12 Charts That Tell The Wharton MBA Story

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia

What are the actual rewards of a Wharton MBA degree?

Is it worth it? What kind of work do graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School actually do once they are armed with the MBA credential?

In just 12 charts and tables, you’ll get a glimpse behind the curtain of what a Wharton MBA truly gets you. Each table or chart tells a story and often one that surprises.

Did you know, for example, that Amazon and Google are now among the top five recruiters at Wharton, even employing more of the school’s latest MBA grads than any bulge bracket bank or private equity firm? Or that McKinsey & Co. was replaced by one of its rival MBB firms as the number one employer of Wharton’s Class of 2020? Do you know how much money Wharton graduates make in their first jobs and how that has changed over the years? Or do you know which industries Wharton MBAs find most attractive now compared to 20 years ago?

For one thing, you would never be able to guess the fastest growing industry choice of Wharton MBAs over the past two decades. And you would have a hard time estimating the highest salaries landed by Wharton MBAs straight out of school over the last ten years.

There’s more, much more, information in the charts and tables below. But one by one, the story of the value and worth of a Wharton MBA comes through loud and clear.

Deciphering the total median compensation of a Wharton MBA used to be an easy task because at one time the school was eager to disclose every single detail of pay, including reimbursement of tuition and relocation allowances. Back in 2005, for example, the school disclosed that 59.7% of its graduates received median relocation fees of $10,000, wile 7.1% of the MBAs saw median tuition reimbursements of $40,000 (and that was when tuition was much lower!). In more recent years, Wharton's employment reports have gotten positively skimpy. Last year, for example, the school did not report the percentage of graduates receiving guaranteed first-year bonuses, among many other details of pay. Nevertheless, the comp continues to go up and we've estimated some of these numbers based on historical trends at Wharton and other peer schools.

Carefully examine Wharton's employment reports over the years and one thing becomes pretty clear: the industry that pays Wharton MBAs the highest median base salaries tends to be private equity. That makes total sense because PE firms, which hire very few MBA graduates, tend to pay big at Stanford and Harvard as well. Yet, there are surprises. Last year, for example, venture capital paid the highest median bases at $171,500, and in 2005, internet services actually paid the most: $117,500. And in 2015 and 2000, consulting anted up, matching the high median salary levels of PE firms in 2015, both at $140,000, or of venture capital players in 2000, at $100,000 each.

You might think that an MBA from Wharton pretty much guarantees that you're going to get a job immediately--by graduation or shortly thereafter. But no business school is completed immune from the ups and down of the overall economy. So while the percentage of the graduating class that has at least one job offer three months after graduation is high at Wharton--almost always in the mid-to-high 90s--there have been some tough years. In 2010, for example, 12% of the graduates still hadn't received a single job offer three months after commencement. Last year, in the midst of the pandemic, the job offer rate was 93.5%, down from 98.4% in 2015.

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