Early Jobs Data Show Robust MBA Market

If you read the national media, you might very well think that the MBA—the most popular graduate degree in the U.S.—isn’t doing all that well and neither are business schools. Just check out these recent headlines:

MBA Applications Decline For Third Year In A Row — The Wall Street Journal

MBA Program At University of Wisconsin May Be On The Chopping Block — The Wall Street Journal

What’s Killing U.S. Business Schools? — Fortune

But as is often the case with journalists who focus on the negative, there’s quite a different picture in reality.

The first of the many employment reports for the Class of 2017 from five highly regarded business schools, including two M7 MBA programs, a pair of highly ranked U.S. players and one of Europe’s top schools, show that the latest crop of MBAs are being scooped up by world class companies at record or near-record levels with compensation packages that have rarely been higher.


Job offers at all five schools within three months of graduation are in excess of 90%, with the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business at 97% and Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business at 94%. The starting pay packages for these MBAs ranges from a high of $154,750 at Harvard to $130,218 at Cambridge University’s Judge Business School. And the top employers of each school’s graduating classes are among the most admired organizations in the world: Amazon, McKinsey, Deloitte, E&Y, Microsoft, and Morgan Stanley.

As high as the numbers are, moreover, they are in every case conservative estimates. In many cases,  graduates who do not have job offers are pursuing more unusual career opportunities with startups or organizations that do not do mainstream MBA recruiting. In other cases, some students are preferring to work in sectors that pay less, in jobs with non-profits, the government, education and healthcare.

Of course, all five schools are solidly in the top 1% of the MBA market, but the success of the latest graduating classes of MBAs tells a very different story from recent headlines. While you might expect stellar results from an HBS or a Chicago Booth, it’s worthwhile to look more closely at Emory Goizueta, currently ranked 20th in the U.S. by Poets&Quants, and Vanderbilt Owen, ranked 26th.


At Goizueta, average and median base salaries were up handsomely. The median jumped by $10K to $120,000, highest ever. The average salary hit $119,665, up from $116,658. The top ten employers of the school’s MBAs are an impressive group: EY, Amazon, PwC, Deloitte, Citigroup, Georgia Pacific, KPMG, UPS, Delta, Accenture, and J.P. Morgan. The total median starting compensation for a Goizueta MBA this year was $144,580, up from $133,908 a year ago. The total pay package figures are adjusted for the percentage of students reporting sign-on bonuses and other guaranteed compensation (see table below). Goizueta’s median starting compensation this year is just $10K under the median packages at Harvard Business School.

“It’s definitley a strong market,” concludes Maureen Manion-Leone, interim director of Goizueta’s Career Management Center. “We have more employers who come to visit than we have students. We had  an extremely strong consulting class (40% of the class by function went into consulting versus 38% last year) and that really drove our salaries. And we saw continued interest in the tech space. A lot more students choose technology this year, with Amazon being the second biggest employer (last year Amazon was third).”

In fact, students going into the technology industry now equal those who took jobs in financial services. This year, 17% of the class chose to work in tech, up from only 9% a year ago. A three-point drop occurred in the students going into the finance industry, down to 17% from 20% a year ago. Manion-Leone attributes the shift to tech and away from finance largely to student preference. “A lot of really smart and intelligent students are going into tech or consulting. It’s a combination of lifestyle as well as what we see every day in the media. People don’t want to work for banks like they used to. They don’t see it as a top job.”

Pay & Employment Remains Strong At A Wide Range Of MBA Programs

School Job Offers Total Median Pay Major Employers
Chicago (Booth) 97% $141,500 McKinsey, Amazon, BCG, Bain, Accenture, Morgan Stanley
UPenn (Wharton) 97% $149,300 McKinsey, BCG, Amazon, Bain, Goldman Sachs
Minnesota (Carlson) 96% $122,400 3M, Deloitte, Ecolab, Land O’Lakes, Microsoft
Harvard Business School 95% $154,750* NA
Northwestern (Kellogg) 94% $140,350 McKinsey, BCG, Amazon, Bain, Microsoft
Emory (Goizueta) 94% $144,580* E&Y, Amazon, PwC, Deloitte, Citigroup, Georgia Pacific
Vanderbilt (Owen) 93% $130,750 Amazon, Deloitte, Wells Fargo, Microsoft, North Highland
Indiana (Kelley) 92% $134,113* E&Y, Microsoft, P&G, Amazon, Deloitte
Cambridge (Judge) 92% $130,218 Amazon, McKinsey, Google, Uber, BCG

* Reflects starting salary, sign-on bonus and other guaranteed compensation, adjusted for the percentage of students receiving bonuses and other comp. The rest of the numbers include only salary and sign-on bonus because the school does not report other guaranteed compensation.

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