If you ever doubted the ROI of an MBA, 2022 should dispel them — though after 2021, you’d be forgiven for having those doubts.
Starting salaries for MBAs graduating from the top 30 business schools flat-lined between 2020, the first year of the coronavirus pandemic, and 2021. But a year later, salaries and signing bonuses are looking robust, with new school records aplenty, whether those B-schools measure in averages or medians.
In 2020, the average starting salary at 18 schools that reported means was $135,874; a year later, that number had actually declined by 0.6% to $135,098. Not good!
But in 2022, the average at 17 schools — minus Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business, which switched last year to reporting medians — was $147,648, up $12,550 or 9.3%. Indeed, the MBA had made a dramatic comeback.
STANFORD LEADS ALL B-SCHOOLS WITH AVERAGE MBA SALARY OF $182K
Consider: From 2020 to 2021, six of the top 30 B-schools saw their mean base salaries decline. From 2021 to 2022, none did.
From 2020 to 2021, nine schools saw their average signing bonuses decline. From 2021 to 2022, only four did.
MBA salaries have always climbed year-to-year, with the exception of years of great calamity, like the Great Recession — and we see clearly now, the coronavirus pandemic. But even in times of great disruption, some things remain constant. Once again this year, Stanford Graduate School of Business led all mean-reporting schools with a base salary average of $182,272; NYU Stern School of Business was second at $161,475, and Virginia Darden School of Business was third at $157,090. Stanford, whose average base salary was up $20,441 in one year, boasted the biggest year-to-year increase in raw dollars; the GSB also had the biggest dollar jump across two years at $22,728.
By percentage, however, the school with the greatest increase was USC Marshall School of Business, where the average MBA starting salary grew 14.8% to $150,314. Washington Foster School of Business, which also reported an impressive one-year jump of 13% to $147,340, was the top school by percentage gained from 2020 to 2022, with a 17.4% increase in base salary. Emory Goizueta Business School (15.1% to $149,759) and Rice Jones Graduate School of Business (14.9% to $142,212) also had noteworthy two-year increases.
In 2022, the average year-over-year increase in base salary for 17 schools with averages was $12,880, and by percentage, 9.5%. The average 2-year increase in base salary for those 17 schools: $15,362 and 11.5%.
Overall, eight of 17 B-schools saw double-digit percentage increases in starting MBA salary; across two years, 13 of those 17 schools can make that claim. See the tables at the bottom of this page for details.
BASE SALARIES GREW 12% AT MEDIAN-REPORTING SCHOOLS IN 2022
Many of the top schools — including six of the M7 — report only medians; overall, a dozen schools in the top 30 preferred to report medians over means in 2020 and 2021, and 13 schools did so in 2022, with Dartmouth Tuck joining the median group. Averaging out the median starting salaries at those schools reinforces the overall picture we got from the means:
- In 2020, the total average of 12 median starting salaries was $138,375;
- In 2021, the number grew to $141,988, up just $3,613, or 2.6%;
- And in 2022, the number for 13 schools jumped to $159,085, up $17,097, or 12%.
In 2022, six schools reported median base MBA salaries of $175K, including Stanford, which reports both median and mean (we used the latter figure for data calculations in this story). Columbia Business School saw the biggest year-to-year jump in median base salary, up $25,000 (16.7%). Four schools — Columbia, Harvard Business School, Wharton, and Chicago Booth School of Business — all saw $25K increases to median base salary from 2020 to 2022.
However, the biggest two-year jump in median base salary was not at an M7 school or even a top-10: It was at the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, which reported a $30K and 22.2% jump to $165,000.
BIGGEST MEAN SIGNING BONUS: NYU STERN, $40,936
Bonuses tend to be more volatile than salaries, which is to say you can count on more fluctuation year to year in the averages and medians reported by B-schools, even the most elite. Overall in 2022, the biggest average bonus was at NYU Stern, whose grads reported receiving $40,936; Washington Foster was not far behind at $40,657, and Cornell's Johnson Graduate School of Management was third at $38,310.
USC Marshall saw the biggest year-to-year bonus increase, up $7,745 (26.3%) to $37,218; Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management was close behind with an increase of $6,985 (25.3%) to $34,636. Across two years, Marshall was again the most impressive with an increase of $8,545 (29.8%), and Owen was again runner-up with growth of $7,645 (28.3%). See the table at the bottom of this page for details.
For the 15 schools with averages that saw year-to-year increases to their class bonus, the average increase was $3,015 (10%); for the 16 schools that saw two-year increases, it was $2,961 (9.8%).
Only four schools lost ground in average bonus from 2021 to 2022, and only two that give averages: UC-Berkeley Haas and Virginia Darden. Both deficits were under $1,000. Likewise, just two schools report declines from 2020 to 2022: Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business, down $250, and Rochester Simon Business School, down $1,250.
Among the median-reporting schools, 11 reported class bonuses of $30K; only Wharton (which did not report any bonus number) and Tepper (which reported $38,956) were different. MBA salaries and bonuses in year one certainly made up for the cost of the degree.
ONE B-SCHOOL REPORTED 100% JOB OFFERS & ACCEPTANCES FOR ITS 2022 MBAs
2020 saw surprising stability in MBA salaries and bonuses at a time when placement rates at many schools were plummeting; 2021 saw those rates rebound while salaries were flat. It was quite a rebound: No school in the top 25 for which data were available in 2021 — all but two schools — saw declines in either job offers or job acceptances after three months, and some schools saw remarkable increases.
This year saw something of a step back — but it's important to note that placement numbers can only go so far up; and to be fair, there is little practical difference between 98% and 96% job offers, or 94% and 92% acceptances.
Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business led all schools in both job offers and job acceptances with numbers that can't be improved upon: 100% in both categories. After Scheller, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management and Michigan Ross reported 99% of their 2022 grads received job offers, and Washington Foster (99%) and Ross (98.4%) led in job acceptances. UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School reported the biggest increase in job acceptances, from 91% in 2021 to 95% last year; UC-Berkeley Haas was notable as well, jumping from 88.3% to 92.8%.
It's good to have an MBA from a top school: Only one school out of the 30 examined by P&Q reported job acceptances below 90%: Stanford, which had the biggest decrease in that stat, a 5-percentage-point drop from 91% in 2021.
Overall, 14 of the top 30 B-schools saw increases in job offers, seven were flat, and eight saw declines, most of them mild. In acceptances, 16 schools saw increases, two were flat, and 12 saw small declines.
Bottom line: MBA starting salaries and bonuses, along with job prospects, were as good or better than ever.
DON'T MISS: LAST YEAR'S STORY ON MBA SALARIES & BONUSES AT THE TOP 25 B-SCHOOLS
AND CHECK OUT OUR COVERAGE OF EMPLOYMENT REPORTS AT INDIVIDUAL SCHOOLS:
Wharton 2022 MBA Jobs Report: Median Salary Jumps 12.9% To $175K
Harvard 2022 Jobs Data: MBA Median Salary & Total Compensation Explode
Kellogg 2022 MBA Jobs Report: Median Salary Jumps 10% To $165K
2022 MBA Jobs: Finance Powers 10% Pay Bump At Chicago Booth
Yale SOM MBAs Report 12.5% Jump In Median Pay In 2022
Berkeley Haas 2022 Jobs Report: Median Salary Climbs 4%
NYU Stern MBAs Shattered School Pay Records In 2022
Big Numbers In MIT’s Jobs Report: MBA Median Salary Up 10% To $165K, Total Comp Now Over $200K
Digging Deeper: More About Berkeley Haas’ Strong Jobs Report
2022 MBA Jobs: Tepper Reports New Placement & Salary Records
Columbia Closes Out 2022 By Reporting Record MBA Compensation: Over $200K
Dartmouth Tuck Is The Latest U.S. B-School To Set An MBA Salary Record In 2022
Beyond The Numbers: Interview With Tuck’s Career Services Director
Duke 2022 Jobs Report: Record Salaries & Acceptances For Fuqua MBAs
Georgetown McDonough Reports Record MBA Salaries
Vanderbilt Owen Produces Record For Base Salary At This Top-25 MBA Program
98% Employment For MBAs For Emory Goizueta
Notre Dame Reports Record Outcomes For 2022 MBA Class
Nearly 100% Of MBAs From Michigan Ross Found Jobs In 2022
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.