Stanford Graduate School of Business Dean Jonathan Levin lauded the adaptability and resilience of graduates of his school’s newest MBA class last month to mark the release of Stanford’s 2021 employment report. But the words Levin chose can apply to almost any MBA from the best B-schools in the United States.
“More than any other class,” says Levin, “The 2021 class learns how to deal with ambiguity and uncertainty, as well as adapt and be resilient. We’re excited to see how they apply what they’ve learned, continuing into outstanding roles across a wide range of industries.”
A year apart from the deepest impact of the coronavirus pandemic, Stanford is one of many success stories in the MBA employment field. It’s definitely not alone. Most schools in Poets & Quantity The top 25 reported steady or increasing salaries, and every of the 23 schools for which data were available reported a — sometimes dramatic — spike in both job offers and admissions.
BIGGEST SALARY JUMP: RICE JONES & MICHIGAN ROSS
Stanford, again, reports the highest median starting salary of all the leading US B schools, at $161,831; Among other schools reporting averages, the next closest is New York University’s Stern School of Business, just under $150K (see page 2 for all salary data from the top 25 schools). But with a median starting salary of $158,400, Stanford surpasses the 10 B schools reporting medians as well, including the University of Chicago Booth School of Business ($155K), Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania ($155K), Harvard School of Business ($150,500), and Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management ($150K). The lowest starting salary in the top 25 is a median of $120K at the Indiana University Kelley School of Business, or a median of $125,130 at the Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management.
Stanford didn’t, however, have the biggest raises: The difference was claimed by Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business, which saw a more than 6% jump to $131,384; or, if you prefer the median, the University of Michigan Ross School of Business, where starting salary grew to $144K from $135K (6.7%). And Stanford missed out on the average sign-on bonus, one of 10 B-schools to do so but was by far the worst, slipping more than 10% to $29,148. Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business saw median starting salaries ($142,719) and median entry bonuses ($33,745) fall slightly, although the school median remained flat at $150K (as shown in the table above; see table on page 2 for school average); and the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business, USC Marshall School of Business, UNC Kenan-Flagler Business School, Georgetown McDonough School of Business, and Vanderbilt Owen also experienced small declines in average starting salaries. McDonough’s drop in pay was the steepest, though not too steep at all: a reversal of around 1.6% to $126,107. The schools with the largest sign-on bonuses overall came from New York: NYU Stern ($38,211) and Cornell University Johnson Graduate School of Management ($37,684).
Overall, combining the mean with the median (as a fun thinking exercise!), the median starting salary for all 25 schools is $140,294, about a $2,304 (1.67%) increase over the average starting salary in 2020, i.e. $137,990. Looking at just 15 schools reporting the average, the average was $137,183. In entry bonuses, the average total was $31,780 (meaning: $32,966 across 15 schools), up just $150 from $31,630 the previous year.
BIG BOUNCE-BACK: JOB OFFER & ACCEPTANCE
2020 sees surprising salary stability at a time when placement rates in many schools plummet; 2021 sees those levels rebound while payrolls remain steady. And what a rebound. None of the schools in the top 25 for which data is available — all but two — experienced a decline in either job offers or job acceptance after three months, and several schools experienced remarkable increases.
Penn Wharton leads all B-schools in offer rate, at 99%, followed by Dartmouth Tuck and Duke University Fuqua School of Business, both at 98%, and seven schools with 97% or more: Chicago Booth, Northwestern Kellogg, Virginia Darden, Michigan Ross, Cornell Johnson, Rice Jones, and Vanderbilt Owen. In 2020, the number of schools with 97% or more offerings is zero, the highest being 96% Owen Schools. The biggest increase in offer rates in 2021 came at the UCLA Anderson School of Management, where offers jumped nearly 10 percentage points to 93.1%. Overall, the average supply rate for the 24 schools in P&Tthe rating was 95.9%, up from 91.4% (23 schools).
In terms of acceptance, the largest in 2021, as in 2020, is at the University of Washington Foster School of Business: 97.2%, up from 94.2%. Foster is followed by 97% of Tuck School and several schools behind him (see page 3 for details). UCLA Anderson enjoyed the biggest gains, from 14.4 points to 92.7%; Harvard Business School jumped 9 points to 92%. Overall, the average job acceptance in 2021 is 94%, up from 88.5%.
MBA ‘PROVISION’ FRIENDSHIP
As another Stanford official said P&T Last month, echoing Dean Jonathan Levin, steady rises in MBA salaries and a rebound in placement rates gave 2021 something of a 2019 shine, raising hopes that the global health crisis is finally fading as a major factor in MBA job prospects. Jamie Schein, assistant dean and director of Stanford GSB’s Center for Career Management, echoes the sentiment of many business education graduates breathing a little easier after the second pandemic graduation class—and much more stable and encouraging.
“I’m very happy that our numbers came out as they did,” said Schein. “We had a hunch that it would look similar to 2019, and it did. So for our students, the 2020 report really is where we feel the impact of the pandemic, and from an employment opportunity perspective, it’s nice to see that the Class of 2021 has the odds they’re right. they can really make meaningful choices, and they can land good jobs.”
Again, the Stanford 2021 graduate description may apply to the MBA from any B school last year:
“This is really a testament to them and their tenacity,” says Schein.
See next page for salary and placement data for the top 25 US business schools.
AND DON’T MISS OUR COMPREHENSIVE COVERAGE OF THE MBA EMPLOYMENT REPORT AT LEADING BUSINESS SCHOOLS:
STANFORD GRADUATE SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
UNIVERSITY OF CHICAGO BOOTH SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
WHARTON SCHOOL AT UNIVERSITY OF PENNSYLVANIA
HARVARD BUSINESS SCHOOL
KELLOGG NORTHWESTERN UNIVERSITY SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
MIT SLOAN SCHOOL OF MANAGEMENT
COLUMBIA BUSINESS SCHOOL
UC-BERKELEY HAAS SCHOOL OF BUSINESS
YALE MANAGEMENT SCHOOL
VIRGINIA darden UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL
CORNELL JOHNSON UNIVERSITY GRADUATED MANAGEMENT
MICHIGAN ROSS UNIVERSITY OF BUSINESS
NEW YORK UNIVERSITY BUSINESS SCHOOL
MICHIGAN STATE UNIVERSITY COLLEGE OF BUSINESS