Approaching The Harvard Business School Essay

Want to Make a $131K Salary? Move Here.

If you have a graduate degree – such as an MBA – and are looking to maximize your salary potential, you may want to move out West.

According to a report released by Grand Canyon University, which determines the best cities for PhD holders, San Jose, California and San Francisco, California ranked as the top two cities where graduate degree holders earn the most. In San Jose, the median salary for graduate degree holders is $131,291. In San Francisco, it’s $113,098.


To conduct the study, the authors compared the 50 largest U.S. metropolitan areas across a variety of criteria (listed below) and weighted each:

  • Population 25 years old and over with graduate degrees (Factor Weight: 2.75)
  • Livability (Factor Weight: 2.50)
  • Cost of living (Factor Weight: 2.50)
  • Median salary of graduate degree holders (Factor Weight: 3.00)
  • Percentage more graduate degree holders make compared to city average (Factor Weight: 3.25)
  • Unemployment rate (Factor Weight: 2.00)
  • Access to arts and culture (Factor Weight: 2.00)
  • Leisure opportunities (Factor Weight: 2.00)


According to numbers published by the National Association of Colleges and Employers, the average starting salary for MBA grads in the class of 2021 is projected to be $87,966 – nearly 11% higher than the average starting salary among 2020 grads.

Looking closer at industry salaries for MBA’s, it seems that Media and Entertainment ranks the highest with a mean base salary of $136,667, according to data from UC Berkeley’s MBA program based on its 2018 class of graduates.

Technology ranked second in Berkeley’s study with graduates earning mean base salary of $132,784 – a number that aligns closely to Grand Canyon University’s report of median salary for graduate degree holders in San Jose – a city that’s run by tech.

Check out the full Grand Canyon University report here.

Sources: Grand Canyon University, UC Berkeley



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