The Big Surprise In Booth’s 2016 Pay Report

Chicago's Booth School of Business

Chicago’s Booth School of Business

Hungry for top-tier MBA talent, the consulting industry has upped its starting offers to new MBA graduates again this year to a median of $145,000 with a $25,000 signing bonus. That’s $5,000 more than a year earlier when starting offers were $140,000 at top schools and $10,000 more than only two years ago when the standard offer was $135,000 to start.

At the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the $145K starting salary is now higher than any other industry, including private equity, venture capital and investment management. The $170,000 salary-and-bonus packages, moreover, do not include tuition reimbursement, even though many consulting firms now pay summer interns who accept a job offer their second year of tuition as an inducement to join their firms. At Booth, a year of tuition is now $66,540. For MBA students at leading schools lucky enough to land an internship and an offer, the first year compensation deal is now nearly a quarter of a million dollars at $236,540.

Booth is the first M7 school to release an early look at 2016 employment stats. School reports are only beginning to trickle out from less than a handful of top schools, including USC’s Marshall School, Washington University’s Olin School, and Cambridge University Judge School of Business. Duke University’s Fuqua School is expected to release its 2016 employment report by week’s end.


Overall, Booth said the median salary for its Class of 2016 graduates remained the same as the previous year: $125,000, with 66% of graduates reporting a sign-on bonus of a median $25,000 and another 17% getting other guaranteed bonus of $25,000. The median pay package for a Booth grad this year was $145,723, a figure adjusted for the percentage of graduates receiving bonuses. Those numbers, however, do not include other perks granted to some MBAs, including tuition reimbursement, relocation expenses, free autos, stock options or equity grants.

This year’s highest reported salary went to a Booth MBA who took a job in investment management, presumably a hedge fund, at $215,000. Another graduate reported a $200,000 starting salary at a private equity firm. The highest sign-on bonus—$50,000—went to a Boothie who landed an investment banking job. The lowest salary—$50,000—went to a graduate who took a job in finance, apparently because that job had significant upside potential (See table on following page).

Despite the lucrative offers dangled before students from the likes of McKinsey, Bain, BCG, Deloitte, Accenture and other high profile consulting firms, the consulting industry took away fewer Booth students this year than in 2015. Some 30.1% of Booth MBAs ventured into consulting this year, compared to a peak of 32.3% in 2015. Finance remained the number one choice for Boothies, attracting 35.9% of the Class of 2016, up slightly from 34.8% a year earlier, even though median starting pay offers were $20,000 less than in consulting.


In finance, most Booth MBAs went into investment banking and brokerage—14.5%–followed by diversified financial services—7.1%—and investment management and research—6.9%. For what appears to be the first time, diversified financial services overtook investment management in attracting a slightly larger group of students, becoming one of the top five industries at Booth (see below table). Some 4.8% of the class headed into private equity this year, roughly the same as last year’s 4.9%. Only 1.6% of the class accepted jobs in venture capital firms, up a bit from 0.9% a year earlier.

Tech firms continued to take an increasing number of Booth MBAs this year. Some 15.6% of the graduating class went into tech, up from 15.0% last year and 13.5% in 2014 and 9.0% in 2012. Some 7.1% of this year’s MBAs went into consumer products, up from 5.2% last year. Booth does not release the names of its major employers in its interim report but will do so when the final report goes public.

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