Employment Rate Bounces Back For Michigan Ross MBAs

Michigan Ross released its 2019 employment report and it shows more of the school’s MBAs turning toward consulting and away from tech. Michigan Ross photo

Tick, tick, tick. At the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, some key MBA employment metrics tick upward, and some tick downward. Median salaries, which rose slightly overall and more than slightly in a few industries, are among the data points to incrementally improve in the newly released Ross School employment report. Median sign-on bonuses, however, were another story.

Perhaps the biggest news in the report, released Thursday (October 17), is that MBAs in the Class of 2019 drove a rebound from a two-year downturn in job offers received three months after graduation. Of this year’s grads, 97.2% got offers 90 days after collecting their degrees, up from 93.8% in 2018 and close to the school record 98.4% set in 2016. It’s a 2.8% improvement in one year, largely attributable to the fact that the number of hiring companies was up significantly: Around the world, 148 companies hired Ross MBAs in 2019, a 17% increase from the previous year. Ross also saw employment offers at graduation rise to 95.9% from 92.4%, and set a record this year in job acceptances after three months, at 96%.

Consulting cemented itself in 2019 as the main industry of choice for Ross MBAs: About one-third, 32%, went to work there, up from 30.1% last year and right back to the percentage who went into consulting in 2017. Interestingly, one of the industries pulling back from hiring Michigan MBAs — or that they are pulling back from — is tech. In 2018, we wrote that tech was challenging consulting for top destination status among Ross MBAs; but this year tech slipped from 27.1% to 21.6%, a 20.3% decline.

“The industries and companies with whom our students choose to pursue full-time employment varies from year to year,” Heather Byrne, managing director of the Career Development Office at Michigan Ross, tells Poets&Quants. “Ross students had a lot of great opportunities presented to them this year, and the changes in industry outcomes reflect that. Moreover, the number of companies hiring Ross MBA grads increased substantially this year. We are really proud and excited about where our MBAs landed this year.”


Heather Byrne. Courtesy photo

Median base salaries rose slightly for Michigan Ross MBAs again in 2019, to $129,000, a 3.2% increase. They rose most for financial services jobs, to $150,000 from $125,000, a 20% jump. However, they actually fell in two industries: slightly in consumer packaged goods, and considerably in tech, which dropped from $130,000 to $122,650, a 5.7% decline. 

The salary range was tighter and lower this year than last, with the lowest individual salaries $50,000 in “other” and $58,000 in manufacturing, and the highest $180,000, which someone who took a job in finance in Boston pulled down. The high end of last year’s range was $243,000 for someone who went into financial services in the Midwest. This year’s tech range is $80K-$154K; compare that to last year’s range: $73K-$158K. 

“We are always very happy when salaries improve for our graduates,” Byrne says. “We believe this outcome reflects the strong market for hiring talented and highly qualified Ross MBAs.”

Tech may have dipped, but top hirers of Ross MBAs include Amazon, Microsoft, Google, and Uber, in addition to McKinsey, Bain, and Pepsi. Most Ross MBAs go to work in the Midwest (34.6%), especially Chicago (21.9%), with a healthy portion choosing the West (23.1%) and the Northeast (18%).  

“The outcomes for both domestic and international students are really strong,” Byrne says. “In fact, international students had a higher median signing bonus ($28.5k) compared to domestic ($25k). Beyond receiving high salaries, our international students are getting jobs at the most sought-after employers. Our employment data is really showing it’s a great time to be a Michigan Ross MBA grad regardless of where you come from.”


Both job offers and salaries lag slightly for international Ross MBAs. For U.S. citizens and permanent residents, 95.9% had received offers by graduation and 97.3% by three months after; for foreign students those numbers are, respectively, 83.5% and 95.4%. Similarly, 90.1% of domestic students had accepted offers by cap-and-gown time, and 96.7% three months later; those levels were 81.7% and 94.5% of foreign nationals, respectively. Likewise base salaries: U.S. MBAs earned a median $130,000 to foreign MBAs’ $125,000, and a mean $131,185 to $124,389.

Then there ’s the matter of signing bonuses, one of the few areas where foreign students outpaced their U.S. colleagues, with a median $28,500 to $25,000 and a mean $32,826 to $29,862. However, the overall picture on signing bonuses is not particularly rosy for Ross. Median bonuses overall slipped $5,000 to 2017 levels, $25,000. Bonuses grew most in retail, from $15,000 to $25,000, a 66.7% rise; and in financial services, where they increased by 18.8%, from $40,000 to $47,500. Tech was one of two industries where they shrank, from $40,000 to $35,000; CPG was the other, from $35,000 to $30,000. Signing bonuses were flat everywhere else.

Meanwhile, an interesting upheaval occurred in internships in this year’s report. Tech had been king, but no longer, shrinking from 24.7% of internships to 22.1%, a 10.5% decline. At the same time, consulting rocketed into first place, up to 28.1% from 20.5%, a 37.1% increase.

“Consulting has always been a top interest for our students, and we do a great job preparing them to go into this field,” Byrne says. “Companies tend to hire from their internship pool, and we’re pleased to see a strong pipeline for Ross students from internships to full-time offers in consulting.”

See the next page for more tables and employment data for 2019 Michigan Ross MBAs.

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