Average First Year Pay At Fuqua: $151K

Team Fuqua, the term for the school's highly collaborative culture, is a defining element at Duke

Team Fuqua, the term for the school’s highly collaborative culture, is a defining element at Duke

Chauk up 2016 as another steller year for the graduating MBAs at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business. The school announced yesterday (Oct. 14) that its graduates earned median starting salaries of $120,000, same as last year, while 80% of the Class of 2016 received median sign-on bonuses of $25,000 and another 9% reported median other guaranteed compensation of $20,500.

All told, the total median first-year pay package for a Fuqua grad this year was $141,871, just a tad below last year’s $144,120 level due to slightly fewer students landing signing bonuses. The average first-year pay package was a bit more impressive at $151,045, up 4% over $145,174 last year. The numbers, adjusted to account for the percentage of MBAs reporting bonuses, are certainly among the best stats reported by Fuqua since the Great Recession and compare favorably with those of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business, the only M7 school to disclose employment data for this year so far. At Booth, median total pay was $145,723 with median starting salary just $5,000 more at $125,000.

For Fuqua’s Class of 2016, The highest reported starting salary this year was $225,000 in an undisclosed industry. But other Fuqua MBAs landing big pay days included one with a first-year salary of $220,220 headed into the technology industry in a marketing job with a software and applications company and another with a $220,000 starting salary in healthcare consulting. The lowest salary was $50,000.


“It’s been a good year,” says Sheryle Dirks, associate dean for career management at Fuqua. “Things look pretty much like last year, but the number of top employers who hire four or more graduates and interns is up to 50 from 41, a low last year. For the previous four years those numbers had been at a steady decline, a sign of increasing fragmentation.”

Consulting firms led the way. They dangled the highest starting salaries in front of MBAs at the school, a median $140,000, up from last year’s $135,000 offer. That was $15,000 more than the next highest paid industries, private wealth management and investment banking where the median was $125,000. But the median sign-on bonus in i-banking hit $50,000 this year, double the standard $25,000 sign-on in consulting.

The school said 87% of the class had job offers at graduation this year, while 94% had offers three months later.—a single percentage point lower than the 95% total last year. Fuqua reported that 83% of its graduates had accepted their jobs by commencement and 92% did so three months after wearing their caps and gowns. The numbers would have been higher, says Dirks, if not for an increasing number of students seeking jobs with early state companies and startups that do just-in-time recruiting.


The salary and placement stats are in the school’s 2016 employment report. Year in and year out, Fuqua is among the most transparent schools in reporting career statistics. The school not only provides a complete list of its major employers every year, it also makes available historical data for eight years (see our exclusive analysis for a five-year look at all the major employers of Fuqua grads and an extraordinary look at the MBA job market overall). Fuqua is also among the earliest schools to provide a full employment report, before Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, or Kellogg. So the release of the school’s numbers are a strong reflection of the top-tier MBA job market and is often reflective of trends other schools are likely to report later on.

Sheryle Dirks, Fuqua School of Business

Sheryle Dirks, Fuqua School of Business

One big trend is the increasing demand for MBA talent on the West Coast where the economy has been growing steadily due to the strength of the technology sector. Some 24% of the class landed jobs in the West, edging out the Northeast’s 23%. Dirks says that more Duke MBAs are going to the West Coast “It was the #1 U.S. region for graduates for the first time,” adds Dirks. “Historically, the Northeast and the South have been the top regions within the U.S., and the Northeast was still the top U.S. region among interns last year with the West second. This change is attributed to the popularity of the technology and health care industries, along with increased numbers going to consulting offices there.”

Consulting firms and technology companies hired the most Duke MBAs this year with Deloitte, Amazon, BCG, Microsoft, PwC and McKinsey at the top of the school’s employer list. The consulting industry carted away 32% of this year’s class—the same as last year—while technology claimed 19% of the class—up a tick from the 18% a year earlier. Finance shrunk to just 18%, down two percentage points form 2015 when the sector employed 20% of the class.

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