Record Total Pay At Booth As Tech Gains More Favor

The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business — Photo by John A. Byrne

Total median compensation for MBAs graduating from the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business Booth this year reached a new record: An estimated $149,750, up 3.5% from the year earlier total of $144,750. Median pay was boosted by a $5K increase in base salaries to $130,000 this year from $125,000 in 2017.

But the bigger news in the school’s 2018 employment report concerns the career choices of Booth MBAs. After consulting overtook financial services at Booth as the No. 1 career choice for the first time ever last year, finance made something of a comeback, barely edging out consulting to regain its status as the top industry recruiter of the school’s MBAs. Some 31.6% of this year’s Boothies accepted jobs in financial services this year, up from a record low of 29.9% in 2017. The consulting industry nearly matched that at 31.0%, down from 32.6% a year earlier. Finance also gained at the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business (see Wharton MBA Salaries Jump As Finance Recovers).

Meantime, the tech companies drew a record 20.3% of the Class of 2018, up from 18.7% last year. Every year, tech has been gaining more and more Booth MBAs. Only five years ago in 2013, just 13.5% of the MBA class went into the technology industry. This year was the first time ever that tech firms, led by Amazon, Google and Microsoft, pushed past the 20% mark. Amazon’s hiring at Booth underscores the trend. This year, the company–which now recruits more MBAs than any other in the world–hired 4.7% of Booth’s MBAs or 23 of the 490 graduates seeking employment. Five years go, in 2013, Amazon took just 1.9% of the graduating class, 10 of 520 students seeking jobs.


When it comes to business school employment reports, Chicago Booth’s has long been among the most transparent, listing all major employers who hire four or more graduates from each class along with minimum and maximum salaries for each industry sector. The only numbers Booth tends not to disclose are average compensation, preferring instead to report medians which after all are more representative of a class’ total pay.

This year total median comp, adjusted for the percentage of graduates receiving sign-on bonuses and an estimate of other guaranteed pay, came just shy of $150,000 as a result of the first increase in median base salary in four years (see table below). Base came to $130,000, up from the $125,000 level where it had been in 2017, 2016 and 2015. Median sign-on bonuses of $25,000 were received by 63% of the class. Another 16% of the class received other median guaranteed comp of $25,000, a number estimated by P&Q because Booth chose not to disclose this number in the 2018 employment report in keeping with new industry guidelines on reporting MBA pay.

Booth MBAs able to land jobs in consulting and private equity gained the largest paychecks this year, with both industries now paying MBAs median base salaries of $150,000–$20K over the class median. The highest starting salary went to an MBA who took on an investment management job, presumably with a hedge fund, at a base of a quarter of a million a year, followed by a recruit to private equity firm which paid at least one Boothie $225,000 to start and a venture capital firm that paid out a $200,000 salary. Median sign-on bonuses were highest in investment banking and e-commerce where Booth MBAs reported signing perks of $50,000, double the class median.


Booth reported that 89.4% of its MBAs had job offers at graduation this year, with 87.6% accepting their offers. Those numbers were down slightly from 2017 when 90.7% of the class had job offers in hand at commencement and 88% took their offers. The decline was largely caused by lower offer numbers for international students. This year, 87.3% of the internationals had job offers at graduation, down from 89.3% a year earlier and 92.3% in 2016. In fact, in 2016, a higher percentage of international students reported job offers than U.S. citizens, 92.3% versus 89.8%.

That is no longer the case across the board. Three months after graduation, 96.3% of the class this year had job offers, down a touch from 97.1% a year earlier, while 95.5% accepted the offers, roughly the same as the 95.3% level of accepts in 2017. Once again, international placement rates brought the overall numbers down. This year, 95.2% of internationals had offers three months after graduation–a strong and impressive record–down from 96.4% pst year and 100% two years go.

In 2016, the year Trump was elected president, every single one of the international students graduating from Booth had a job offer three months after commencement, better than the 97.6% rate for U.S. citizens by 2.6 percentage points. Internationals now trail U.S. citizens in job offers three months after commencement, 95.2% versus 96.9%, a gap 1.7 percentage points.


McKinsey & Co., the prestige global consulting firm, again topped all other employers in hauling away the largest group of students. This year, McKinsey hired 39 Booth MBAs, roughly 8% of the entire class, down from 48 a year earlier. McKinsey rival Bain & Co. employed 25 MBAs, three more than in 2017, while Amazon’s hire of 23 Boothies was slightly down from its peak hires last year from Booth of 26.

Boston Consulting Group and Accenture rounded out the top five major employers, with BCG taking 19 MBAs and Accenture hiring 13. The first financial services firm to make the list was JPMorgan Chase, which upped its hiring to 12 from nine a year ago. Both Goldman Sachs and Morgan Stanley employed seven, while Citigroup and Evercore Partners each hired a half dozen Booth MBAs. Google, meantime, brought away nine Boothies, up from six a year earlier, while Microsoft hired seven, down from 11 in 2017 (see table on all of Booth’s major employers over the years).

All told, 23 companies hired four or more Booth MBAs this year, accounting for 45.8% of the total grades hired, according to the school. Another 30 companies hired two or three graduates. Some 171 companies employed only one Booth student this year, representing 34.8% of all the hires. Booth said that 3.2% of its class took jobs with startups where the median base was $114,375, though pay with startups ranged from a low of $70,000 and a high of $150,000.


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