Offers Steady, But Vanderbilt MBA Salaries Dip

Inside Management Hall, home of the Owen Graduate School of Management at Vanderbilt University. Marc Ethier photo

Average base starting pay has dropped slightly for MBA graduates of Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management, ending a three-year streak of rising salaries. Class of 2018 graduates reported an average starting salary of $111,168, down 1.8% from last year’s record high of $113,205.

Other streaks continued for Owen grads, however. The school’s 2018 employment report, released Monday (October 29), shows that for the sixth straight year, 90% or more MBAs report accepting job offers three months after graduation; the trend of rising post-MBA compensation continued in one category, sign-on bonuses, which rose again this year to $26,415; and for the seventh straight year, 100% of first-year MBAs seeking a summer internship got one.

“We are very grateful to work with a fantastic group of recruiting partners who provide a wide range of opportunities for our students,” Emily Anderson, director of the Owen Career Management Center, said in a statement accompanying the report.


Ninety-two percent of 2018 Owen MBAs received job offers by three months after graduation, and 90% accepted. That’s down slightly from last year’s marks of 93% and 91%, respectively. A quarter of the Class of 2018 went into consulting, upending tech as last year’s top industry, while 21% took jobs in healthcare and 13% each in financial services and tech.

Amazon, which hired 11 Owen grads last year and 18 from the last two graduating classes, hired another seven in 2018, tied with Deloitte and followed by Ernst & Young (four) and five companies at three hires each. More of the school’s grads stayed in the South than the past two years — 52%, an increase of 11% from 2017.

Grads from a Southern school staying in the South shouldn’t come as too big a surprise. Anderson recognized Owen alumni, in particular, for their help throughout the recruiting process. “We cannot thank the dedicated Owen alumni enough for their continued support of our current students and their willingness to maintain recruiting relations with their employers,” she said.

“Our alumni also provide guidance and mentorship to the current student body to engage with them to explore potential post-MBA career paths. We look forward to continuing these wonderful relationships.”

The distribution of Vanderbilt Owen MBA grads from the Class of 2018. More than half (52%) remain in the South. Vanderbilt image


The highest reported base salary for a 2018 Owen MBA is $155,000, for a U.S. resident who went into management/strategy consulting. The highest reported salary for a foreign national graduating from Owen is $142,000 for someone who went into brand/product marketing.

It was a tougher job market altogether for foreign students graduating from Owen in 2018. By three months after graduation, in August 2018, only 79% of foreign nationals — 27 total students — reported receiving a job offer. That’s down from 90% the previous year. Even worse, only 74% reported accepting an offer — down from 87% in 2017. On the plus side for internationals, 38 companies of the 150 who hired an employee or intern out of Owen in 2018 hired at least one graduate on a student visa. Those companies include Dell, Deloitte, Walmart, Microsoft, and Bank of America Merrill Lynch.

Meanwhile, Owen rightly points with pride to its seven-year streak of placing 100% of its 168 first-year MBA students in summer internships, 98% of which were paid with an average monthly salary of $6,976. But internships last year didn’t come with the likelihood of employment they had a year earlier. In 2017, 51% of MBAs got jobs through their internship from the previous summer; that number dropped to 37% in 2018.


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