Chicago Booth’s 2021 Jobs Report Shows Big Bump In MBA Compensation

Chicago Booth MBAs in the Class of 2021 made nearly 5% more in total compensation than the previous class

It’s November — MBA employment report season. Among the Class of 2021 reports released by business schools so far, we have seen a predictable rebound from the trough of placement rates in 2020, and some “picking up where we left off in 2019” in other metrics. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, which has released its final jobs numbers, continues those trends — and offers interesting insights into career results at a top-five MBA program.

MBA students at Booth and other B-schools looking to the new report will find much to ease concerns they may have about residual effects of the pandemic on their employment prospects. That’s because placement rates 90 days after graduation were way up for Boothies this year, and pay — both overall median salary and median bonuses — grew significantly, leading to a nearly 5% bump in total compensation.

It’s not as if Booth grads were paid poorly in 2020. In fact, median base salary for the Class of 2020 grew by $5,000 from 2019, to $150,000. But bonuses were flat last year and total compensation — calculated based on the percentage of MBAs reporting bonuses — grew only 1.2%. This year, median salary grew another $5,000, to $155,000, with consulting — the top industry for Booth grads for the third straight year — up to $165,000 from $160K, and finance — once again the runner-up — growing even more, to $160,000 from $150K. Median bonuses grew to $35,000, led by $50K for finance grads and $40K for tech grads, powering an overall compensation total of $178,450, up 4.9% from a year ago.


In September, Poets&Quants reported that tech jobs were booming for MBAs graduating from the Booth School. That was according to the school's preliminary 2021 employment report. Now, in the school's final numbers, we learn that even more Booth MBAs went to work in tech than previously reported: 22.9% — still third place, but gaining rapidly.

Consulting is still king in Chicago, with 34.4% of Booth Class of 2021 MBAs finding work in that industry; finance is second, as it has been since 2019, at 27%. (Most of the latter was divided between three sub-categories: Investment banking/brokerage at 7.2%, diversified finance at 6.1%, and private equity at 6.8%.) But both totals represent slight declines from the preliminary report in September, and even more pronounced declines from 2020, when consulting and finance each eclipsed 30% of the class. Tech, curiously enough for the middle of a pandemic, was in a trough at 16% last year. No longer.

Booth's tech numbers warrant a bit more parsing. In 2019, the vast majority of Booth tech hires went to work in e-commerce and Internet companies (11.7% of the entire class), with software a distant second (4.6%), followed by hardware (1.7%). Those numbers were roughly in line with the year-earlier stats on tech, though e-commerce grads in 2018 accounted for 10.7% of the class. In 2020, as tech-bound grads dropped by nearly 17% to 16.3% of the class, the number of Booth MBAs taking e-commerce jobs fell to 8.8%; software, meanwhile, grew slightly to 4.8%.

This year, as tech jobs overall increased by more than 40%, e-commerce/Internet jobs bounced back to 13.5%, and software grew to 6.5% — at the expense of everything else: Every other field under the tech umbrella was sub-1%. Interestingly, this shift occurred as part old decline in tech pay, with overall median salary for Booth tech MBAs down to $133,000.

The top starting salary for a tech MBA out of Booth this year was $200K for someone in software. The top salary for any grad: $225K for someone in private equity. The lowest reported salary was $75K for someone in an undisclosed field.


Last year, as at peer schools, graduating Booth MBAs had a harder time than usual finding work. Booth’s job offers three months after graduation were down somewhat, to 92.8% from 96.3%, and job acceptances were also down, to 91.4% from 95.1%. This year 92.9% of Boothies had job offers at graduation, so basically the same, and 97.7% had offers at three months, a modest increase. The big jump occurred in acceptances, which grew to 96.4% this year.

Where do Booth grads go to work? Glad you asked. In 2019, the largest single group of graduating MBAs from Chicago Booth stayed in the Midwest (28.9%), with 26.1% taking jobs in Chicago. About 21.7% of the class headed to the West Coast, with 13.5% in the Bay Area, 6.1% in Seattle, and 2% in Los Angeles. A nearly equal percentage (21.3%) accepted jobs in the Northeast, mainly in New York, which accounted for 18% of the class. Last year, even more Boothies stayed local: 32.7% in the Midwest and 29.5% in Chicago. West Coast numbers were up, too: 24.6% headed for the coast, with 14.5% to the Bay Area, 6.2% to Seattle, and 3.7% to L.A. And New York got more Booth MBAs, as well: 22.6% went to the Northeast, including 18.9% to the Big Apple.

In 2021, the Midwest numbers were down to 29.6% (Chicago 27.2%); West numbers climbed again, to 26.8% (Bay Area 14.6%); and the Northeast dipped slightly to 21.8% (NYC 17.9%).

In 2019, some 12.8% of Booth MBAs assumed jobs outside the U.S., with 5% in Asia, 4.8% in Latin American and the Caribbean, and just 1.7% in Europe, mainly London, which accounted for 1.1% of the class. Last year, unsurprisingly given the turmoil involved in travel, the overall international employment number was way down, to 8.6%, with most Booth MBAs who did take jobs abroad going to Latin America and the Caribbean (3.7%), Asia (2.9%), and Europe (1.3%).

The recovery here is yet to occur, though 2022 is promising for this among many reasons. In 2021, even fewer Boothies took international jobs: 7.8%, most (3.3%) in Asia, with a few (2.6%) going to Latin America and even fewer (1.3%) Europe.


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