Record Starting Pay At Columbia B-School

Columbia Business School recruitment day - Ethan Baron photo

Columbia Business School recruitment day – Ethan Baron photo

Columbia Business School has turned in the bottom line results for the Class of 2015 and they are awfully good numbers, again proving that this year is wrapping up as the best ever in both pay and employment for graduates of the top MBA programs.

Columbia said median base salaries rose 4.7% to $125,000 for the class, with 62.4% of the graduates receiving median sign-on bonuses of $25,000 each, and another 19.8% landing other guaranteed first-year compensation of $25,000. All told, the typical Columbia MBA walked away with a first-year median comp package of $146,645, up from the $139,715 level of only a year ago. So far, that’s just behind No. 1 Stanford at $160,287 and No. 2 Harvard at $151,211 and slightly above Wharton and Dartmouth Tuck (see below chart).

It was the second year in a row of rising starting salaries at Columbia after a three-year stall at a $110,000 base. Last year, base pay rose to $119,400 from that $110K level in 2013. At the height of the Great Recession in 2009, Columbia grads earned $100,000 in starting salaries and only 77.3% of them had accepted jobs three jobs after graduation.


With the economic implosion now only a dim memory, the school said that 97% of its graduating class had job offers three months after graduation–the same high percentage as last year–while 93% had accepted their positions three months out, up two points from the 91% acceptance rate for the Class of 2015.

There were some very big numbers in the mix. One graduating MBA at Columbia reported a first-year guaranteed bonus from his job of $467,000. The MBA was among the 4.1% of the class headed into private equity. Another graduating MBA reported a class high starting salary of $320,000 for a job with a consumer products manufacturing company. The highest base salaries in finance this year were $250,000 to students who assumed investment management positions.

MBA jobs in investment banking and brokerage, hedge funds, and consulting largely drove the class median up this year. Columbia MBAs who went into consulting saw offers raise to $140,000 in salary to start, up from $135,000. But the biggest increases occurred in finance. I-bankers saw median bases rise to $125,000 from $100,000, commercial bankers realized increases to $125,000 from $115,000, while grads lucky to land a job with a hedge fund saw their starting salary jump to $150,000 from $132,000 a year earlier.