Kellogg | Mr. Double Whammy
GMAT 730, GPA 7.1/10
INSEAD | Mr. Tesla Manager
GMAT 720, GPA 3.7
Yale | Mr. Army Pilot
GMAT 650, GPA 2.90
Darden | Mr. Tech To MBB
GMAT 710, GPA 2.4
INSEAD | Ms. Investment Officer
GMAT Not taken, GPA 16/20 (French scale)
Cornell Johnson | Mr. SAP SD Analyst
GMAT 660, GPA 3.60
McCombs School of Business | Mr. Startup Of You
GMAT 770, GPA 2.4
Kellogg | Mr. Hopeful Admit
GMAT Waived, GPA 4.0
UCLA Anderson | Mr. International PM
GMAT 730, GPA 2.3
Harvard | Mr. Policy Development
GMAT 740, GPA Top 30%
Ross | Mr. Brazilian Sales Guy
GRE 326, GPA 77/100 (USA Avg. 3.0)
GMAT -, GPA 2.9
Berkeley Haas | Ms. Against All Odds
GMAT 720, GPA 2.9
Wharton | Ms. Finance For Good
GMAT 730, GPA 3.7
Stanford GSB | Mr. Future VC
GMAT 750, GPA 3.6
Wharton | Mr. Investment Associate
GMAT 700, GPA 3.67
Kellogg | Ms. Public School Teacher
GRE 325, GPA 3.93
Stanford GSB | Ms. Education Reform
GRE 331 (Practice), GPA 2.92
Harvard | Mr. Hedge Fund
GMAT 740, GPA 3.8
INSEAD | Mr. Future In FANG
GMAT 650, GPA 3.5
Berkeley Haas | Mr. Army Officer
GRE 325, GPA 3.9
Harvard | Mr. Italian In Tokyo
GMAT (710-740), GPA 4.0
Kellogg | Mr. IDF Commander
GRE Waved, GPA 3.0
Berkeley Haas | Mx. CPG Marketer
GMAT 750, GPA 3.95
Yale | Mr. Healthcare Geek
GMAT 680, GPA 3.5
USC Marshall | Mr. Low GPA High GMAT
GMAT 740, GPA 2.44
Harvard | Mr. MedTech Startup
GMAT 740, GPA 3.80

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.