What Harvard MBAs Made This Year

Harvard Business School - Ethan Baron photo

Harvard Business School – Ethan Baron photo

One in five Harvard Business School MBAs accepted jobs in tech this year, a level not seen since the last tech boom in 1999 and 2000, just before the dot-com bust exploded. The school’s 2015 employment report, released today (Nov. 9), showed that tech firms attracted 20% of its Class of 2015, up from 17% last year.

A good part of the increase appears to be driven by the lure of startups to newly graduated MBAs. The number of HBS graduates accepting jobs with startups nearly doubled this year to 9% of the class, up from 5% a year earlier. The number of students starting their own companies also rose to 9% from 8% for last year’s graduating class. As is the case with students joining a startup, technology and financial services dominated among founders in terms of industry, but consumer products also saw growth.

The increased reach of technology made that industry only four percentage points lower than consulting, which drew 24% of the graduates. Only five years ago in 2011, just 11% of HBS’ graduates accepted offers from the technology industry. Those gains have largely been at the expense of Wall Street and financial services firms which landed 39% of the HBS class in 2011. Even so, the largest percentage of Harvard MBAs this year–31%–took jobs in financial services. Hedge funds, private equity shops and venture capital firms, which paid the highest median base salaries to HBS grads of $150,000 each–alone attracted 23% of this year’s graduating students.


Overall, it was a another strong year for Harvard MBAs. Students accepting full-time opportunities saw an increase in the median base salary to $130,000 from $125,000, the highest median base of any business school reporting this far this year. The median at Wharton and Chicago Booth is $125,000. It was the second year in a row that Harvard grads saw a $5K increase. Only two years ago, the median starting base salary at HBS was $120,000.

“The increase in compensation is driven by many industries, not just one, including consulting, manufacturing, retail, services, technology, and some financial services,” says Kristen Fitzpatrick, director of the school’s Career & Professional Development Office. All these sectors saw their median base salaries jump by at least $5,000.

Some 65% of the students received median sign-on bonuses of $25,000, while 19% reported other median guaranteed compensation of $26,000. Median total first-year compensation for HBS graduates reached $151,211 (The median is weighted by the proportion of graduates who reported a sign-on bonus and other guaranteed compensation, because not everyone in the class receives those extras).

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