MBA Jobs Report 2021: Strong Numbers From 5 More Top-25 B-Schools

Indiana University Kelley School of Business

Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business reported sharp rises in job offers and acceptances from its Class of 2021 MBAs, while salaries and signing bonuses were also up. Courtesy photo

What a difference a year makes. In 2020, the first of yet-to-be-determined number of pandemic years, top-ranked business schools had a much bleaker story to tell prospective MBAs in their annual employment reports. Then, it was more about weathering the storm and managing expectations.

Call 2021 the year of the bounce back. Several schools have posted placement, salary, and bonus numbers that show a return to business-as-usual, and some have posted placement or pay increases that are at record highs

Today, Poets&Quants has full or partial employment reports from five more top-25 business schools that continue this theme: Indiana Kelly, Washington Foster, USC Marshall, Texas McCombs, and UCLA Anderson all show a strong bounce backs in MBA job offers after an uncertain 2020. Salary and bonus numbers are also generally strong, but with some mixed results.

This crop rounds out this year’s employment reports for our top 25 business schools, save one (looking at you, Stanford.) See our full employment reporting in this roundup


Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, No. 22 in Poets&Quants’ latest ranking,  posted an 8.1% jump in job offer rates three months after graduation – from 87.6% in 2020 to 95.7% this year. Job acceptance rates rose 9.1%, from 85.7% in 2020 to 94.8%.

Kelley’s full-time MBA salaries are also on the rise, up 12.1% since 2018, according to its latest employment statistics. Class of 2021 MBAs earned a median base salary of $120,000 and a median sign-on bonus of $30,000. 

“(This report) was a great improvement from 2020. Average salaries and signing bonuses increased and have trended upwards for the past several years. We are seeing continued growth in the technology, consulting, health care and financial services industries. And despite the pandemic, opportunities still exist across the board and are even growing—we are seeing new employers and industries looking at Kelley MBAs,” Gale Gold Nichols, executive director of the Full-Time MBA Program tells Poets&Quants.

Marketing/sales was by far the most popular job function with 36% of graduating MBAs accepting positions in the field; Base salaries ranged between $80,000 and $157,000. Consulting was the second most popular at 21% but the base salary was highest of all job categories, ranging between $90,000 and $160,000. 

Kelley graduates went to work around the country, with the highest concentration staying in the Midwest (41%). Another 28% work in the West followed by Northeast (14%), Mid-Atlantic (8%) and the South (5%). 

We were encouraged to see the distribution of student employment across functions and industries. Additionally, we see that our students are landing positions throughout the United States, including about 60 percent that are outside of the Midwest,” Nichols says. “It is obvious that Kelley students can leverage their MBA to move in any number of different directions in terms of industry, function and location.”

On the internship front, monthly base salaries rose, averaging $7,250 in 2020 and up from $6,933 in 2019.

A key ingredient in our successful formula is our innovative Me Inc. program, which provides individualized professional development that begins even before classes begin and continues along our students’ path towards completing their MBA,” Nichols says. “This program, combined with the skill development and experiential learning opportunities that students take part in through our one-of-a-kind Academies, uniquely position Kelley students for success in their internships and full-time roles.”


The Financial Times has ranked the University of Washington’s Foster School of Business No. 1 for employment among U.S. MBA programs for the last four years. And, this year’s 97.2% job offer rate three months after graduation is up three points from 2020. (Foster ranked No. 21 in our latest ranking.)

“Amid the pandemic, our graduates kept their focus and persevered through all of the challenges during their internships and full-time job search,” assistant dean Naomi K. Sanchez tells Poets&Quants. “We saw students and graduates helping each other and our career coaches supporting them through interviewing seasons and beyond.”  

Salaries and bonuses are also up for Fosters ‘21 MBAs: Average base salary was $4,933 higher than the previous year, rising from $125,474 to $130,407. The school’s average signing bonus is up $2,903 from $36,380 in 2020 to $39,283.

“The value of a Foster MBA is significant, Sanchez says, noting our story from November calculating that Foster had the fourth lowest debt and eighth highest debt-to-income ratio of all of the top 25 business schools in our ranking.

“Foster’s MBA is highly collaborative, and offers graduates corporate connections and a rigorous curriculum that prepares them for post-graduate leadership positions. High employment and higher salaries are good indicators of the capabilities of our graduates, their knowledge and skills, and the demonstration of a strong community and business partnerships.”

By region, 64% of Foster MBA graduates took jobs in Washington state, while 35% went out-of-state and 1% took jobs outside the United States.  See Foster’s full report here

Next page: Marshall’s employment bounce back

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