MBA job offers and acceptances were down across the board in 2020, and we don’t need to remind you why. However, while the jobs were harder to find, the ones that graduates did land paid well enough to allow B-schools to boast about the continued strong ROI of their programs.
That was the case at Yale School of Management. Last year, in the depths of the pandemic, the Yale Class of 2020 made news with a major increase in total compensation, fueled by a big boost in median base pay — even as both job offers an acceptances dipped at Yale, as they did elsewhere.
Now, with the release of the SOM’s 2021 numbers, we see a curious reversal: Salaries are up nominally and total compensation is flat overall, but placement rates have rebounded. After dropping from 92.4% in 2019 to 90.2% last year, offers at three months at Yale bounced way back to 95.7%; after slipping to 85.9% from 91.4%, acceptances at 90 days roared back to 94.1%. Both numbers represent school records.
MEDIAN PAY FOR 2021 YALE MBAs: $165,248
Yale SOM grads were paid well in 2020. Factoring in an overall median base salary of $140K, up from $130K in 2019, as well as a median signing bonus of $30K (unchanged) reported by 77.3% of grads and a median “other” comp of more than $20K reported by just over 10%, Yale MBAs’ median total comp was $165,333 last year, up from $155,170 the previous year — a 6.5% jump in one year. For comparison, the overall compensation increase at Yale between 2018 and 2019 was 2.3%.
Now, even as the Ivy B-school’s job offers and acceptances three months after graduation increased 5.5 and 8.2 percentage points, respectively, pay for Yalies has stagnated. For the 256 of 312 students seeking employment (82.1%), SOM saw only a very modest increase in median starting salary, to $140,400, while median bonuses were flat at $30K for a fourth straight year. Those receiving “other” compensation also dropped to a four-year low, at 8.4% — it was nearly 20% in 2018 — though the amount ticked upward to $22,950 from $20,413.
The result is that total median compensation for Yale SOM MBAs in 2021 was $165,248, an $85 decline from 2020 — about 0.05%. Statistically insignificant? Yes. But noteworthy in that it’s the first decline of any kind at Yale in several years, an acute contrast with the big jump in pay when the market was in turmoil in 2020.
COMPARISONS & CONTRASTS
Harvard Business School experienced a similar 2021 to Yale's. HBS MBAs had plenty of jobs to choose from, with the school's offers and acceptances bouncing back nicely from the 2020 trough. However, median compensation for Harvard MBAs slipped to $189,850 from $193,200, a decline of about 1.2%, and still lag 2019's level.
It's not a clear-cut case of every school suffering the same reversal. At Chicago Booth School of Business, coming off a 2020 in which bonuses were flat and total compensation grew only 1.2% from 2019, Boothies reported a big jump in median salary, to $155,000, and in median bonuses, to $35,000, powering an overall compensation total of $178,450, up 4.9% from 2020. Likewise, at Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, 97.1% of two-year MBA graduates in 2021 received offers by three months after graduation, up from 95% last year, and 96.1% accepted, up from 93%. Pay also climbed, with median starting salaries up to $150,000 from $144,000, leading to a 2.1% uptick in total compensation, to $175,800 from $172,200. Bonuses, which 86% of grads reported receiving, were the same at a median of $30,000.
And at the Ross School of Business at the University of Michigan — a school that once held Yale's spot in the top 10 of the rankings — pay was up along with placement rates. Graduates of the Ross School’s full-time MBA program received the highest total median salary package in school history, $171,450, a 6% increase over the Class of 2020. The class’s median salary was $144,000, 6.7% more than last year. Placement at Ross, meanwhile, rebounded big time, with 97.5% of MBAs receiving offers within three months of graduation (up from 90% last year), and 96.1% accepting; the latter is a 10-year-high and a nearly 9% year-over-year improvement.
CONSULTING REMAINS TOP INDUSTRY FOR YALIES; TECH TUMBLES
"Throughout their careers," reads the Yale SOM MBA employment web page, "Yale MBAs take on a range of challenges across regions and sectors. Graduating students find positions in a variety of industries. The range of employers that hire Yale SOM students is remarkable, reflecting the initiative and creativity that our students bring to shaping their own careers. Alumni of the school excel in roles that span industries, sectors, and regions."
Currently and historically, consulting is the sector that Yalies love the most. In 2021, more than 34% of grads went into the industry, hired by such firms as McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group, Deloitte, EY, Strategy&, and Accenture; since 2015 the share of each class that became consultants has grown 4.9 percentage points, or 16.7%. Consulting peaked at 37.2% of Yale's MBA class in 2019.
Finance, meanwhile, is steady-eddie, with 25.1% of the Class of 2021, up from 23.3% last year and up 2.4% in six years. Finance has crawled back from a low of 19.6% in 2016. Contrast that with tech, which dropped to 10% from 12.7% and which is on a three-year decline from a high of 14.9% in 2018.
Regionally, Yale MBAs once again preferred to remain in the New York-Boston corridor, with 52.1% of the class working there, up from 47% last year. Those MBAs also make the most, at a median of $150K (unchanged from last year). Next closest was the West, where 26.6% of the Class of 2021 went, down from 29.2%; median salary for Silicon Valley-bound Yale MBAs was $135K, down from $140K. Once again, more Yale MBAs stayed stateside this year, another reflection of the reality of the pandemic, with 91.5% of full-time jobs reported inside the U.S. compared to 87% last year and just under 80% in 2019. Yale MBAs working in the U.S. made a median base salary of $150K, up $15K in two years. Of the 8.5% who did find work abroad, most went (or went back) to Asia (40%), though at a considerable pay disadvantage: their median starting salary was $103,629, down from last year's $106,610.
See the full Yale SOM MBA employment report here.
DON'T MISS OUR COVERAGE OF THE JOB PROSPECTS FOR THE MBA CLASS OF 2021: