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Harvard Business School MBAs earn the most over a 20-year career

8) The Most Lucrative Seven-Figure MBA Degrees: It isn’t hard to find MBA pay…for new grads. After all, business schools publish it in their employment reports. Of course, P&Q collects and publishes it too. We even splice it up by industry and region. Mind you, that’s all first-year pay and bonus – the short-term picture. What kind of earnings can MBA expect over, say, 20 years? Well, no one had ever calculated that…until Poets&Quants came around in 2014.

That summer, P&Q formed a partnership with PayScale, which houses salary data for over 1.5 million professionals. Taking a deep dive into their profiles and data, PayScale was able to crunch earnings from MBA graduates. The big winner? Harvard Business School, of course. Their grads pulled down $3,233,000 over a 20-year timeframe. The big surprise? Boston University punched well above its rank, with grads raking in $2,329,000 in their first 20 years after graduation. That was good for 19th-best on the list.

Best of all, these numbers are conservative estimates, writes John Byrne. “They do not include stock-based compensation of any kind, the cash value of retirement benefits, or other non-cash benefits, such as health care. The estimates are for base salary, cash bonuses, and profit sharing in today’s dollars over a 20-year period from 1994 to 2014. They are not a projection of future earnings.”

Maybe the biggest takeaway from the data: The MBA is a sure-fire investment – particularly top-tier programs. For example, MBA graduates from the ‘Big Three’ – Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton – collected $3,011, 000 in earnings over 20 years according to PayScale. A Bachelor’s degree? Cut it in a half (and then some) to $1,301,000.

9) Social Entrepreneurship: The Best Schools & Programs: ‘You can make money or you can do good. You can’t do both.’

Yeah, professionals dream of fusing work with purpose. These days, it is increasingly possible for ambitious MBAs to do more than invent another dating app or custom brew. The code has been cracked, thanks to examples like TOMS to Grameen Bank. As a result, MBAs are increasingly applying business tools to address social issues, serve the communities, and fill gaps. Not only are they generating activity, but they are producing value, providing the underserved with education and career paths – not to mention identity and meaning.

Yes, the ‘Doing well by doing good’ spirit has become a cultural touchstone in business schools. In 2010, it was treated as a fad in some corners. That’s one reason why John Byrne delved into the programming of the top MBA programs. The result: He published a groundbreaking look at social entrepreneurship offerings at eight MBA programs, including Harvard Business School, Wharton, Stanford GSB, and Michigan Ross. At the same time, the story outlined the differentiating features of each social enterprise program, including electives, centers, clubs, certificates, competitions, and fellowships.

The story was ahead of its time – and sweeping in scope. Long story short: it has served as a reference to MBAs for the rest of the decade – to the tune of over 400,000 views. It was tell-tale proof, in the words of John Byrne, that the MBA could become a “springboard into the social sector.”

10) The Best One-Year MBA Programs: Faster and cheaper. That’s the appeal of the one-year MBA program. Lower tuition, expenses, and debt. Quicker ROI. Reduced opportunity cost. Yes, one-year MBAs return to the job sooner, but that momentum comes at a cost. There are fewer opportunities to network, explore different fields, or assume leadership roles. Internships are non-starters, of course. Then, there is the bit about how intense squeezing two years of learning into a year can be – a sentiment that can be summed up by Ginger Rogers’ famous quote about dancing with Fred Astaire.

“I did everything he did, but backwards and in high heels.”

In this environment, John Byrne tackled the one-year topic in 2012. Here, Byrne again profiled the top eight programs, including Northwestern Kellogg, Cornell Johnson, Emory Goizueta, USC Marshall, and Notre Dame Mendoza. To help readers compare costs between 1-year and 2-year offerings, he broke down tuition, room and board, supplies, and fees for each. In addition, Byrne crunched lost income and loan interest for both so readers received the true cost of an MBA.

Since then, the story has attracted over 375K views. It has also inspired regular updates, with the latest published last September. In the end, the story resonated because it catered to a smaller segment that was sometimes ignored – and developed critical mass from there.

Here are 15 more stories that fell just outside P&Q’s most-read stories from 2010-2020:

Stanford Confidential: Sex, Lies And Loathing At The World’s No. 1 B-School

You Won’t Believe Who Harvard Business School Just Rejected

What Are the M7 Business Schools?

Stanford GSB Cruises Into First In P&Q’s 2019-2020 MBA Ranking

Handicapping Your Odds Of Getting Into A Great School

Poets&Quants’ Top 100 U.S. MBA Programs of 2012

Harvard MBA Essay Examples

Harvard & Wharton Tie for 2018’s #1 MBA Program

Chicago’s Booth vs. Northwestern’s Kellogg School

Wharton Dislodges Harvard To Top 2017 P&Q MBA Ranking

Harvard Business School Tops New 2015 Poets&Quants’ MBA Ranking

Average GRE Scores At Top 50 Business Schools

The Best Paid MBA Concentrations

10 Things I Wish I’d Known Before My MBA

Can You Get Into HBS, Stanford, Wharton?


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