MBA Pay for 2019 Grads From Top 50 Ranked MBA Programs

Average Base Salary & Signing Bonus Pay for 2019 graduates of top 50 MBA programs :

  1. $172,000 Penn-Wharton

  2. $168,000 NYU-Stern

  3. $168,000 Stanford

  4. $166,000 Dartmouth-Tuck

  5. $165,000 Harvard

  6. $165,000 Columbia

  7. $165,000 Virginia-Darden

  8. $165,000 Chicago-Booth

  9. $164,000 Northwestern-Kellogg

  10. $162,000 Cornell-Johnson

  11. $161,000 Duke-Fuqua

  12. $160,000 MIT-Sloan

  13. $160,000 UCal-Berkeley (Haas)

  14. $157,000 Michigan-Ross

  15. $155,000 USC-Marshall

  16. $153,000 Yale-SOM

  17. $152,000 UCLA-Anderson

  18. $150,000 Emory-Goizueta

  19. $149,000 CMU-Tepper

  20. $149,000 UNC-Keenan-Flagler

  21. $148,000 Georgetown-McDonough

  22. $147,000 Univ. of Texas at Austin (McCombs)

  23. $145,000 Rice-Jones

  24. $145,000 Univ. of Washington-Foster

  25. $142,000 Georgia Tech

  26. $142,000 URochester-Simon

  27. $138,000 Notre Dame-Mendoza

  28. $136,000 Indiana-Kelley

  29. $135,000 WashUStL

  30. $132,000 SMU-Cox

  31. $132,000 Minnesota-Carlson

  32. $127,000 Boston College-Carroll

  33. $127,000 Texas A&M

  34. $125,000 Wisconsin

  35. $125,000 Penn State

  36. $122,000 Univ. of Florida-Warrington

  37. $121,000 BYU-Marriott

  38. $119,000 Michigan State-Broad

  39. $119,000 Univ. of Maryland

  40. $118,000 Arizona State Univ. (ASU) Carey

  41. $117,000 Ohio State

  42. $116,000 Univ. of Texas at Dallas-Jindal

  43. $112,000 Univ. of Georgia-Terry

  44. $112,000 Univ. of Tennessee

  45. $109,000 Boston University-Questrom

  46. $103,000 UCal-Davis

  47. $101,000 Univ. of Pittsburgh-Katz

  48. $98,000 Univ. of Utah

  49. $76,000 Univ. of Alabama

The above are the average starting base salary & signing bonus for 2019 graduates of these 2 year full-time MBA programs. Graduates average age at time of starting post-MBA career is about 29 or 30 years old, but could be as young as 25 years old.

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Law School Graduates pay for those securing associate positions in major (Biglaw) firms in major US cities:

Law associates (young lawyers) are paid in lockstep fashion so that each first year associate earns the same as other first year associates, and this lockstep pay pattern continues for the first 8 years in biglaw (typically law firms with 500 or more attorneys in multiple locations). Different locations may be on a lower pay scale if not in a major US city. Each law firm is free to determine how much it pays its associate attorneys, but, due to competition for the best & brightest young attorneys, most biglaw firms pay on the Cravath scale:

Year 1) $190,000 base pay & $15,000 end of year bonus = $205,000

Year 2) $200,000 base & $25,000 bonus = $225,000

Year 3) $220,000 & $50,000 = $270,000 total annual compensation

Year 4) $255,000 base & $65,000 bonus = $320,000 total annual pay

Year 5) $280,000 base & $80,000 bonus = $360,000 annual pay

Year 6) $305,000 base & $90,000 end of year bonus = $395,000 total pay

Year 7) $325,000 base & $100,000 bonus = $425,000 total annual pay

Year 8) $345,000 base & $100,000 bonus = $445,000 total annual pay

Most law firms impose a minimum billable hours requirement in order to earn the full end of year bonus. Some law firms have added a small summer bonus for retention purposes.

Law school is 3 years for those attending full-time. Passing the state bar during one’s first year in the jurisdiction where one works is a job requirement.

Typically first year associates are age 26 to 29, but some are just 25 years old.

Most young attorneys last for only four (4) to five (5) years with their initial law firm. Many lateral to other biglaw firms, while many elect to pursue positions with better work hours and less pressure once their law school student loans are paid off or once they are asked to leave the law firm.

It is a bit unfair to compare MBA pay with biglaw associate attorney pay because different personality types pursue law than those who pursue an MBA.

At the top 15 or so MBA programs, the signing bonus incorporated into the first year total pay averages about $30,000.

I prefer ranking by pay 3 years out:

Ranking the US MBA programs by salary in the Financial Times rankings cited in post #4 above by @PurpleTitan reveals a ranking almost identical to the M-7:

  1. Stanford

  2. Penn-Wharton

  3. Harvard

  4. Columbia

  5. MIT-Sloan

  6. Chicago-Booth

  7. UCal-Berkeley

  8. Northwestern-Kellogg

Yep, and even the 8 non-M7 b-schools that I (and they, generally) consider to be in the top 10 are almost exactly who I thought they would be:

Yale SOM
Cornell Johnson
UMich Ross

Only difference is that the 2 UCs punch (slightly) above their weight. IMO, that is because of the COL on the coasts* and the growth in tech and overall entrepreneurial dynamism on the West Coast. Same dynamic helps out Stanford. The lower COL and lack of tech dynamism in the Midwest are why the Midwestern b-schools are lower in their respective groups.

  • Only big flaw with the FT salary rankings is that they don't adjust for COL, but I can't really hold that against them as it would be nearly impossible to figure out the geographic distribution of all b-school alums in enough granularity.

What is noteworthy is the (rapid) rise of the Asian b-schools and the (slow) fall of the European ones. That also tracks changes in economic dynamism well.
Back in the day (15 years ago), INSEAD and LBS were peers of the M7 in compensation (and no Asian b-school was close). Not so true these days.

MBA Average Base Salaries For 2019 Graduates By School:

Because not all MBA grads receive a signing bonus, I thought that it would be helpful to list just the starting average base salary for 2019 MBA graduates from the top 50 ranked MBA programs:

  1. Stanford GSB–$152,500

  2. UPenn-Wharton–$149,400

  3. Harvard–$146,500

  4. Columbia–$142,200

  5. Chicago-Booth–$140,000

  6. Dartmouth-Tuck–$139,000

  7. MIT-Sloan–$138,500

  8. Northwestern-Kellogg–$138,000

  9. UCal-Berkeley–$138,000

  10. Duke-Fuqua–$135,400

  11. NYU-Stern–$135,300

  12. Virginia-Darden–$135,200

  13. Cornell-Johnson–$131,200

  14. Yale-SOM–$130,000

  15. UCLA-Anderson–$129,600

  16. Michigan-Ross–$129,200

  17. USC-Marshall–$127,500

  18. Emory–$127,300

  19. Rice-Jones–$125,000

  20. UTexas-Austin–$124,700

  21. Georgetown–$124,200

  22. CMU-Tepper–$124,000

  23. UNC-$124,000

  24. Univ. of Washington-Foster–$123,000

  25. Vanderbilt–$120,000

Signing bonuses average about $30,000 for grads of the above schools although not all receive signing bonuses.

Starting base salary information helps prospective applicants to determine whether or not enrolling in a fulltime 2 year MBA program is a good investment of one’s time (lost wages & missed promotions) & money (tuition, fees, room & board).

Total COA (cost-of-attendance)–including tuition, fees, & housing–for the Top 25 MBA Programs listed above:

  1. MIT–$237,600

  2. NYU-Stern–$233,000

  3. Stanford–$232,000

  4. Dartmouth-Tuck–$230,000

  5. UPenn-Wharton–$230,000

  6. Columbia–$230,000

  7. Harvard–$222,000

  8. UCLA–$220,000

  9. Chicago–$218,000

  10. Northwestern-Kellogg–$212,000

  11. UCal-Berkeley–$203,000

  12. Yale-SOM–$201,000

  13. Virginia-Darden–$195,000

  14. Michigan-Ross–$194,000

  15. Duke-Fuqua–$194,000

  16. Cornell-Johnson–$194,000

  17. Rice-Jones–$188,000

  18. Georgetown–$188,000

  19. CMU-Tepper–$188,000

  20. Emory–$185,000

  21. UNC–$184,000

  22. UWash-Foster–$164,300

  23. Texas-Austin–$155,300

  24. Indiana-Kelley–$152,200

The above figures do NOT include lost income for almost 2 full years.

Your source for COA omits private schools like WashUStL, USC and Vanderbilt. Maybe sources are not consistent for various categories?

Not only the lost income, but also the opportunity to be promoted. Sometimes the MBA can make that up, sometimes not.

Omitted schools did not provide cost of housing information.

“Only big flaw with the FT salary rankings is that they don’t adjust for COL, but I can’t really hold that against them as it would be nearly impossible to figure out the geographic distribution of all b-school alums in enough granularity”

No, the big flaw is not accounting for compensation other than base and sign-on. Graduates going into tech- where stock grants or options are a significant chunk of comp- are willing to take lower salaries than someone heading off to J P Morgan…

@blossom, FT says it’s “salary” 3 years out. Not sure if that is total comp or not. But with the numbers where they are (median above $200K for the top schools), I’m going to guess that it is. Not sure how stock and options are accounted for (if at all), though FT also weighs “salary” by industry, so the rankings won’t be skewed by inter-industry differences (though they may be by inter-industry differences; that is, School A may have a lot more grads in tech pulling the same base as School B grads in tech but with much more lucrative equity comp).

I wonder how hard it is to get a good (interesting, reasonably well-paid) job from a non-top-tier MBA program…? Clearly the cost of attendance at the top-tier MBA program is offset by the out-of-the-box high salary. I wonder if you go down the tier if it becomes as worthwhile to pursue the degree…?

At some point, a PT MBA from a good program makes more sense. Though the lower-ranked programs do discount. It really depends on your goals.

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Thanks for the reply, PurpleTitan!

As of now my D doesn’t seem interested in biz that much - but still wants to earn a lot of $$. So we’ll see where that goes!!