What MBA Interns Made Last Year & What They Probably Aren’t Making Now

Hey MBA interns. How’s your summer going so far? We know that many of you haven’t started your internships yet, while some of you may not work this summer at all. Some of you have truncated internships, and some virtual, or partly so. What’s unclear, though, is how much you’ll make, if and when you do clock in. Our guess — and it is a guess, because we won’t know for certain until B-schools begin releasing employment reports in the fall: It will be less than your colleagues made last year.

What Poets&Quants normally does with a story like this is examine the previous year’s numbers to get a sense of what is going on NOW. Given all that is going on, that may not produce the insights it has in past years, but in the absence of a better plan, we are going to do it anyway. Maybe we will all get a big surprise and find out employers were just as generous in the Coronavirus Summer of 2020 as they were in blissfully pandemic-free years past.

Besides providing insights into what this summer’s MBA interns are likely not getting in terms of salaries, last year’s internship numbers also may indicate employment parameters for 2020 grads: Where are more people going into consulting? Which schools have seen a surge in tech? Then again, even those little windows may not be a reliable forecast when it comes to the effect this most unusual year will have on 2021, 2022, and thereafter. Nonetheless, in the belief that all data is instructive in one way or another, we carry on.


Beth Briggs, NYU Stern assistant dean of career services. Courtesy photo

One thing is certain: The money always goes up. Among the top 25 U.S. B-schools in Poets&Quants‘ ranking, monthly median salaries for MBA interns rose between 2018 and 2019, with increases ranging from a paltry 1% to an astounding 20%, the latter at The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, which also reported the largest median monthly salary of any school: $10,400.

The numbers always go up? Except when they don’t. That’s what happened last year at three schools: Yale School of Management stayed flat at $8,000; Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business dipped negligibly by 0.1% to $6,933; but UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business, the No. 8 school in the country, saw its median intern wage drop 10%, from $8,000 to $7,200.

Haas is an outlier in both the top 25 and the top 10. It has the smallest median monthly intern salary of any top-10 school, at $7,200, well below the average for the top 10 of $8,770. The other nine schools in the top 10 averaged 8.8% year-over-year salary growth, buoyed by Wharton’s 20% and 12% or greater at the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, MIT Sloan School of Management, and Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business. In the M7, the average median salary is $8,995, and the schools experienced 9.6% growth. (See page 2 for complete intern salary data for the top 25 U.S. B-schools.)


Looking back to ancient history (2015), we see that intern salaries have gone a bit flat in the last five years, but some schools have bucked the trend, NYU’s Stern School of Business, which saw a better-than-25% increase between 2015 and 2018, the most of any leading B-school (the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business was close behind at 25% salary growth). Between 2018 and 2019, Stern’s MBA intern pay growth continued, rising 8.6% to make NYU the only other school in the top 25 after Wharton to reach the $10,000 threshold in monthly salary. Stern is also one of the schools doing the most to help its beleaguered interns this summer, as we discuss in more detail below.

In 2018, only one U.S. B-school cracked the $9,000 threshold for median monthly MBA intern salary: NYU Stern. In 2019, there were seven, and two others that were only $23 short. However, the pace of salary growth has slowed — albeit very slightly. Overall for the top 25 U.S. schools, the average salary growth in 2018 was 8.9%. Last summer it fell to 8.6%. As usual, the highest salaries are in finance, followed by consulting.

Intern placement (see page 3) is often a forecast of the next graduating class’s employment report. In 2019, a few schools saw some interesting movement — but none more than Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business, which experienced big changes in its top three industries, with consulting climbing from 16% to 22%, finance dropping from 18% to 11%, and tech — which has long ruled the roost in Pittsburgh — climbing from 31.6% to 39%. Other big tech rumblings came at Duke University Fuqua School of Business, which increased the percentage of its interns in tech from 6% in 2018 to 28% last year, and at Stanford Graduate School of Business, which saw a decline from 37% to 30% in that span.


In consulting, MIT Sloan School of Management saw a jump from 20% to 29%, while the University of Michigan Ross School of Business (20.5% to 28%) and Georgetown University McDonough School of Business (17% to 26%) also saw big jumps, and UC-Berkeley Haas dropped from 24% to 17%. In finance, Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management saw a notable decline, from 44% to 36%, and the Haas School saw a significant increase, from 14% to 19%. In healthcare, Indiana Kelley’s share of interns grew from 10.5% to 19% in one year.

Only a select number of schools list actual employers and how many interns they employ. One of them is Northwestern Kellogg; by far the biggest employer of summer hires out of Kellogg’s MBA program is Boston Consulting Group, which last summer hired 42. The next biggest were McKinsey & Company (23) and Amazon (23), followed by Bain & Company (19) and Deloitte (13). At Columbia Business School, Amazon is the top intern employer with 18 last summer, followed by BCG (17), Goldman Sachs (16), and Google and McKinsey at 15 each. At NYU Stern, J.P. Morgan Chase and McKinsey led the way with 16 interns apiece, followed by Amazon (15), Deloitte (14), and BCG and Credit Suisse at a dozen each.

Seeing the ground fall away at the feet of so many of their (and their peers’) interns, many of the top B-schools have acted to mitigate the damage. At NYU Stern, SternWorks, a joint effort of the Office of Career Development and Office of Student Engagement (the latter of which leads Stern’s experiential learning efforts), gives full-time MBA students a summer experience who don’t otherwise have one lined up — or whose internship was delayed or truncated. The school tells P&Q that the program helps students build skills while giving back to its community — which was hit harder by the pandemic than any other in the U.S.


SternWorks is a testament to quick-thinking innovation. In the early weeks of the coronavirus shutdown that closed campuses around the globe, Stern’s Board of Overseers, alumni, business community contacts, faculty, and students partnered on developing the program, and in just three weeks the school had secured more than 100 projects and raised more than $600,000 to support MBAs this summer. The numbers continue to grow as students work with small business owners, VCs in a startup phase, nonprofits, B-corp, and impact investment firms in a kind of innovation sprint to restart the New York economy.

At the University of Michigan, the Ross School has put together a Business Consultant Corps to help its students. The program, with $5,000 stipends funded by the school, allows students to work directly with executives from sponsoring organizations on projects related to business strategy, digital transformation, marketing, and operations. “Industry-wide, a number of students have had internships affected by the pandemic and I was struck by a recent study where 64% of students having internships were canceled and had no alternative in place,” Ross School Dean Scott DeRue told Poets&Quants in May. “Most of our internships are happening. But they are all virtual and they may be modified by the timing or duration of them. We wanted to mobilize to support students who were affected by the pandemic or wanted an alternative plan.”

In April, UC-Berkeley’s Haas School launched the MBA Summer Internship Stimulus Fund, which provides $5,000 stipends to students to help cover basic needs like rent and living expenses. The stipends are awarded on a rolling basis to continuing MBA students who qualify. “Ultimately we want all of our MBA students seeking internships to have a great experience and we believe this fund will help,” said Abby Scott, assistant dean of career management & corporate partnerships.

Of course, all business schools want to see their MBAs do well in the all-important summer between their first and second years. It’s a source of pride. As NYU Stern Assistant Dean of Career Services Beth Briggs told P&Q last year: “We are very proud of our summer internship outcomes.”

See the next pages for a complete breakdown of salary and placement data for the top 25 U.S. business schools. 

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