Stanford GSB | Mr. Fill In The Gaps
GRE 330, GPA 3.21
Darden | Mr. Military Communications Officer
GRE Not taken yet, GPA 3.4
INSEAD | Mr. Behavioral Changes
GRE 336, GPA 5.8/10
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Texas Recruiter
GMAT 770, GPA 3.04
USC Marshall | Mr. Strategy Consultant
GMAT 730, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Ms. Qualcomm Quality
GMAT 660, GPA 3.4
HEC Paris | Mr. Introverted Dancer
GMAT 720, GPA 4.0
Georgetown McDonough | Mr. Navy Vet
GRE 310, GPA 2.6
Kellogg | Ms. Retail To Technology
GMAT 670, GPA 3.8
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Entertainment Agency
GMAT 750, GPA 3.8
Chicago Booth | Mr. Quant
GMAT 750, GPA 3.7
Ross | Mr. Top 25 Hopeful
GMAT 680, GPA 3.3
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Well-Traveled Nonprofit Star
GRE 322, GPA 3.0
Yale | Mr. Gay Social Scientist
GMAT 740, GPA 2.75 undergrad, 3.8 in MS
Wharton | Mr. MBA When Ready
GMAT 700 (expected), GPA 3.3
London Business School | Mr. Low Undergrad GPA
GMAT 760, GPA 65/100 (1.0)
Harvard | Mr. Aspiring FinTech Entrepreneur
GMAT 750, GPA 3.9
Chicago Booth | Ms. Hotel Real Estate
GMAT 730, GPA 3.75
Chicago Booth | Mr. EduTech
GRE 337, GPA 3.9
Columbia | Mr. Infra-Finance
GMAT 710, GPA 3.68
Duke Fuqua | Mr. Vigor
GMAT 740, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Hanging By A Thread
GMAT 710, GPA 3.8
Harvard | Ms. Comeback Kid
GMAT 780, GPA 2.6
London Business School | Mr. Family Investment Fund
GMAT 790, GPA 3.0
HEC Paris | Ms. Freelancer
GMAT 710, GPA 5.3
MIT Sloan | Mr. Sans-Vertebrae
GMAT 730, GPA 3.78
INSEAD | Mr. Business Manager
GMAT 750, GPA 3.0

What Graduating MBAs Made In 2015

Finance is the most lucrative field an MBA can enter

Finance is the most lucrative field an MBA can enter

Saying that 2015 was a really good year for MBA graduates is an understatement. For young professionals coming out of business school, the year was one for the record books, with record levels of employment and starting pay at many of the world’s highly selective MBA programs. In fact, since the onset of the recovery, most schools are reporting double-digit increases in MBA compensation for the first time in many years.

After a long slog of stagnant pay–the result of the Great Recession–the financial sector significantly raised the ante in attracting MBAs from highly selective business schools. The median base salary in investment banking jumped by $25,000 last year to $125,000, with median signing bonuses that reached $47,500 at Harvard Business School and $40,000 at Chicago Booth. Median base for investment management jobs at Harvard rose to $150,000 from $125,000 two years ago, with $30,000 sign-on bonuses, and median other guaranteed compensation of $120,060, up from $72,500 in 2013.

It was heightened competition for MBA talent from the big guns in finance that also caused the MBA-hungry consulting industry to increase their base salary offers to $140,000 last year, a $5,000 increase from the standard $135,000 offers to top-tier MBA graduates in recent years. And tech firms, which have been hiring an increasing number of MBAs, pushed up their offers as well. At HBS, for example, median base pay rose to $125,000, up from $115,000 two years earlier, while sign-on bonuses jumped to $25,000, from $20,000.


The upshot: One school after another ended up reporting record pay for their graduates in 2015, often building on several years of improved salary and bonus numbers. At Chicago Booth, for example, 2015 was the second year in a row in which median salaries rose by $5,000. Two years ago, median salary for graduating Boothies was $115,000. In 2009, median salaries at the school were just $100,000. It is now $125,000. At Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business, median salaries rose 8% last year to $120,000, up from $111,000.

When it comes to total pay numbers, Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business is nearly in a class by itself. The median total pay package–including base, signing bonus and guaranteed year-end bonus–came to a record total of $160,287. That sum comes from a median starting salary of $130,000, a $25,000 sign-on bonus, received by 44% of the class, and a median year-end bonus of $52,500, handed to 37% of the class. Not surprisingly, Harvard Business School MBAs were second, with median total pay of $151,211.

Yet, the $160K mark at Stanford is highly conservative because it does not include stock grants or options, tuition reimbursement, relocation expense reimbursement, auto allowance, profit sharing, 401K match, or other perks and benefits. Though Stanford did not disclose what percentage of its graduates received stock, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business revealed that 36% of its MBA graduates last year got either stock or stock options with their job offers, up from 31% a year earlier. At UCLA’s Anderson School of Management, 34.1% of last year’s MBAs received equity as part of their compensation, up from 27.9% a year earlier.

About The Author

John A. Byrne is the founder and editor-in-chief of C-Change Media, publishers of Poets&Quants and four other higher education websites. He has authored or co-authored more than ten books, including two New York Times bestsellers. John is the former executive editor of Businessweek, editor-in-chief of Businessweek. com, editor-in-chief of Fast Company, and the creator of the first regularly published rankings of business schools. As the co-founder of CentreCourt MBA Festivals, he hopes to meet you at the next MBA event in-person or online.