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Tech Record In The Rearview, Duke MBAs Set New Benchmarks

A record 28% of Duke Fuqua Class of 2018 MBAs found jobs in the technology sector. How did their successors fare? Duke photo

Last year the big story in the employment report for Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business was the surge in tech hiring that brought the sector to within 4 percentage points of overtaking consulting, long the leading destination for Blue Devil MBAs. Led by Amazon’s hiring of 21 Duke MBAs, tech jumped nearly 50% in one year, to 28% of the total Class of 2018. Consulting, meanwhile, was flat at 32%, right around where it had been the previous three years.

According to Duke Fuqua’s 2019 jobs report, released today (November 26), consulting still hasn’t budged, staying flat at 32%. Yet the tech takeover hasn’t occurred, with tech slipping to 23% and finance, instead, enjoying a surge of its own to 20% from last year’s 16%.

But while the tech record is in the rearview (for now), the new employment report has other bright spots for Duke, in particular job offers and acceptances, both of which set records this year, notes Sheryle Dirks, associate dean of Fuqua’s Career Management Center. Within three months of graduation, 97% of Fuqua MBAs received jobs offers, up from 96% last year, and 95% accepted, up from 94%.

“There is a lot of good news across a number of dimensions,” Dirks tells Poets&Quants. “The percentages of employed, for us, are all-time highs. I’ve been with Fuqua for 20 years and those are the highest numbers we’ve ever had.”


Sheryle Dirks. Duke photo

Those weren’t the only school records set in the new Duke Fuqua jobs report. More came in the salary categories. reported by 88% of the class’s 371 who had accepted jobs, is $135,397 this year, up from $127,874 in 2018; average signing bonus, reported by 79%, is $32,577, down from $33,202 but up from $30,374 two years ago. Median starting salaries were also up, to $135,725 from $125,000, while median sign-on bonus is $30,000, same as last year.

The high salary is $325,000, reported by a U.S. citizen in private equity/venture capital; the low is $45,000, reported by a non-citizen in general marketing. The top bonus is $150,000.

“Salaries are up — the median salary is up over 8% from last year,” Dirks says.

The total compensation average, excluding other guaranteed pay which Duke does not report, was adjusted to account for the percentage of students reporting sign-on bonuses. The average is $161,133, up from $155,100, an increase of 3.9%. The median is $159,425, up from $149,600 in 2018, an increase of 6.6%.

Consulting has the highest median and mean salaries, at $150,500 and $150,986, respectively. Finance is next with $150,000 and $143,235, and techies report $130,250 and $127,389.


Elite B-schools have struggled in recent years with lower application volume that in part stems from decreased interest among foreign prospects in studying in the U.S. Some signs of that struggle peek through the data in Duke Fuqua’s new report. Case in point: 95% of grads with permanent work authorization reported starting base salary, and 84% reported sign-on bonuses. But only 86% of those without permanent work authorization reported salary numbers, and only 67% of those students reported receiving bonuses.

A closer comparison is impossible, however. Last year we reported that Fuqua’s international grads trailed their U.S. counterparts in landing employment, with some 94% of students with permanent work authorization getting job offers at graduation versus 80% of internationals, a 14-point gap, two points higher than the gap in 2017. Three months after graduation, the gap had shrunk in half to 7 points, with 91% of international students reporting job offers versus 98% of domestics. This year Duke has opted not to break down offers and acceptances for domestic versus international students, perhaps indicating that the numbers are unlikely to help the school in its quest to boost its foreign student applications. (Overall, applications to Duke Fuqua were down 14.6% this year and are down 20% in the last three cycles, with the decline in international interest pegged as the primary culprit.)

“It is very much a real issue at all business schools and Fuqua is not immune from that,” Dirk told P&Q last year as the gap between domestic and foreign applications had grown to troubling proportions. “It just takes international students much longer to get a job in the U.S., and many will choose to exhaust their U.S. options first before accepting a job back in their home country. There is a gap, but what I will also say is that you will see that every year. If we were to look at a six-month timeline, my guess is that the playing field will have been leveled. The narrative about this topic is increasingly prevalent, which is a good thing because it raises awareness and empathy.”