MBA students who graduated this year can expect to earn a salary of around $105,000, according to the Graduate Management Admission Council's (GMAC) latest Corporate Recruiters Survey.
GMAC gathered data from 712 employers in February 2020, and data from a further 232 employers in June, after the effects of the coronavirus pandemic took hold. These employers represented a range of industries and geographies, but the majority (80%) were based in the United States.
Back in May, the National Association of Colleges and Employers predicted a 30% drop in MBA salary prospects in 2020 compared with 2019. Over the past few months, however, this outlook has improved.
Salary by Program
MBA graduates continue to command the highest salaries of any graduate management program.
At the start of the year, employers expected to pay MBA hires a median salary of $115,000. Although this median has since dropped to $105,000, it still outstrips the average salaries of graduates from other business school programs.
In February 2020, employers reported that Master in Management and Master of Accounting graduates would be paid a median salary of $75,000. Graduates from Master of Data Analytics and Master of Finance programs can expect a higher salary, however—with medians of $85,000 and $80,000 respectively.
The marked difference between MBA and Masters salaries likely reflects the difference in average years’ experience.
Most MBA students join the program with several years experience behind them, while business master's students often come to programs earlier in their career.
Salary by industry
GMAC's survey also revealed which industries pay MBA graduates the highest salaries.
Consulting takes the lead, paying a median salary of $145,000, ranging as high as $165,000 for the top 25% of earners in the industry.
MBAs working in technology and finance can both expect an average starting salary of $115,000.
Confidence in MBA hires
Overall, employers continue to place a premium on graduate management education, and despite taking a dip, graduate salaries reflect this.
According to GMAC’s data, the vast majority of employers—86%—do not plan on reducing salaries, benefits, or bonuses for business school grads hired in 2020, emphasizing the value they perceive in business school qualifications.
The skills that business school helps foster may be especially important during periods of crisis.
Abilities like critical thinking, communication, and managing technological disruption are expected to be at the top of employers’ wish lists as the ongoing pandemic continues to push the pace of change in almost every industry.