The garish numbers sometimes mask broader trends.
In 2020, a newly graduated MBA from Stanford Graduate School of Business accepted a job in financial services in the West for a base salary of $ 400,000. Two Harvard Business School MBAs reported starting salaries of $ 375,000 – one, notably, at a nonprofit. At Columbia Business School, an international MBA in finance also brought in $ 375,000.
In fact, half of the top 26 business schools in the United States said some graduates got rich on base salaries north of $ 200,000 in 2020, while 17 B schools reported unlikely signing bonuses of $ 100,000 or more, based on data provided to US News and World Report for its 2022 ranking. This latter group includes an UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School MBA who earned a bonus of $ 250,000, the highest reported.
MBA PAY SLUMP DURING THE PANDEMIC
But these singular successes distract from the bigger story, namely that the MBA salary fell in the year 2020 of the coronavirus, increasing – where it grew up at all – more slowly than in previous years and not keeping up with the ever-increasing cost of the diploma.
Nine schools saw their total salaries drop from 2019 to 2020, including two schools in Southern California, USC Marshall School of Business (-3.3% from $ 155,267 to $ 150,191) and UCLA Anderson School of Management (-2, 1% of $ 151,837 to $ 148,704); between 2018 and 2019, only one school (Washington Foster School of Business) suffered this fate.
Overall, compensation in 2020 increased at a rate of 2.3% for the top 26 schools, less than half the growth rate of 2019 (4.9%). See page 2 for more data and details, and compare the numbers to available data on tuition and living expenses.
BASIC MBA SALARIES: GET GRANULAR
Nonetheless, we have to answer the burning question: which school can boast of having the highest overall salary in 2020? In a small surprise, the NYU Stern School of Business – which has countered the trend of growing its MBA by more than 4% to $ 175,157 – is claiming the crown. Stanford GSB, still near the top, is the only other school to cross the $ 170,000 salary threshold, followed by Dartmouth Tuck School of Business ($ 169,598), Northwestern Kellogg School of Management ($ 168,837) and the Chicago Booth School of Business ($ 167,909). See above for details.
Poets and quants is as guilty as any when it comes to optimistic predictions about the value of the MBA. But that’s because there’s a lot of history showing the power of the degree to improve careers – and with it, life. Even amid the challenges of a year disrupted by a global pandemic, no other two-year educational journey comes close.
This is more true, however, for US citizens who have graduated from US B schools, which the data reinforces each year. In this way, 2020 was no different. Only five of 26 schools reported a higher foreign average salary than the United States: Cornell Johnson Graduate School of Management, UNC Kenan-Flagler, Indiana Kelley School of Business, and Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business. But the gap can be narrowed: Last year for this story there were only two schools with higher international MBA salary averages.
Stanford has the highest average salary in the United States, at $ 168,475, up 7% from the previous year, while Stanford also had the highest MBA salary in the United States. GSB was followed by HBS ($ 155,061), Chicago Booth ($ 149,454), Columbia ($ 146,375) and Tuck ($ 146,192). Columbia, meanwhile, reported the highest foreign MBA salary, at $ 146,244. That’s a 3.2% increase from CBS last year, when it was second behind Wharton (we don’t know data from Wharton or MIT Sloan this year because they declined to participate. at US News‘ ranking). CBS was followed on the overseas MBA salary list by Booth ($ 143,959), HBS ($ 141,974), Cornell ($ 139,044) and Stern ($ 139,024).
In total, the average salary for an MBA in the United States in 2020 was $ 137,888, up 2.1% from 2019. The average salary for an international MBA was $ 131,709, up 3.6%. In the top 10, the average MBA salary in the United States is $ 149,065, up 3.6% from $ 143,911 in 2019, and around 10% since 2018. As for the salary of the Foreign MBA, the top 10 schools averaged $ 138,532, up 3% from $ 134,565 and up 8.5% in two years.
MBA BONUS: GET GRANULAR
In terms of salary, it can probably be attributed to the pandemic that so many schools – 21 – have seen the percentage of reporting base salary decline. Likewise, 16 schools saw a drop in the percentage of those reporting bonuses, while seven schools were up.
When it comes to trends, MBA bonuses and salaries at major US schools are dissimilar on one major point: Foreign MBAs tend to do much better on the bonus front. The number of schools with foreign enrollments higher than the US average is 19 out of 26. That number has grown from 13 schools last year. Five schools reported an average of $ 40,000 or more in foreign signings, compared to one school last year; no school had such high figures to report for their US graduates, in 2019 or 2020. The specific figures are also no less conspicuous for foreign MBAs graduating from major programs: while the average signing bonus the most High for an American MBA was $ 37,077 from NYU Stern. Georgetown McDonough’s foreign MBA average was $ 44,548. Stanford GSB has the highest individual foreign MBA bonus: $ 175,000.
Overall, the average US enrollment premium for the 24 schools for which we have data is $ 31,635, up 2.3% from $ 30,926 last year. The overall international MBA average across the 24 schools was $ 35,168, up 12.1% from $ 31,370. In the top 10, US MBAs averaged $ 32,720, up about 7%; Foreign MBAs averaged $ 36,307, up 8.8%.
See the following pages for complete 2020 salary and bonus data for major MBA programs in the United States.
AND DON’T MISS THE HIGHEST MBA DIPLOMAS OF THE 25 BEST SCHOOLS (2020) AND STILL ON THE RISE: IN 2020, MBA SALARIES CONTINUE TO GROW
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