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Big Jump In Median Pay For Wharton Class of 2019 MBAs

Wharton’s 2019 jobs report shows continued strong job placement, with more than 98% of MBAs reporting job offers and more than 93% accepting them. Wharton photo

It’s good to be a Wharton MBA.

That’s the inescapable lesson from the latest jobs report out of the University of Pennsylvania’s business school, released today (October 23), which shows that the median base salary for Class of 2019 MBAs is $150,000, up more than 11% from last year’s $135,000. More than 98% of the 664 Wharton MBAs who were seeking work reported receiving job offers, and more than 93% reported accepting them.

“We’re pleased at the high rates of success our students have achieved across such a diverse set of roles and industries post-graduation,” says Michelle Hopping, director of MBA career management for the Wharton School. “One of the assets of Wharton is the continued strength of the resources and the network that help students land in industries, functions, and geographies across the board.”

However, once again this year, Wharton’s jobs report is thin on details, especially compared to its peer schools. Wharton fails to divulge such commonly disclosed stats as median signing bonus or the percentage of graduates who received that bonus, or the job offer and job placement rates of international graduates. Wharton also does not distinguish between job offers and acceptances at graduation or three months later. Two years ago, the median sign-on bonus at Wharton was $25,000, received by 77.2% of the class; last year, after publication of our story on its 2018 jobs report, Wharton disclosed to Poets&Quants that median sign-on bonus remained the same at $25,000, while the percentage of students receiving signing bonuses declined to 74.4%. The school also disclosed that other guaranteed bonus in 2018 was a median $30,000, but failed to reveal what percentage of the class reported on this metric of pay.

If those numbers were unchanged, the median starting pay package for a Wharton MBA in 2019 would be upward of $175,000 — with certain industries like consulting, private equity, and professional services — paying much more.


Despite the gaps, the Wharton jobs report offers a clear picture of the benefits of owning an MBA from the school ranked No. 1 by P&Q and U.S. News (though only fifth in the latest Forbes ranking of programs’ ROI). For one thing, the 2019 jobs report is possibly Wharton’s most accurate, since its response rate is tied for highest-ever at 95%.

In the last three years, as a slump in applications has gripped even the most elite MBA programs, Wharton MBAs in consulting jobs have earned almost 12% more, now with a median base salary of $165,000; in financial services jobs, they have earned 15.4% more, now at $150,000; and in tech they have earned 8% more, to $135,000. As Michelle Hopping says, “The increase in median base salary was driven primarily by competition in the market and employers raising the bar on compensation across consulting, financial services, and technology.” However, not all fields saw improvement. Consumer products/retail is still down from its 2017 high of $120,000, manufacturing has slipped from $130,000 to $125,000, and real estate is up only incrementally.

Overall employment rate, meanwhile, has ticked upward to 98.5% from 98.4% in 2018 (and 97.1% in 2017). Consulting arrested its decline and stands at a quarter of the graduating class, 25.1%, much like last year, while financial services ticked downward to 35.8% from 36.9%, showing that Wharton may never quite return to the halcyon days before the Great Recession when finance jobs made up nearly half of all MBA employment each year. Also down: healthcare, real estate, and media/entertainment. Tech is exactly the same as last year: 14.9%.

One of the areas that saw a major jump was venture capital job placements, to the highest number to date: 4.2%, up from just 1.7% last year and 1.2% in 2017. That’s a 147% jump in one year, and a 250% increase since 2017. However, it comes with a caveat: Venture capital median base salary dropped $25,000 from 2018, to $150,000.

“This year, venture capital hired students in greater numbers thanks to a historically strong environment for investment and fundraising in the market, combined with the support of the school across career management, student clubs, and other programs,” Hopping says.


The vast majority of Wharton MBAs stay in the United States to work: 87.7%, which, remarkably, is down slightly from last year’s percentage (88.3%). By far the most (39.3%, down from 42.7% in 2018) work in the Northeast, particularly New York City, where the school has deep and longstanding connections with the finance industry. More than a quarter — 26.1% — work in the West, up from 23.2% last year. The highest median salary, however, is reported by the 4.7% who accepted work in the Southwest: $161,000. Internationally, of the 13% working overseas, most (7.1%) found work in Asia, while 3.4% went to work in Europe. Salaries for Wharton MBAs who went abroad lag behind their domestic counterparts.

Wharton 2019 employment report

For 798 Class of 2020 MBA students, the median monthly internship salary was $10,400. Consulting interns (15.6%) pulled in the most, $13,500, while finance interns (35.9%) made a median $10,400. Tech interns (16.2%) made $8,400 per month; healthcare interns (7%) made $7,858.