We are getting the first glimpses of MBA Class of 2022 outcomes, and they look strong. In April, UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business released early data showing an uptick in consulting employment at the top-10 school; now the Darden School of Business at the University of Virginia is offering even more detail, with preliminary data indicating a 21% jump in the newly graduated class’s overall median base salary.
Darden MBAs made a median $175,000, according to a report late last month timed to coincide with the school’s commencement ceremony, which was held live for the first time since 2019 because of the pandemic.
“You matter,” Dean Scott Beardsley jubilantly told MBAs gathered for graduation May 23. “You belong in this world and are part of this world. I wish you great success in becoming the responsible leaders we at Darden have done our best to prepare you to be.”
STRONG UPWARD TREND IN AVERAGE SALARIES & BONUSES OVER 5 YEARS
Darden has not yet released its average base salary, nor the usual array of employment metrics, all of which will become public later in the summer. But we have plenty of recent history by which to estimate. The average starting base salary for Virginia Darden’s Class of 2020 MBAs was $139,945, up about $4,800 from the Class of 2019’s $135,168 average, or 3.5%. In 2021, Darden’s average salary grew $4,988 to $144,933, a 3.6% increase. Over the past five years, from before the pandemic to the middle of it, average base salaries for Darden MBAs have risen by more than $22,000 — a remarkably stable and steady record.
Bonuses reported by Darden graduates last year also reached record highs. Average bonus was $33,266 in 2020, down slightly from the previous year’s $33,458, but rose to $35,488 in 2021, reported by 88% of the class. That’s up more than $2,200, or 6.7%.
Darden’s full slate of data will show whether the school continues its strong recent record. Last year the school released preliminary numbers in September, and a final employment report in October.
‘DARDEN GRADUATES, EACH OF YOU IS SPECIAL’
For Darden (and many other business schools), less steady than salary amid the historic disruption of coronavirus has been placement rate, which dipped in 2020 to 84% at graduation and 91% three months later. 2021 brought the bounce-back, as the school set a record with 91% employed at graduation, nearly 11 percentage points higher than 2016’s job acceptances reported by graduation. By 90 days after graduation, 97% of the Class of 2021 had received a full-time offer — better than any top-25 school in 2020 and in league with Wharton and Kellogg numbers from 2019 — and 95% had accepted a full-time job offer, up from 93% and 91%, respectively.
For the Class of 2022, early data indicates strong placement numbers once again, with 92% of the class receiving a full-time offer by graduation and 89% accepting a job. Top industries once again are consulting (last year about a third of the class went into this industry), finance (over a quarter of the Class of 2021), tech (19%), consumer packaged goods, and healthcare; top employers, once more, are Amazon, Bain & Company, Bank of America, BCG, Credit Suisse, Dell, Deloitte, JPMorgan Chase, McKinsey, and Microsoft.
One thing is certain: The Class of 2022 that joined Darden in the early days of the Covid-19 pandemic had a wild, challenging ride. While their journey had “frustration at what might have been,” Dean Beardsley told graduates in May, it also yielded “optimism from the depths of despair.”
“Darden graduates, each of you is special,” Beardsley said. “You matter. You belong in this world and are part of this world. I wish you great success in becoming the responsible leaders we at Darden have done our best to prepare you to be.”