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

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

An international graduate from Harvard Business School‘s MBA Class of 2023 made a base salary of $324,000 last year working in financial services, in either the Northeast or Midwest. That was just a grand less than another foreign student made after graduating from the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania: $325K for a finance/accounting gig in the U.S. West.

Gaudy numbers indeed — and while they were the best for non-U.S. citizens graduating from the top U.S. B-schools last year, some U.S. MBAs from the top schools saw even better paydays. One Stanford Graduate School of Business MBA earned $500,000 to start a finance job in the West, while another GSB grad made $450K in finance in the Midwest, and a third made $400K in finance in the Northeast. From Northwestern’s Kellogg School of Management, a U.S. grad reported a base salary of $450K working in finance in the Northeast; from HBS, another U.S. MBA made $425K in finance/accounting in the Southwest.

And the biggest salary of all in 2023: An MIT Sloan School of Management MBA, hailing from the U.S. and working in the Northeast, made an astounding $550,000 to start. His or her job was in — you guessed it — finance.

FOR MBAs FROM THE TOP SCHOOLS, BIG PAYDAYS & BONUSES

Sign-on bonuses were big and flashy once more in 2023, too: The highest, at Stanford, was $400K for a U.S. grad, better by $150K than the best bonus secured by a U.S. MBA in 2022. Four grads — U.S. from Harvard and Wharton, and one each from the Haas School of Business at UC-Berkeley — reported bonuses of $222,800 this year; for the foreign Berkeley grad, that’s better than all but one international grad in 2022. (That one grad? He or she reported a cool $1 million bonus coming out of Harvard).

The clear takeaway from the salary and bonus data released last month by U.S. News & World Report as part of the magazine’s annual ranking of U.S. B-schools is that an MBA continues to be a lucrative investment — especially, but not exclusively, if you get it from an elite school. Across the Poets&Quants top 10, the average salary grew 3.4% to $168,891 from $163,327, and is up more than 14% in two years. The average bonus grew 4.7% year-over-year to $37,457, and has grown nearly 10% since 2021.

But life is also good for MBAs from the top 25 schools, where the average base salary grew 5.4% from 2022 to 2023, to $160,387, as all but two top-25 schools saw year-to-year salary growth. And while the average bonus at a top-25 school dipped slightly (by less than half a percent), all but six schools saw bonus growth in 2023.

Across the top 100 U.S. B-schools, 23 had average base salaries over $150K in 2023, up from 16 in 2022; 15 had salaries over $160K, up from just six; and five had salaries over $170K, up from two. But just like last year, one school remains the only one with an average base salary over $180K: Stanford, at $189,010, up 3.7% from $182,272.

P&Q’s 2024 TOP 10: CLASS OF 2023 AVERAGE SALARIES & BONUSES

2024 P&Q Rank School Average Salary 2023 Average Signing Bonus 2023
1 Stanford GSB $189,010 $42,249
2 Harvard Business School $171,740 $36,629
3 Dartmouth (Tuck) $170,824 $37,548
4 Columbia Business School $168,635 $39,395
5 Yale SOM $163,830 $36,200
6 Duke (Fuqua) $162,834 $34,691
7 Cornell (Johnson) $162,808 $38,826
8 Virginia (Darden) $167,899 $37,588
9 Michigan (Ross) $162,946 $33,256
10 New York (Stern) $168,182 $38,192
Source: U.S. News & World Report

THE LOW LOWS, THE HIGH LOWS & THE LOW HIGHS

U.S. News breaks down salary and bonus data according to U.S. citizenship: U.S. versus foreign. It also publishes an overall average. The lowest average salary overall in the top 100 was at South Florida’s Muma College of Business, at $54,867; the lowest in the top 25 was $128,333 at Florida’s Warrington College of Business, and the lowest in the top 10 was $162,808 at Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management. The latter two are significantly higher than the low average salaries in 2022.

The lowest low salary was a meager $756 for a foreign student in general management in manufacturing, who graduated from Babson College’s Olin Graduate School of Business. For a U.S. grad, the lowest low was $15,000 for someone who went into nonprofits in the Midwest: $15,000. That MBA graduated from Detroit Mercy College of Business Administration. In the top 25, the lowest low for a foreign MBA was at HBS ($36,590), and for a U.S. MBA at Emory Goizueta Business School ($31,200).

Conversely, the highest low salary was for a foreign grad at Rochester Simon Business School ($115K), while the highest low for a U.S. grad was shared by MIT Sloan and Michigan Ross School of Business: $110K. Five B-schools had six-digit low salaries for U.S. grads, and eight had six-digit lows for foreign grads.

Which brings us to the lowest high salary: For U.S. MBAs, that was Detroit Mercy ($79,040), and for foreign MBAs it was Alabama’s Manderson Graduate School of Business: $42,003.

HIGHEST AVERAGE SALARIES IN 2023 AT THE P&Q TOP 100

2024 P&Q Rank School Average Salary 2023
1 Stanford GSB $189,010
31 Pennsylvania (Wharton) $175,828
11 Chicago (Booth) $173,310
2 Harvard Business School $171,740
3 Dartmouth (Tuck) $170,824
12 Northwestern (Kellogg) $169,698
4 Columbia Business School $168,635
10 New York (Stern) $168,182
14 MIT (Sloan) $168,095
8 Virginia (Darden) $167,899
Source: U.S. News & World Report

17 B-SCHOOLS REPORT DOUBLE-DIGIT GROWTH IN AVERAGE BASE SALARY

Some interesting wrinkles across the top 100 vis-a-vis foreign versus domestic MBAs:

  • Schools where foreign salary high was higher than U.S.: 19 (up from 17 in 2022)
  • Schools where foreign salary low was higher than U.S.: 40 (up from 20)
  • Schools where foreign salary average was higher than U.S.: 37 (up from 30)

Of all schools, the biggest year-over-year average salary growth occurred at No. 87 University of Kansas School of Business, up 30% to $89,398 from $68,780. Keep in mind, however, that many of the schools in the lower rungs have very small programs; in Kansas’ case, only 20 grads reported base salary in 2023 out of 25 known to be seeking employment and 32 overall. (The smallness of so many of the lower-50 programs especially messes with bonus averages; see below for details.) In the top 25, the best year-to-year average salary improvement was at Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, up 10.3% to $154,052 from $139,711; and in the top 10, Yale School of Management led with 7.3% growth to $163,830 from $152,744, while three schools registered 6.9% growth: Dartmouth Tuck School of Business ($170,824 from $159,842), Duke Fuqua School of Business ($162,834 from $152,297), and Virginia Darden School of Business ($167,899 from $157,090).

Overall, of 63 B-schools with growth in their average base salaries in 2023, 17 saw double-digit growth.

Meanwhile, 25 schools saw negative growth, with the biggest decline occurring at Hawaii Shidler College of Business, which dropped from $98,743 to $64,591, a decline of 34.6%. Texas-Dallas Jindal School of Management also dropped significantly, from $123,163 to $108,057, a decline of 12.3%.

LOWEST AVERAGE SALARIES IN 2023 AT THE P&Q TOP 100

2024 P&Q Rank School Average Salary 2023
84 South Florida (Muma) $54,867
85 Mississippi $59,587
95 Detroit Mercy $60,630
86 Hawaii (Shidler) $64,591
81 Charleston $66,643
99 Louisiana State (Ourso) $70,315
66 Kentucky (Gatton) $73,032
97 Willamette (Atkinson) $74,418
98 Rochester (Saunders) $74,491
67 Iowa State (Ivy) $74,952
Source: U.S. News & World Report

BONUS ROUND: THE SKINNY ON SIGN-ONS

Let’s talk more about bonuses. Namely this: They are far more volatile than salaries in terms of averages and year-to-year comparisons, especially at the lower-ranked B-schools where, because few report signing bonuses, one or two big numbers can boost the average significantly.

Case in point: No. 73 Miami Herbert Business School, which has the highest average bonus at $83,400 — but that’s because but only five grads reported bonuses, and one of them got $300K. The four schools that follow Herbert on the chart all boast big classes and bonuses averaged over a larger group of grads: Washington Foster School of Business (bonus average: $44,537), Georgetown McDonough School of Business ($43,325), Stanford GSB ($42,249), and Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business ($40,139).

The lowest average bonus was at No. 95 Detroit Mercy ($2,500); the lowest in the top 25 was at Florida Warrington ($26,276). Across the top 100 schools, 25 schools reported bonus averages of $35K or more in 2023, up from 14 schools in 2022.

In the top 10, the highest average bonus was a foreign grad at Cornell Johnson ($44,146), while the highest low was a foreign grad at Virginia Darden ($10,000). More on bonuses:

At 27 B-schools, the foreign bonus high was higher than the U.S. high; at 33, the foreign bonus low was higher than the U.S. low. At 45 schools, the foreign bonus average was higher than the U.S. average. But at the school with the biggest differential, the tables were turned: Pepperdine Graziadio Business School‘s U.S. grad average was $41,429 in 2023, while its foreign grads averaged just $8,500.

BIGGEST YEAR-OVER-YEAR GROWTH IN SALARY AVERAGE AT THE P&Q TOP 100

2024 P&Q Rank School Average Salary 2023 Average Salary 2022 Y-O-Y Growth
87 Kansas $89,398 $68,780 30.0%
76 Buffalo (SUNY) $87,309 $70,938 23.1%
50 Ohio State (Fisher) $129,409 $106,779 21.2%
75 North Carolina State (Poole) $111,607 $95,606 16.7%
44 Minnesota (Carlson) $141,471 $121,882 16.1%
98 Rochester (Saunders) $74,491 $64,800 15.0%
46 Southern Methodist (Cox) $134,593 $117,687 14.4%
52 Pittsburgh (Katz) $117,555 $102,965 14.2%
Source: U.S. News & World Report

THE TROUBLE WITH BONUSES

Did we mention that bonuses are hard to compare year to year? Here are some good examples why: The biggest average bonus growth from 2022 to 2023 occurred at North Carolina A&T Deese, where it grew 453.8% from $3,250 to $18,000 — because only one person reported a bonus last year. Likewise, at Miami Herbert, the bonus average jumped 262% to $83,400 from $23,000 — because just five people reported bonuses and one of them made bank with $300K.

Similarly, at Kansas, bonus average grew 166.7% to $6,000 from $2,250, but only three grads reported a bonus; at Chapman Argyros School of Business, it’s up 125% to $26,821 from $11,910, with only seven reporting (and one of them got $125K); at Denver Daniels College of Business, up 102% to $17,544, based on nine reporters; at George Washington School of Business, up 89.3% to $37,958, with 12 grads reporting; at Colorado Leeds School of Business, up 63.4% to $17,308, with 13 reporting.

More modest gains can be found in the larger programs: In the top 10, Stanford is tops with a 25.4% increase to $42,249 from $33,684; in the top 25, Georgetown McDonough (19.2%, $43,325 from $36,342) and UNC Kenan-Flagler (13.8%, $34,555 from $30,359) lead the way.

Just as bonus growth is hostage to the size of a reporting cohort, so too with bonus declines: Of 17 schools with negative bonus growth, the biggest drop-offs are at small programs: Houston Bauer College of Business was down 56.8% to $14,326; Baruch Zicklin School of Business was down 47.4% to $16,543; Kentucky Gatton College of Business and Economics was down 46.3% to $6,701; Willamette Atkinson Graduate School of Management was down 40.2% to $7,280.

Overall, of the 60 B-schools that saw bonus growth from 2022 to 2023, 37 saw double-digit growth, and five saw triple-digit growth (to be taken with a grain of salt, to be sure). Of the 25 that saw declines, 18 were by double digits. Twelve schools were down in both average bonus and average salary — with Harvard the highest-ranked of that group.

See the next pages for complete data on high and low salaries and bonuses for U.S. citizen and international graduates of the top 100 U.S. business schools.

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