High & Low MBA Salaries And Bonuses At The Top 100 B-Schools

If you stare long enough at columns of MBA salary figures, the numbers start to run together, becoming a blur. It’s a form of semantic satiation where even as you search for trends and distinctions, the data become a meaningless blob of numbers, and your mind zones out.

Fortunately, there’s a cure. Nothing breaks the spell faster than a juicy seven-figure number.

In the mountain of salary and bonus stats released in conjunction with U.S. News‘ annual ranking, two graduates of Harvard Business School’s MBA Class of 2022 earn special notice. Even as HBS took the prize for highest MBA salary for a U.S. citizen, a cool $550,000, one of Harvard’s international MBAs nearly doubled up his classmate, reporting a $1 million starting salary at a finance/accounting job based in the U.S. Northeast. Both of these HBS grads’ salaries dwarf the highest salaries reported in 2021.

$1 million is a special number, a pinnacle rarely reached but always dreamed of by elite MBA students, and it’s no surprise to see someone from Harvard reach it. Yet Harvard did not corner the market on flashy numbers in 2022. Six schools reported high U.S. salaries of $300K or more, and four reported the same for foreign graduates. Bonuses of the eyebrow-raising variety were abundant as well. One international student at Hawaii Manoa Shidler College of Business — a school with 14 total students in its latest MBA class — reported a $200K sign-on bonus, and a graduate at Michigan State Broad College of Business reported a bonus of $107K. The latter student was, again, a non-U.S. citizen.


Each spring, the publication of U.S. News‘ ranking and the data the magazine spends a year collecting offer an opportunity to examine in granular detail the highs and lows of MBA pay. Overall this year — once you overcome data satiation — the picture is fairly clear: The starting salary, sign-on bonus, and total pay numbers are up, in some cases way up, reinforcing once again the consistency of the MBA’s value proposition.

Stanford Graduate School of Business once again reported the highest average salary, at $182,272; the highest average sign-on bonus was reported at NYU Stern School of Business, $40,936, with Washington Foster School of Business close behind at $40,657. But the real progress can be seen in average total pay: Across all of the 100 schools in Poets&Quants’ 2022-2023 ranking, 19 had total pay over $170K in 2022, all of them in the top 25. That’s up from just six schools last year. Fourteen schools have total MBA pay averages over $180K.

P&Q calculates total pay by taking the average salary and multiplying it by 100, adding that to the average sign-on bonus multiplied by the percentage of students reporting that they received it, then dividing the whole thing by 100. For the past few years, the B-school with the highest overall pay has been outside the top 10: NYU Stern, where graduates in 2021 earned an average of $178,182, up 1.7% from Stern’s 2020 MBA class. This year, however, powered by some gaudy numbers, Harvard overtook both Stern and Stanford to post the highest base pay: $194,723, topping GSB by a little over $1K and NYU by about $3K (see table below).


Notable overall pay growth occurred at several top-10 schools year-over-year from 2021 to 2022. Harvard's grew $25,708 (15.2%); Dartmouth Tuck School of Business saw an $19,742 increase (11.8%) to $186,690, and Stanford saw a $20,189 (11.7%) jump to $193,388. Since 2018, total MBA pay for graduates of Chicago Booth School off Business has grown more than 23%, to $191,177; HBS and Northwestern Kellogg School of Management grew more than 22%, the latter to $185,873. NYU Stern, the non-top-10 school most often rubbing shoulders with the elites in terms of pay, saw its base pay grow more than 20% in the last five years, to $191,768.

Salary and bonus growth were big for the top 10 in 2022. The average MBA salary at a top 10 school grew by more than 10% to $163,327 from $147,925, and the average bonus grew by 4.6% to $35,760 from $34,176. Reporting has been better in the top 10, too, with the average percentage of graduates who report salaries growing to 83.8% from 82.6% and the average reporting bonuses growing to 63.2% from 60.2%. See the next pages for tables including all the salary, bonus and reporting data; see MBA Salaries & Bonuses At The Top 30 U.S. B-Schools for more in-depth analysis.

Once you start looking at high and low salaries, the top 10 B-schools are not longer the whole story. Across the 100 schools in P&Q's ranking, HBS set the 2022 mark for highest "high" salary with the aforementioned $1 million finance grad, but USC Marshall School of Business reported the highest "low" MBA salary, $138,000 for an international grad, and NYU Stern had the highest low for a U.S. grad at $115K.

Interestingly, 17 B-schools reported higher "high" foreign than U.S. salaries, while 20 reported higher foreign salary "lows". Thirty schools reported higher foreign salary averages.


Unusually high numbers help to break the data dizziness spell, and so do unusually low numbers. The lowest "low" salary was a remarkable $2,718 — no numerals missing here — reported by an international MBA grad of Babson Olin Graduate School of Business, who accepted a marketing/sales position in consumer products. Nowhere near as low but notable nonetheless are a $24K starting salary for a U.S. grad from Baylor University's Hankamer School of Business and $30K for a foreign grad of the University of Kansas Business School.

The Saunders College of Business at Rochester Institute of Technology and Oklahoma State Spears School of Business report the lowest "high" salary: $90,000. Kansas reports the lowest "high" for a foreign student: $30,000.

In salary averages, the lowest overall was at the University of Mississippi School of Business Administration, the No, 82 school in P&Q's ranking, which reported an average of $60,977. The lowest in the P&Q top 25 was at Washington University at St. Louis Olin Business School ($117,687), and the lowest in the top 10 as at Yale School of Management ($152,744).

The highest percentage of grads reporting salary occurred at both Hawaii Shidler and Rutgers Business School in New Jersey, both of which had 100% of 2022 MBAs report. In all, 29 schools were over 90% reporting, and 60 schools were over 80%. The average in the top 10 was 83.8%, with UC-Berkeley Haas leading all top-10 schools at 91% and Columbia Business School and Stanford GSB bringing up the rear at 71% each. The lowest salary reporting percentage overall was at No. 80 Oregon Lundquist College of Business: 24%.


Bonus averages tend to fluctuate less than salaries year-to-year, but that doesn't mean you won't find some crazy numbers. The highest bonus was, again, that $1 million at HBS; and the highest for a U.S. citizen graduate was at Stanford, where some lucky MBA earned $250K just for saying yes to a job. In all in the top 10, four schools reported bonuses of $200K or more; the highest average was at Columbia ($38,331) and the highest "low" was at Kellogg, Yale, Tuck, Haas, all of which reported $5K.

Hawaii Shidler, with its tiny 2022 class of just over a dozen people, reported the overall highest average bonus, $105,000; outside of that anomaly, NYU Stern had the highest of the other ranked schools, $40,936. The only other B-school to break $40K average was Washington Foster at $40,657. Fourteen schools reported bonus averages of $35K or more.

The lowest average bonus was at Kansas ($2,250); the lowest in the top 25 was at Indiana Kelley School of Business ($28,961). The lowest "high" bonus in the top 10 was at Dartmouth Tuck: $80,000.

Some more interesting numbers:

  • Highest average bonus: Washington Foster $41,240 (U.S.) and MSU Broad $81,700 (foreign)
  • Highest low bonus: UC-Irvine Mirage $15,000 (U.S.) and MSU Broad $69,500 (foreign)
  • Lowest low bonus: Rice Jones $50 (U.S.) and Kansas $1500 (foreign)
  • Lowest high bonus: Rochester Saunders $2,000 (U.S.) and Cincinnati Lindner and Kansas $3,000 (foreign)

Both Virginia Darden School of Business and Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business had the highest bonus reporting percentage: 86%. Michigan Ross School of Business and Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business were next at 85%, and Duke Fuqua School of Business was at 84%. Overall, eight schools (all in the top 30) were over 80% reporting bonuses, up from five schools last year, and 16 were over 75%, up from 10. Fifty-nine of 100 schools were below 60%. Leading the way in the top 10: Berkley Haas (78%) and Kellogg (77%).

See the next pages for high, low, and average salary and bonus data for all 100 of the U.S. business schools in Poets&Quants' 2023 ranking.


Questions about this article? Email us or leave a comment below.