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Duke: Best Career Year Since Great Recession

Duke University's Fuqua School of Business

Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business

Sheryle Dirks of the Fuqua School

Sheryle Dirks of the Fuqua School

Just days after achieving its first ever No. 1 ranking, Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business said that its forthcoming employment report for the Class of 2014 contains the best pay and job stats since the Great Recession hit six years ago. The report will be published early next week.

Fuqua, which topped Bloomberg Businessweek’s 2014 ranking of the best full-time MBA programs in the U.S., said that 94% of its graduates had job offers three months after commencement, up from 91% a year earlier, while 87% had at least one job offer at graduation, up from 81% last year.

The school said the median starting salary for the class was $111,000, up from $110,000 a year earlier, while the median sign-on bonus was $25,000, and median other year-end guaranteed bonus was $15,000.

Average base salaries also tilted higher, just over $114,000, a hair over a 1.5% increase.

“Overall, it’s been a good year, probably the best year since the Great Recession,” said Sheryle Dirks, associate dean of recruiting and operations for Fuqua’s career management center. “You can measure best by lots of different ways but particularly as it relates to students with multiple offers being in the position to make choices.”


She noted that a good number of students—including several who only recently landed jobs—received multiple offers. “A  student who accepted in October had two, and another graduate in late October had three offers,” added Dirks. “That is a good sign for prospective students. In lots of industries there is appetite for MBAs in a wide diverse of industries.”

A larger percentage of companies also dangled bigger carrots in front of the class to get them to accept their offers. “The biggest jump we saw was in other guaranteed compensation, reported by 68% of the class. We saw a lot more students report it—39% more graduates reported it so that is a big jump from one year to the next and they were reporting more. the average was  $22,408.”

The more significant shift in the stats was a substantial increase in the number of graduating MBAs who accepted jobs in the technology industry. In a single year, tech industry employment doubled to 20% in 2014, up from just 10% a year earlier. That allowed the tech sector to eclipse finance as the second most popular industry for Fuqua grads. Finance grabbed 17% of the class, down from 19% a year earlier. The decline occurred even as JPMorgan Chase and Bank of America doubled their Fuqua hires this year, each taking eight members of the Class of 2014.


The high tech jump was partially fueled by Amazon, Apple, and Google, all of which at least doubled their number of hires from the school. Apple hired nine graduating MBAs, up from 4 last year, while Amazon brought abroad eight Fuqua MBAs, twice as many as the four it hired in 2013. Search giant Google went from one full-time hire last year to six in the Class of 2014.

“Ten percentage points in one year is a really big swing,” said Dirks. “That was probably the most notable difference. It’s a combination of demand plus interest. It’s also an interesting bifurcation of employers. You certainly have Microsoft, Amazon, Apple and Google at the top in terms of the numbers, but then you’ve also got small startups.”

For the Class of 2014 at Fuqua, consulting was still far and away the number one employer of MBAs. Some 30% of the class became consultants, just a tad down from 31% in 2013. All the major consulting firms were among Fuqua’s top ten employers this year, with the Big Three–McKinsey, BCG and Bain–taking 32 of the graduates in the class. “Interest in that industry is still extremely high,” said Dirks. “For us on the full-time side, investment banking held pretty true to form. It was 9% of the graduating class, and it was pretty comparable from one year to the next. It was 12% of the intern class.


“We are seeing investment banking interest hold pretty consistent among our students right now. What we are starting to see is a little more interest in those other areas of finance, especially corporate finance and private wealth. As a whole, 26% of the intern class went to work in a finance role and about 24% of the full-time graduates went into finance.”

This year’s top five employers were Deloitte, Boston Consulting Group, McKinsey, Microsoft, and PricewaterhouseCoopers. Deloitte hired 19 full-time MBAs, while BCG took away 13 and McKinsey 12. Apple was again in Fuqua’s top ten employers, coming in at eight place for hiring nine full-time MBAs and six interns. Apple CEO Tim Cook has an MBA from Fuqua. “A new entry in the top ten was Amazon,” said Dirks.  “That was a good one to see.”

Most of the tech industry gains apparently came out of finance, consumer goods, manufacturing, and retail. Fuqua said that 8% of the class went into consumer goods, down from 13%; 2% accepted jobs with manufacturing firms, down from 5%, and 2% landed positions with retail companies, also down from 5% a year earlier. Yet, Walmart hired eight MBAs from Fuqua this year, up from none in 2013.

How Fuqua’s Class of 2014 Compares

With Other Top Business Schools


School Median Base Sign-on Bonus Other Bonus Jackpot Graduation Offers Offers 3 Months Later
Harvard $125,000 $25,000 $34,700 $184,700 NA NA
Stanford $125,000 $25,000 $31,500 $181,500 80% 94%
Wharton $125,000 $25,000 $27,000 $177,000 88% 98%
Dartmouth (Tuck) $116,000 $25,000 $25,000 $166,000 91% 98%
Michigan (Ross) $115,000 $25,000 $16,750 $156,750 89% 93%
Duke (Fuqua) $111,000 $25,000 $15,000 $151,000 87% 94%
Cornell (Johnson) $106,000 $25,000 $12,500 $143,500 87% 92%
UCLA (Anderson) $110,000 $25,000 $15,000 $150,000 75% 90%
Virginia (Darden) $110,000 $25,000 $9,500 $144,500 89% 94%
UNC (Kenan-Flagler) $100,000 $25,000 $16,625 $141,625 81% 92%
Texas-Austin (McCombs) $105,000 $25,000 $12,600 $142,600 80% 94%
Emory (Goizueta) $100,000 $25,000 $12,500 $137,000 90.4% 98.0%
Vanderbilt (Owen) $100,000 $15,000 $12,000 $127,000 83% 94%

Source: Business school employment reports & P&Q reporting

Notes: Jackpot refers to graduates receiving the median of all three forms of compensation: salary, signing bonus, and other year-end guaranteed bonus. Not all graduates are given all three. At Stanford, for example, sign-on bonuses this year were collected by half the class, while 38% of the MBAs received other year-end guaranteed compensation.

Differences in pay often reflect industry choices and geography. Stanford’s higher median base can largely be attributed to the fact that 12% of this year’s class went into private equity, which currently pays the most lucrative comp packages to MBAs. The median PE starting base salary this year was $170,000. At Tuck, for example, only 4% of this year’s class went into private equity and the base for those PE jobs was just $120,000.