


One eye-popping number in the report: The 4.1% of the class that accepted jobs with hedge funds reported median other guaranteed comp of $200,000. Those hedge fund jobs paid median base salaries of $125,000 and sign-on bonuses of $20,000. Wharton did not say how many of the 24 students received “other guaranteed compensation.”

Consulting firms claimed 26.3% of this year’s Wharton class, a slight rise from last year’s 25.9% but considerably below the 30.1% in 2011 when finance was still struggling to recover in the wake of the Great Recession. Consumer products and retail hired 7.4% versus 7.5% last year, while healthcare jobs were accepted by 6.1% of the class, up a bit from 5.8% a year earlier.

The numbers were disclosed by Wharton on its website, though the school’s full 2015 employment report is not yet public. The school said that 47% received relocation expenses with a median of $10,000, while 4% of the graduates got median tuition reimbursement of $60,000, ranging from $10,000 to $160,000.

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