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New Survey Reveals Average MBA Starting Salary And Highest Paying Masters Degrees

Wondering how much you can earn after business school? This survey breaks down the average MBA starting salary and lists the highest paying Masters degrees in the US

Fri Jun 28 2024

Landing a place at business school could see you earn more than $70,000 straight after graduation, according to a new survey from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC). 

Several Masters degree types help students earn significantly more than that, while if you’re a more experienced candidate and choose to enroll in an MBA you could earn six figures in your first role post-graduation, the study also revealed. 

The 2024 Corporate Recruiters Survey quizzed more than 900 recruiters—over half of whom were responsible for hiring at Fortune 100 or 500 companies—about their perspectives and plans for business school graduates today. It covered trends such as the importance of artificial intelligence for employers, recruiters' views of online education, and the most desirable...


The survey asked respondents to estimate the average base starting salaries they would pay new hires of various program types including Masters degrees in finance, management, and accounting. It also delved into employers’ hiring expectations for the year ahead. 

What is the average MBA starting salary and what are the highest paying Masters degrees? 

The median starting salary for graduates of MBA programs across the US is $120,000, the survey revealed. 

Of course, this figure will fluctuate considerably between institutions. Some of the most prestigious institutions such as M7 schools Wharton and Harvard Business School see grads earn more than twice that on average

Unsurprisingly, as a degree that caters to professionals who already have experience before enrollment, the MBA is also the program that helps business school students earn the most after graduation. Most pre-experience Masters degrees will be populated with students who have little (maximum two-years) to no work experience. 

Among the pre-experience programs, the list of the highest paying Masters degrees is dominated by four popular programs. The generalist Master in Management (MiM), and the more specialized Master in Finance (MiF), Master in Business Analytics (MSBA), and Master in Data Analytics all have a median graduate starting salary across the US of $80,000. 

They are closely followed by the Master of Marketing, which helps graduates earn median starting salaries of $79,500. The lowest paying of all of the programs that were assessed during the survey was the Master of Accounting (MAcc), which helps grads earn $75,000 on average. 

Revealing the value of a graduate business degree, the survey compared the average starting salary of graduates of Masters degrees versus bachelor’s programs, finding that undergrads earn less at around $69,000. 

What are recruiters’ hiring plans for 2024? 

Corporate recruiters taking part in the survey also revealed their plans to hire MBA and Masters graduates in 2024, highlighting whether they expected to increase, decrease, or maintain their hiring levels when compared with 2023. 

MBA hiring stood out prominently ahead of the rest of the program types: as many as 36% of recruiters said they had plans to increase hiring in 2024. Data analytics and business analytics followed, with 32% of recruiters planning to up hiring from these program types. The Master of Finance proved less attractive to recruiters (28%), while 27% of recruiters planned to increase hiring of MiM, MAcc, and Master of Marketing grads, respectively. 

It was a similar story when it came to recruiters who planned to maintain hiring levels. This figure stood at 43% for MBA grads, higher than grads of MiMs (40%) and MiFs (37%). In total, 35% of recruiters planned to maintain their hiring levels of MAcc, Master of Data Analytics, and Masters of Marketing grads. A further 34% had plans to keep hiring of MSBA grads the same as in 2023. 

In terms of recruiters who planned to reduce hiring or not hire any graduates at all, the percentage was lowest for MBA programs (21%). This was followed by MiM and Master in Data Analytics degrees (33%). MAcc and MSBA degrees were less in favor among 34% of recruiters, respectively, while the Master of Marketing (37%) and MAcc (37%) were  the degree types where recruiters were most likely to reduce or avoid hiring graduates.