Tuck Sets New Records On Starting MBA Pay

MBA graduate from Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business

Even though record numbers of this year’s MBAs from the Tuck School of Business accepted jobs in technology and health care, the school’s Class of 2018 reached a new high in starting pay.

Total median starting compensation rose by 3.8% to $151,750 this year, up from $146,250 in 2017. The total number includes median base salary of $130,000, up $5K from $125,000 last year, and median signing bonuses of $25,000, adjusted for the percentage of students who received those incentives, Some 87% of the graduates reported receiving a sign-on bonus, versus 85% last year.

The totals were a tad higher on an average basis. The average starting compensation was $157,989, an increase of 2.8% from $153,663 a year earlier. The base was $130,020, vs. $127,986 last year, while the average sign-on was $33,148, up from $30,208 last year.

Stephen Pidgeon, Tuck’s executive director of career development, says the big pay day for graduates should give would-be applicants confidence of the MBA degree’s payback. “It’s a big investment to come and get an MBA,” says Pidgeon, who adds he went through his own soul searching before going to Tuck for his MBA in 2005. “So I’m pleased that our students are graduating with very good salaries and bonuses.”


Unlike Harvard Business School and Columbia Business School, Tuck did not report other guaranteed compensation for the fourth year in a row. The last time Tuck provided that data point was 2014 when 38% of the class reported median other guaranteed comp of $25,000, with one Tuckie in private equity getting a hefty $148,506 in other guaranteed pay. Tuck’s $151,750 median total this year compares with Columbia’s $155,248 and Harvard Business School’s $160,268, both of which include other guaranteed comp (see Harvard MBAs Now Landing Starting Pay Over $160K).

The school’s top ten employers this year were led by Amazon, McKinsey & Company, The Boston Consulting Group, Bain & Company and Bank of America Merrill Lynch. Also in the mix was Deloitte, EY-Parthenon, J.P. Morgan, CVS Health and Danaher. Tied in tenth place were four companies this year: Didi Chuxing, Ecolab Incorporated, Microsoft, and Wayfair Inc. Tuck stopped revealing the number of hires at each major employer in 2016.

The increases in Tuck MBA pay, while in line with what peer schools are reporting, have come despite rising numbers of Tuck grads who are going into tech and healthcare rather than consulting or finance which tend to dangle more lucrative starting offers to MBA graduates. The median starting base in tech, for example, are $17K under the consulting median of $147,000, while median salaries of $120,000 in health care are $27,000 below consulting (see salary by industry on following page).


A record 24% of the MBAs took jobs with tech firms, up four full percentage points from last year’s all-time high of 20%. A record 8% of Tuckies poured into health care, pharma and biotech companies, double the percentage just two years earlier and three percentage points over 5% last year.

“Tech is continuing its upward march and that trend is certainly aligned with student interests,” says Pidgeon, who assumed the top job in career development this past summer with the departure of Jonathan Masland. The tech surge has seen growing numbers of Tuck grads head west. This year, 23% of the class took jobs on the West Coast, split fairly evenly between the San Francisco Bay Area and Seattle.

That is the same percentage as last year in part because several members of the Class of 2018 opted to take offers from tech firms in the Boston metro area. “We’re seeing lot of the Northeast-based tech companies, including TripAdvisor and WayFair, hire our MBAs,” adds Pidgeon.


A former McKinsey & Co. consultant who worked in the healthcare industry, Pidgeon says he is not surprised by the increase in popularity of that sector with Tuck MBAs. “For one, it’s a good industry offering a lot of MBA opportunities,” he says. “A lot of these companies re willing to take on MBAs who haven’t been in the industry before.”

For the first time ever, moreover, the tech industry hired more Tuck graduates than financial services which employed 20% of the class. Only five years ago, in 2013, financial services hired the most Tuckies, then employing 30% of the school’s MBA graduates (see chart below). Back then, the tech industry accounted for just 13% of the placements, while consulting hired 27% of the class.

But the fallen interest in finance may be short-lived. Looking ahead to both the internship and full-time market next year, Pidgeon says he is seeing increased interest in investment banking among students. “Ever since the financial crisis (in 2008-2009), the value proposition isn’t been there for many MBA students. But that has changed and investment banking is also an industry that is still open to hiring international students.”


In publishing 2018 employment data, Tuck also noted that 96% of the class reported job offers within three months of graduation, up from 95% last year, while 93% accepted their offers, also up a percent over a year earlier.

There was little difference in the employment stats for interational students who have been trailing their domestic classmates in job offers at other peer schools. Tuck said 94% of non-U.S. graduates had offers three months after commencement, compared to 97% of U.S. citizens. Some 90% of the school’s international MBAs accepted their offers in that same timeframe versus 93% for U.S. grads.

Responding to student requests, Pidgeon said the school is setting aside a week and one-half break in classes in early January so students can focus purely on interviews for internships.

Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.