MBA Salaries and Bonuses at Top B Schools in USA


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 won $ 375,000.

In fact, half of the top 26 business schools in the United States said selected graduates were wealthy with base salaries north of $ 200,000 in 2020, while 17 B schools reported unlikely login bonuses of. $ 100,000 or more, based on data provided to American 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.


But these singular successes distract from the bigger story, which is that the MBA salary fell in the coronavirus year of 2020, increasing – where it rose 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% from $ 151,837 to $ 148,704); between 2018 and 2019, only one school (Washington Foster School of Business) suffered this fate.

Overall, salaries in 2020 increased at a rate of 2.3% for the top 26 schools, less than half the growth rate in 2019 (4.9%). See page 2 for more data and details, and compare the numbers to available data on tuition and living costs.


Yet we must answer the burning question: which school can boast 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 pay 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, lives. 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 U.S. citizens who graduated from U.S. B schools, which the data reinforces each year. In this way, 2020 was no different. Only five of 26 schools reported higher foreign salaries 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 may be closing: Last year for this story there were only two schools with higher international salary averages for MBAs.

Stanford has the highest average salary in the United States, at $ 168,475, up 7% from the previous year, when Stanford also had the highest American MBA salary. 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 the CBS brand last year, when it was second behind Wharton (we don’t know data from Wharton or MIT Sloan this year as they declined to participate in 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 American MBA salary in 2020 was $ 137,888, up 2.1% from 2019. The average international MBA salary 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. Regarding 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.


In terms of salary, this can probably be attributed to the pandemic that so many schools – 21 – have seen their base salaries declare a percentage decline. Likewise, 16 schools were down in the percentage of those reporting premiums, although seven schools increased.

When it comes to trends, bonuses and MBA salaries at major US schools are different 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 enrollments, up from 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 not less garish for the foreign MBAs graduating from the main programs: while the average signing bonus the most High for an American MBA was $ 37,077 from NYU Stern, the average overseas MBA from Georgetown McDonough was $ 44,548. Stanford GSB has the highest individual MBA bonus: $ 175,000.

Overall, the average US login bonus 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.


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