2021 has been the bounce-back year for post-MBA career outcomes. The jobs market dropped in 2020 as coronavirus spread, but hiring has returned to pre-pandemic levels. And, as companies try to build up their management talent pipeline, competition for MBA grads is rising, driving up post-MBA salaries at many top business schools.
Not only are base salaries rising in line with job placement rates, but freshly-minted MBAs are enjoying massive signing bonuses and also performance awards, especially in the investment banking industry. However, salaries have risen across the board in the past year, with consulting firms and tech companies — the rare winners in the pandemic — hiring strongly.
At the same time, MBA alumni have stepped up, helping current students in their job searches and the interview processes. Business school career departments have also been active in helping MBA students negotiate higher salary offers.
By far the largest salaries are made by graduates of MBA programs in the US, the world’s largest economy. So we have focused our list on US schools with the highest earning recent alumni.
The average Stanford graduate from the Class of 2021 earned a $158,400 base salary, on top of $67,500 in bonuses, bringing overall starting pay to a whopping $225,000. It was the seventh year in a row that Stanford saw an increase in starting salaries for its freshly minted MBA grads.View School Profile
Wharton’s class of 2021 earned a median salary of $155,000, in a year in which 99 percent of recent graduates received a job offer. The highest-paid graduates worked in legal and professional services, excluding consulting, earning $190,000 on average.View School Profile
More than 28 percent of NYU Stern’s 2021 class went into investment banking, where grads earn big bucks. The median base salary was $175,000, plus a signing bonus of almost $52,000 in banking. The median overall base salary was $155,000, with a joining bonus of $35,000.View School Profile
Harvard Business School says it’s 2021 graduates earned, on average, a $150,000 base salary along with a $30,000 signing bonus and a $37,000 performance bonus. That means shortly after earning a Harvard MBA, alumni are making $217,000 annually.View School Profile
Last year’s base salary at Dartmouth Tuck was $150,000, matching the record set in 2020 despite the economic downturn. Average sign-on bonuses were flat at $30,000, with 86 percent of the cohort receiving a ‘golden hello’ last year, down slightly from the year before.View School Profile
Median salaries and bonuses were flat at MIT Sloan last year at $150,000 and $30,000 respectively. But other compensation such as performance bonuses surged from $11,000 to $34,000, reflecting the high demand for MBAs as the economy recovered.View School Profile
Last year, Darden’s average salary increased 3.6% to $144,933. In the past five years, average salaries have risen by more than $22,000. Signing bonuses have also reached record highs, with last year’s grads taking home $33,266. The school also set a record for placement, with 91 percent of the class employed after three months.View School Profile
Yale’s recent MBA graduates made median starting salaries of $140,400 last year, with a median signing bonus of $30,000. The performance bonus was $22,950, on average. It was consulting firms that paid the highest wages to Yale’s class: $165,00 on average, followed by investment banks which offered higher bonuses of $50,000.View School Profile
Michigan Ross’s 2021 graduates received the highest total salary package in school history: $171,450, a 6 percent increase from 2020. The median base salary was up 6.7 percent at $144,000. Consulting offered the highest median salaries at $165,000, while banks paid the highest bonuses: $47,500 on average.View School Profile
At California’s Berkeley Haas, median salaries leapt by $9,000 last year, reaching $140,000 for the class of 2021, while average bonuses inched upwards to $31,330, a $2,000 increase on the prior year. It was the tech jobs in nearby Silicon Valley that drove overall median salaries up, along with consulting firms.View School Profile