It’s not what you know, it’s who you know.
…And maybe where you live.
Right place, right time, right people. That’s always been a formula for success. You’ll always find MBAs heading to where the action is. For aspiring bankers, that means chasing down a studio apartment in the Big Apple. Entrepreneurs? Feel free to indulge your inner weird in Austin — Stetsons and Birkenstocks both welcome. While Silicon Valley and Seattle are revered as tech Meccas, you can’t go wrong in Raleigh, Atlanta, or Denver, either.
In the wake of COVID-19, location can seem outdated. Just get a Wi-Fi connection and you can run your fledgling empire from Boise, right? In theory, the internet is the great equalizer, the forum that brings like-minded people together. In reality, out of sight is still out of mind; the chat room lacks the urgency of the conference room. There is something ineffable about being together every day in person that elevates all involved. There is a shared experience that connects people, setting a tone, stirring ideas, and reinforcing mission along the way.
STANFORD BELOVED ACROSS THE COUNTRY
Despite Delta delays, MBAs are streaming back into the office. For many, that means re-locating. It is a career-changing decision, one that will dictate professional opportunities and relationships. That makes it a factor that MBAs must carefully weigh when choosing their next employer. That’s also why business schools collect and share their regional pay data with prospective candidates.
…Well, not always.
This year, several programs declined to share their data with U.S. News & World Report. This includes five Top 30 programs: Wharton School, MIT Sloan, Columbia Business School, Cornell Johnson, and Emory Goizueta — with Columbia and Cornell abdicating for the second consecutive year. The data collected focuses exclusively on base pay for new MBA graduates. Why so narrow? For one, sign-on bonuses only count for one year, artificially boosting the compensation packages for newly-minted MBAs. At the same time, inducements such as reimbursements, stock options, and 401K allowances are often customized by company (not to mention ever-changing).
In terms of pure base, one school tops all others in Class of 2020 earnings: Stanford Graduate School of Business. In the United States, Stanford GSB MBAs earned the highest average bases in five out of six regions. This includes its high ($182,843 in the Northeast) and low ($157,500 in the Southwest). Stanford GSB also boasts the highest base conferred to any individual student: $400,000 (West). In fact, the Mid-Atlantic was the only region where Stanford GSB didn’t top its peer schools. That’s because it placed too few students in the region, leaving Chicago Booth ($165,278) to take honors here.
A MEANS OF COMPARING SCHOOLS
Indeed, a school’s absence in a region can serve as a red flag to MBA candidates. Take the University of Texas-Dallas’ Jindal School, which ranked 31st in this year’s U.S. News ranking. Over the past two years, it hasn’t reported pay in the Northeast, Mid-Atlantic, South, or Midwest regions. Instead, pay data has been limited to the Southwest and West. Translation: Jindal may lack the same alumni reach in those regions as peer schools, which could potentially hinder student networking.
That said, regional pay stats have their limitations. Notably, Regional pay don’t account for clusters of higher-paying companies or industries in particular areas (i.e. Banking on the East Coast and Technology on the West Coast). In addition, you’re likely to find variations in different regions, with bases in Chicago likely to eclipse pay in Des Moines or Omaha.
Still, Regional Pay acts as a starting point to compare offers against market rates. How much base pay did 2020 MBA grads from your favorite business schools average in particular regions? What were the high and low bases they collected? How have these numbers changed over the past five years? Click on the links below so you can compare MBA programs side-by-side in various regions (including International).