Someone at Harvard Business School secured a starting base salary of half a million dollars, while someone at Stanford Graduate School of Business reported a salary of $450,000.
This year, the largest base salary for a U.S. student was reported at the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, while the largest salary for a foreign student came out of Dartmouth College’s Tuck School of Business: both were $325,000, and both were in financial services.
At both Wharton and Columbia Business School, U.S. MBAs earned $150,000 signing bonuses; at Columbia, one foreign national raked in a $165,000 bonus post-MBA. And in other compensation, one U.S. grad from Stanford pulled in an astonishing $450,000, while another U.S. student from Harvard received $350,000.
Some surprises popped up further down the ranking, too. At the University of Texas-Austin McCombs School of Business, one U.S. student reported a sign-on bonus of $122,000 — higher than all but two schools in the top 25, Wharton and Columbia. At UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, one foreign student reported “other” compensation of $156,000 — higher than the highest foreign national’s reported base salary from that school ($151,000).
The highest paychecks after graduation usually go to MBAs who were already making big money before arriving on campus — MBAs with records of performance and years of experience in a highly paid field, such as finance at hedge funds, private equity companies, and venture capital firms.
The highest salaries also tend to be located in the Northeast — that’s where New York City is, after all. That was the case for the Class of 2017 at both Harvard and Chicago Booth, which tied for No. 1 in the new U.S. News ranking, and at No. 3 Wharton, No. 5 MIT Sloan School of Management, and No. 6 Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management. No. 4 Stanford, No. 7 UC-Berkeley Haas School of Business, and No. 16 UCLA Anderson School of Management — feeder schools for the Silicon Valley tech and startup revolution — boasted large salaries in tech on the West Coast to go with the standard high finance/consulting figures.
Generally, U.S. students are continuing to make more money than their foreign colleagues. At Wharton, the difference in high salaries is $325,000 to $238,600. At Harvard, it’s $300,000 to $250,000. At Stanford, $285,000 to $250,000. You have to go down to Dartmouth Tuck, which had that gaudy $325,000 foreign salary (compared to the top U.S. student salary of $199,400) to find an exception. A little further down and you’ll find a real eyebrow-raiser: the top U.S. salary at Berkeley Haas is $185,000, while the top foreign salary is $300,000. At Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, the high salaries are identical: $152,500. Same for Texas McCombs ($150,000). At Georgetown University McDonough School of Business, U.S. students topped out at $150,000, while one foreign student reported a base salary of $170,000.
At Wharton, where the top bonus in the Class of 2017 was $150,000, the average was just $31,214, but more than three-quarters of MBAs (77.2%) reported receiving some kind of bonus. At Harvard, where the top bonus was $100,000, the average was $29,855, and 69.5% of grads reported getting one. The highest average bonus among the leading schools was at Columbia: $34,481. More than 68% of MBAs out of CBS reported securing a bonus. The highest percentage of grads getting a bonus: 82.2% at Dartmouth Tuck, which translates to 175 students. The lowest: 50.7% at Stanford GSB, or 103 of the Class of 2017.
Stanford grads had the highest average base pay of any top-25 school — $144,455 — and tied with Wharton for the highest overall starting pay (salary plus bonus) at $159,815.