Columbia Business School’s new $600 million campus in Manhattanville, about a 15-minute walk north from its longtime location near Central Harlem, figures prominently in the school’s newly released 2021 MBA employment report — as well it should. At a price tag of $600 million, Columbia’s new facilities represent the most expensive business school ever built — more than double the cost to build Yale School of Management’s $243 million building, opened in 2014, or Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management $250 million Hub, opened in 2017. Just three years ago, Carnegie Mellon’s Tepper School of Business spent $201 million on its new 315,000-square-foot home.
“Apart from the dramatic increase in classroom space, there is a dramatic increase in networking places and co-working places,” Columbia Business School Dean Costis Maglaras says, adding that “the buildings relax constraints. Student life will improve. The way we can teach and educate will change in the space.”
Student life will probably improve upon publication of the MBA Class of 2021 employment report, too — at least in terms of employment anxiety (if they had any). Almost by design, as Columbia prepares to move into its new digs in January (a move delayed by Omicron), its latest class reports reaching a new high in compensation — the highest total median compensation in school history, in fact, rebounding (and then some) from a down year in the throes of coronavirus in 2020.
NEW SCHOOL RECORD FOR MEDIAN COMP: $178,380
Columbia’s two new facilities in Manhattanville “physically embody our vision and values,” Dean Maglaras says in the foreword to the new jobs report, released this week. “Our new state-of-the-art buildings will double our space and unite faculty, students, and staff in open, light-filled spaces designed specifically to encourage interaction and collaboration. In addition to flexible classrooms, we will have dedicated spaces for socializing, recruiting, events with business leaders, and more."
From the standpoint of its students, of course, Columbia's most important initiative is helping them get good jobs. And in that area, as well, CBS is excelling.
Total median compensation for Columbia grads jumped 2.3% to $178,380, a school record, a year after dropping more than 2% amid the onset of the pandemic. Though median base salary stayed the same at a median $150,000 and signing bonuses were flat at a median $30,000, the increase was powered by a jump in other guaranteed compensation, which increased to $30,000 from $25,000, and in increases in the percentages of those reporting both kinds of bonuses. See the table above for details.
Nor was placement a concern this year, as it was in 2020. Columbia reports that 94% of its Class of 2020 MBAs received job offers by three months after graduation, up from 90% in 2020 and more in line with the 93.9% in 2019 and 94.1% in 2018; and 92% accepted job offers, up from 87% the previous year and 90.4% in 2019 (and 90.1% in 2018). Sixteen students started their own venture, roughly 2.1% of the class of 762, down from 19 students and 2.5% in the Class of 2020, and quite a bit lower than the 4.5% of the Class of 2019.
A CLASS OF 2021 MBA IN INVESTMENT BANKING MADE A BASE SALARY OF $300K
Consulting and finance have been locked in a back-and-forth battle at Columbia since 2018, when consulting became the number-one career destination for the first time. Each subsequent year has seem a different top industry, and in 2021, finance again reclaimed the top role with 36% of the class to consulting's 33.4%. The top two employers of Columbia MBAs, however, were both consulting firms, McKinsey and Boston Consulting Group, which combined hired a total of 90 Class of 2021 MBAs; see table on page 2 for details.
The other leading industry at Columbia, media/tech, saw a decline to 17% from nearly 20%, one year after leaping by 6 percentage points.
Columbia consultants had the highest median pay, with the vast majority in "Strategic/Management" making $165K; the biggest group of finance grads, in Investment Banking/Brokerage, made a median $150K. As always, salary ranges are instructive: one of those investment bankers reported a starting salary of $300,000, and a hedge fund manager reported a base salary of $250,000. The lowest starting salary was someone in nonprofit/government, at $75,000. Meanwhile, another hedge fund person — or perhaps the same one! — reported other guaranteed compensation of $300K. Last year, a Columbia grad in private equity reported a base salary of $375,000, and someone else in investment management reporting other guaranteed compensation of $250K.
Whatever they make, the vast majority of Columbia grads were happy about it in 2021: 97% reported their job satisfaction as a 4 or 5 on scale of 1–5, up from 94% last year and 93% in each of the two years before that.
USHERING IN 'AN AMBITIOUS NEW ERA' AT COLUMBIA
For Columbia, it all comes back to the move to a new home. As Dean Maglaras writes, "My hope is that Manhattanville will not only become the lifelong home for the CBS community, but that it will usher in an ambitious new era for our school, its impact, and its legacy."
The past 18 months have been very challenging, he writes, but "with the help and commitment of students, faculty, and staff, we made a full return to campus life and in-person education.
"We have started an incredibly exciting year, one that promises to enhance the intellectual life and thought leadership of our school, furthers our cutting-edge curriculum, reinforces our commitment to a broader, more representative community, and will, literally and figuratively, transform the CBS experience for our community and our partners."
See the next page for a list of the major employers of Columbia Business School grads over the years.