Careers

An MBA is still a great boost for salaries

Harvard Business School students. (File photo).
Brian Snyder | Reuters
Harvard Business School students. (File photo).

A top MBA is a significant investment. The program for Stanford Graduate School of Business costs more than $145,000 in tuition fees. Students tell us that the main reason they study for an MBA qualification is to increase their salary. Personal development, interpersonal skills and ethics matter to them, but students still expect a return on investment.

MBA students had a tougher ride after the financial crisis of 2008. Between 2008 and 2014, the average salary of MBA graduates three years after they left business school increased by just 4 percent to $127,000. At the same time, the average cost of two-year MBAs increased by 44 percent to $104,000.

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Salaries have since picked up to reach an average of $142,000 in 2017, up 12 percent on 2014, and early data analysis from the 2018 ranking indicate that salaries are still increasing. Average alumni salaries have increased year on year for about three-quarters of schools.

Average salaries increased by $7,000 in 2017, the largest increase in absolute terms in more than 12 years. All sectors apart from three — education, transport and logistics and law — saw average salaries increase.

The biggest year-on-year increases were in the healthcare and industrial sectors, both up 10 percent to average about $143,000. Salaries in these two sectors are down in 2018.

If the latest trend continues, the overall average salary should be near to $150,000 in 2018.

We also measure salary increases over pre-MBA levels. Every year up to 2014 and since we began collecting data, MBA graduates always at least doubled their salaries within three years of completing their degree.

Alumni from Chicago's Booth School of Business hold the record for the highest salary jump since our records began: up 252 percent in the 2002 ranking during the heyday of the dotcom boom.

But the overall average salary boost fell for the first time below 100 percent to 93 percent in 2015 as average pre-MBA salaries increased much faster than post-MBA salaries. That same year, alumni from Stanford Graduate School of Business had their lowest salary increase at only 80 percent.

The global average salary increase moved back above 100 percent again in 2017. Just over half of all ranked schools had salary increases greater than 100 percent. In 2018, almost two-thirds of alumni cohorts more than doubled their salaries.

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This article originally appeared on the Financial Times.