The coronavirus pandemic impacted everything in graduate business education, but a few sturdy institutions weathered the storm better than others, a fact reflected in the chaotic 2020 employment data. Where trouble occurred in placement of their MBA graduates, the top business schools employed incomparable alumni networks and long-standing corporate relationships to get folks jobs — and for the most part, they were the kind of jobs MBAs want.
The elite of the elite, the M7 schools — Harvard Business School, Stanford Graduate School of Business, Chicago Booth School of Business, the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, Columbia Business School, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, and MIT Sloan School of Management — were, of course, best positioned to withstand the crisis, and besides a few soft spots they did just that. Now, in 2021, these schools are enjoying a new narrative: It’s all about the rebound, even if they didn’t have to endure as much of a trough to rebound from.
Following Chicago Booth and MIT Sloan, the Wharton School today (November 9) released its MBA employment data for 2021, and the news was just as good — in fact better, at least in one key measure. Wharton’s report shows that by late summer nearly all of the school’s 585 grads seeking jobs were working or had received offers of work. Its 99% offer rate after three months set a new school record and closed the books on the 2020 mark of 93.5% offers after 90 days — which, down from 98% in 2019, constituted as much of a “trough” as Wharton is ever likely to experience in the absence of another global catastrophe.
SUCCESS ‘ACROSS AN INCREASINGLY DIVERSE SET OF INDUSTRIES’
There was little shift in the big three industries for Wharton MBAs in 2021, with financial services continuing to be the most popular, at 35.1%. This is actually down slightly from last year’s mark of 36.2% and 2019’s 35.8% but well within the normal year-to-year see-saw. Consulting (27.2%, up from 24.5%) and technology (18.6%, up from 16.2%) gained, the latter having now grown as an industry destination for Wharton MBAs for three consecutive years, each year to an all-time high.
Under the finance umbrella, investment banking (12.9%), venture capital (3.4%), and diversified services (2.1%) climbed slightly, while private equity (11.1%), investment management (3.7%), and hedge funds (1.9%) dipped. Apart from the top industries, as Dean Erika James notes in the new report (accessible here), Wharton saw some interesting shifts, with healthcare slipping to 5.3% from 6.7%; consumer products/retail falling off a cliff (to 1.4% from 5.6%); and modest increases in media/entertainment, manufacturing, and energy (see table below).
“It is extraordinary to see that 99% of our recent MBA graduates seeking employment received an offer,” James writes, “and that such success was achieved across an increasingly diverse set of industries. I’m incredibly thankful to the entire Wharton community of employers, alumni, faculty and staff who played a crucial role in helping us reach this milestone.”
MEDIAN SALARIES GROW AFTER 2 FLAT YEARS
Wharton's median salary was up $5,000 this year after remaining flat in 2020, to $155,000, powered by gains in tech, fintech, and social impact, among others. Median salaries for consultants ($165,000) and bankers ($150,000) were unchanged for the third straight year. The highest median salary was once again reported by those in the legal and professional services field, at $190,000, though that was fewer than 1% of grads.
Unlike some of its peers, Wharton does not report numbers of grads hired by specific companies, but the school did list 65 companies that hired two or more members of the Class of 2021, including the usual suspects — Amazon, McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Apple, Google, Deloitte, Goldman Sachs, Bank of America, and Morgan Stanley. Among the other notables: Pfizer, creator of one of the three coronavirus vaccines.
For Wharton interns this summer, median monthly pay was flat for consultants at $13,500, most of any field, but jumped to $10,746 for those in finance, up from $9,204 last year. Placement in both was nearly identical summer-to-summer: 16.4% in consulting, 36.2% in finance. Tech internships were up slightly to 17.4% from 16.9%, but tech monthly pay was down to $8,298 from $8,633.