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MBA Degree Pays Off With Higher Salaries & Promotions, Say Graduates

AMBA research shows 94% of MBAs expect senior management roles after graduation with salaries on the up

Tue Dec 11 2018

Recent MBA graduates are optimistic about how their MBAs will increase their salaries, help them progress in their careers, and increase their problem-solving skills in the near future. That’s according to new research from the Association of MBAs (AMBA).

AMBA’s latest research provides fresh insights into how graduates see the next few years of their careers unfolding after doing an MBA. They spoke to 1,591 MBA graduates within their first two years of graduation and found that the overwhelming majority found their MBAs to be worthwhile.

According to AMBA, ‘The findings suggest that graduates believe MBAs will have a transformative impact on their salaries. The study also indicates that even those who do not think they will be earning substantially more still feel that they will reap the benefits of an MBA and, crucially, that this will outweigh the financial cost of completing one.'

The findings demonstrate that MBAs largely see an upwardly mobile career trajectory. 94% see themselves operating at a senior management level in the next few years. More than a fifth of graduates see themselves running their own organization.

‘More than three quarters of MBAs surveyed say that they predict that they will earn 20% more in the next three years and almost half expect to earn at least 50% more within the same timeframe,’ says AMBA.

While this survey is based on MBA graduates' expectations, Will Dawes, research and insight manager at AMBA, stresses that these expectations are not uninformed. “These are intelligent people already looking for jobs and who know the marketplace well. We have asked them how they anticipate the immediate future to keep estimates realistic.”

AMBA data is backed up by other sources: the recent success of US business schools, like Georgetown McDonough, achieving record employment rates despite various admissions challenges, and Financial Times data from 2018, which shows almost two-thirds of MBA alumni at ranked schools more than doubled their salaries. 

The transformative power of the MBA degree is on show at Rotterdam School of Management in the Netherlands where 71% of the school’s most recent job-searching students changed location after graduation. 66% changed industry; 44% changed role. In their first year after graduation, alumni can expect an average annual salary of over $80,000.

At Hong Kong’s CUHK Business School, 88% of MBA students got jobs offers in Asia after graduation—an increasing number of them international representing 14 different countries. 31% of the class are women.

Interestingly, according to AMBA, there is no difference between the percentage change that men and women foresee in their post-MBA salaries. While further research needs to be done to establish if the percentage increase in men's and women's salaries is indeed the same, it does indicate that the benefits of an MBA are proportional in men and women, despite the gender pay gap.

“We are not trying to blindly suggest men and women are paid the same for the same jobs,’ says Will, “but it’s encouraging that the real impact of an MBA as a percentage change of salary is positive in terms of how business schools are upskilling men and women.”

The study also highlights how many recent graduates are motivated to complete an MBA in order to change sectors. Almost half (48%) of all graduates believe they are likely to change sector in the next year.

The most popular desired transition is into consultancy (19%), although a wide range of sectors were mentioned including banking and financial services (8%), IT (6%), energy (5%), healthcare (5%), consumer goods (5%), the not-for-profit sector (4%), marketing (4%), food and drink (3%), education (3%) and government-related work (3%).

Will sees a link between the confidence to change sectors and tangible skills from the MBA, as well as learning and empowerment that the experience provides. The research shows that seven out of 10 MBAs are more confident about themselves, seven out of 10 MBAs surveyed think they can innovate to their organization work better, and seven out of 10 also believe they can and make organizations more efficient.

Student Reviews






One of a kind

I studied Bioinformatics at CUHK last year. It was the only Master's degree in Hong Kong in this field. This program developed my analytical skills and equipped me to be a Bioinformatician in a very practical way. I enjoyed my year here and met classmates from different parts of the world. If you are thinking to enhance your profile, this degree program would be a good option.




On Campus

general education courses, unique college system, large campus

The university facilitates multi-dimension and interdisciplinary learning. In social science faculty, we need to choose courses as our faculty package from other departments (architecture, psychology, sociology, etc.) to learn more than our major required courses. We are also required to finish general education courses, which aid our critical thinking and humanistic sensibilities. I do recommend the social science broad-based program, and the professors I met so far are all responsible and erudite.





The faculty of law is relatively new. You do not need to have a LLB to pursue a LLM, which is special. The taught programme is great for mature students who want to obtain legal knowledge. CUHK has good teaching staff too.




Amazing Campus and Great Educational Environment

Not only is CUHK's main campus breathtaking, it provides for a good educational environment for students. The university is well-equipped with modern and up-to-date facilities to help students with their study. We have 8 libraries in total around the campus; one for media, one for architectural studies, the medical library and the law library. The Professors are always helpful and are happy to talk to students when needed. Moreover, the college system within the university brings forth the uniqueness of CUHK. Each student belongs to a different college, and in that students are able to meet different peoples from different countries and students from different faculties. I think CUHK provides for a well-rounded university life for all students.





One of the most down to earth places in HK. A great opportunity to learn and embody the local culture. Also had one the most beautiful campus in Hong Kong up on the hillside. Glad to have graduated here.




Innovative and Supportive

My university provided me with all the support I needed, and encouraged me to be up to date with all the new developments in the world. They also provided me with the incentive to excel at what I do, and they take much pride in my achievements. I have had a very rewarding university experience.




Small, New But Friendly Law School

To being with, I think the campus of CUHK is the best and the biggest in Hong Kong, with fresh air and trees everywhere. I am an undergraduate Law student at CUHK and I think the teaching here is great, with very friendly and nice professors and the new Lee Shau Kee Building. In terms of the courses offered by CUHK, as one of the largest universities in Hong Kong, CUHK is an all-rounded university, offering a wide range of courses to students. Students may take the introductory courses of discipline other than their own major, or even declare a minor. For law electives, due to the small amount of intake, the variety of law electives are not that huge. However, the Faculty is offering some international programmes, which can be treated as law electives, but at the same time, provide us with an opportunity to travel and know more about the legal system of another country. The career support from the Faculty of Law is also amazing. The Faculty will organise CV Sessions and talks on how to get an internship from law firms or mini-pupillage from barrister's chambers. Each student will also have a Distinguished Professional Mentor, which is a current legal profession, providing us with practical advices and updates of the legal field. Finally, from my personal experience, I think the students in CUHK are friendly and genuine. As Law students, competition is inevitable for grades, GPAs, vacation schemes and training contract. However, I think the competition in CUHK Law School is a positive one, in a sense that help us grow together, instead of fighting with each other no matter what. That is the biggest reason why I am having a very good time here in CUHK Law School.




A place to explore your interests

As a law graduate from CUHK (both undergrad and post-grad), I realise that I had many opportunities to explore my areas of interests (legal and non-legal both). The faculty/university requires us to take a certain number of non-law electives, and offers a plethora of courses to choose from. Personally, I took 3 modules in Korean --I can't say it's made me highly proficient, but it's definitely given me a good foundation (I can walk into a Korean restaurant and confidently order food, at the very least). The fact that language courses are offered also provides students who are more financially constrained an opportunity to learn a language without having to shell out a premium for a decent language course. On top of that, we have a range of law electives as well. I know of classmates who have developed lasting interest in different areas of law because of the electives they took in school. The two electives that I would say have changed me is (i) mooting and (ii) family law. I think my experience in an international commercial arbitration moot competition has helped tremendously in formulating legal arguments and legal writing. On the other hand, taking a family law elective has made me very interested in the family law practice, especially in terms of child rights. For these experiences which I have gained, I'm grateful for the opportunities provided by the school. One main issue most students I know have is with the way our GPA is calculated and the lack of transparency in terms of how the honours system works. As our GPA is marked on a curve. it's highly unrepresentative of what we have achieved as individuals. Given that our GPA is the only criteria that is looked at when we apply for the compulsory post-graduate law course (mandatory should we want to practise law and/or be trainees in Hong Kong), it will put our own students at a distinct disadvantage when we compete for limited spaces with students from schools where GPA is not on a bell curve.




On Campus

Valuable time in CUHK

I like the learning environment and people at CUHK. Surrounded by hills and Tolo Harbour, CUHK provides a balance between nature and hustle. You can always escape from the busy study life and meet your friend around the big campus for different activities.