Vandy’s 2016 MBAs Gain Record Pay Haul

Amazon at Vanderbilt University's Owen School of Management

Amazon at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management

For the graduating MBAs at Vanderbilt University’s Owen School of Management, 2016 was another record year for compensation. The average median pay package for the Class of 2016 rose 3.4% to a record $133,446 from $129,246 a year earlier. The median increase was even better, rising 7.4% to $132,040 from $122,944 in 2015.

For a school that sends nearly half of its graduates into jobs in the south, those are solid numbers. The median pay package this year for MBAs at Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business was $141,871, while the median comp package at the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business was $145,723. The total compensation numbers are adjusted to account for the percentage of graduates receiving bonuses.

In releasing its 2016 employment report, the school said that 85% of its graduating MBAs had job offers at graduation, with 94% reporting offers three months later—roughly the same as year-earlier 86% and 94% levels, respectively. Some 80% of the class accepted their offers at graduation this year, while 90% said ‘yes’ three months later—numbers that also were roughly in line with the 2015 totals of 81% and 92%, respectively.


Emily Anderson heads up Owen's career management team

Emily Anderson heads up Owen’s career management team

“We had another good year,” says Emily Anderson, director of Owen’s career management center. “It’s a record again. A lot of it depends on the mix of industries, but we’ve seen base salaries increase pretty steadily for corporate roles and the consulting numbers are pretty high to start with.”

Median salaries rose to $110,000 this year, up from $105,000 last year. Median sign-on bonuses, received by 78% of this year’s class, also went up to $25,000, from $20,000 last year. Median other guaranteed compensation, picked up by 17% of the graduates, totalled $17,125, up quite a bit from the $10,500 in 2015. The highest paid MBA landed a $180,000 starting salary in strategy consulting, while the lowest paid graduate—a foreign national—accepted a $40,000 offer to work in human resources.

The biggest news, however, was the increase in MBAs taking jobs in the healthcare sector. The percentage of Owen grads accepting jobs in healthcare doubled this year to 24% of the class, up from 12% in 2015, and just a percentage point from the number one industry choice—consulting—which took 25% of the Class of 2016. Anderson says the increase is largely coming from health care services, not pharma or medical device companies. “Health care services is getting stronger in our population of graduates,” she says.


Some 15% of the MBAs went to work in financial services, down from 17% in 2015, 6% of the class headed into imanufacturing and another 6% in consumer products, while retail, energy and real estate each attracted 2% of the Class of 2016—pretty much the same as the previous year.

Another surprise in this year’s report: Amazon, which led all major employers at Owen last year with 12 hires, failed to only employed seven Owen grads this year. The decline, no doubt, helped to drive down the percentage of MBAs going into technology to 13% of the class, a six-percentage point drop from 19% a year earlier. The drop is likely an anomaly because Amazon employed 16 MBA interns this summer, more than double the next employer which was Deloitte with seven interns.

Anderson notes that despite the drop in hires this year, Amazon has actually expanded its relationship with the school. In the past four or five years, she says, the ecommerce giant had been recruiting MBAs for its Pathways program, an operations leadership development program that largely placed MBA in distribution facilities for 18 months before rotating them into other assignments. “That has been such a successful program for us that it has been our gateway to Amazon,” says Anderson, who adds that Amazon is now recruiting Owen students for three other programs in product management, retail leadership, and finance.


This year’s major employers of the class was headed by Deloitte (10), North Highland Co. (8), Amazon (7), DaVita (4), McKesson (4), P&G (4), KPMG Consulting (3), and Johnson & Johnson (3). Companies that dropped off the list of major employers this year include AT&T and Citi, both of which hired four Owen grads last year, General Electric, Hewlett Packard, and American Airlines.

The highest paying industry at Owen was management and strategic consulting where the median starting salary was $135,000, followed by investment banking and private wealth management, which paid $125,000 to start.

Owen compensation figures are impacted somewhat by the preference of most graduates to work in the south. Some 46% of this year’s class took jobs in the south, compared to 15% in the northeast, 13% in the west, 13% in the midwest, 9% in the southwest, and 4% in the mid-Atlantic (see map below). The school said that students accepted full-time and internship employment in more than 38 metropolitan areas across the United States, with the major concentrations outside of Nashville in Atlanta, New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Seattle, Dallas/Ft. Worth and Charlotte. Additionally, we had students accept jobs and internships in China, Guatemala and Switzerland.

Anderson says she is expecting another strong year for Owen grads in 2017. “The Class of 2017 enjoyed a robust summer internship market, which resulted in a full 100% of first-year students seeking an internship accepting an internship by June,” she says. “Our interns spent the summer in a wide array of industries and job functions in 102 different companies, with approximately 50% returning to Owen in August for their second year with a full-time job offer from their internship.”


Source: Vanderbilt Owen 2016 employment report

Source: Vanderbilt Owen 2016 employment report


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