The Foster School of Business at the University of Washington did not reach 100% MBA employment for its latest graduating class in 2019. But the fact that it might have tells you all you need to know. Because even though Washington Foster took the tiniest of steps back, it was so far ahead that it still notched the best mark of any B-school in the U.S. News top 50 (or the Poets&Quants top 25 — see below).
And it wasn’t close.
Slipping from last year’s incredible mark of 99.1%, Washington Foster reported that 98.9% of Class of 2019 MBAs found work three months after finishing their degrees, well ahead of the next closest school, the University of Virginia Darden School of Business (96.3%). They were followed by the University of Michigan Ross School of Business (96%), Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business (95.7%), Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management (95.5%), and USC Marshall School of Business (95.2%). The latter school is among the biggest improvers in the entire newly released U.S. News & World Report ranking of top U.S. MBA programs.
MOST TOP 25 SCHOOLS SEE INCREASE IN 3-MONTH EMPLOYMENT RATE SINCE 2015
Looking at P&Q‘s top 25 schools — which, taken as a group, are nearly identical to U.S. News‘ — 11 schools have seen their 90-day employment numbers drop over the last two years, one school is even, and 13 schools are up. That’s a slightly worse picture than the previous two-year window (2017 and 2018), when only seven schools were down, two even, and 16 up.
Bigger picture? In the last five years, seven schools are in negative territory in the all-important three-month employment metric, while the vast majority, 18, are positive. The biggest jump in that span: USC’s Marshall School of Business, which improved the most among P&Q top 25 schools after climbing from 81% in 2015 to 95.2%, a 17.5% improvement. And the biggest drop? UNC’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, which lost -7.7% of its total to fall to 87% MBA employment at 90 days.
At the top, as it has been each year since 2017, is Washington Foster.
“Foster has a long tradition of excellence in teaching and this is what we hear from our employers,” says Naomi Sanchez, assistant dean of MBA career management and corporate recruiting. “We now have several MBA classes with graduates working in global companies inside and outside of this region in a variety of strategic positions in strategy, marketing, finance, and operations. Our students are prepared for the complexities and unexpected things that can happen such as what we are facing today.”
Will coronavirus disrupt the recruitment season at the most successful recruiting campus in graduate business education?
“Our students are great talent for global growing and thriving businesses,” Sanchez tells P&Q. “In the face of uncertainty given the virus, we do have a highly experienced, trained, and focused career team with strong ties to the business community and recruiters to help our students transition into jobs and experience career success.
“In the spirit of innovation that Dean Hodge speaks about, our team is utilizing virtual tech tools such as Zoom, Teams, and a virtual career fair platform to insure we don’t fall back in activity level. We are and will be using these tools and others with companies and students when necessary.”
BEST PAY IS AT NO. 1 OR NO. 10 OR LATER
In U.S. News‘ new ranking, the top school for average starting pay — salary plus bonus — is No. 1 Wharton, at $172,016, followed by No. 10 NYU Stern ($168,291), co-No. 1 Stanford GSB ($168,226), No. 12 Dartmouth Tuck ($166,251), and No. 11 Virginia Darden ($165,292). In all, 12 schools in the top 25 of the new ranking report salaries above $160,000, and 17 above $150,000. Washington Foster, for all its recruiting bona fides, is not among the salary leaders, with an average of $145,115.
The lowest reported average starting pay at a top-50 school is $75,869 at the University of Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business, ranked 41st. The Manderson School is one of only three schools in the top 50 with only five-figure starting pay, the other two being Arizona Eller ($94,084), ranked 46th, and Utah Eccles ($97,627), 48th. (See pages 2 and 3 for tables with average starting pay and employment data for the U.S. News top 50.)
In the less-important but still commonly reported figure for MBAs employed at graduation time, Virginia Darden is the top school at 89.9%, followed by Michigan Ross (87.5%), Chicago Booth (87.2%), Emory Goizueta (86.5%), and Washington Foster (86.2%).