Higher Salaries for 2008 MBA Graduates

Posted by: Louis Lavelle on November 13, 2008

Our research for BusinessWeek’s 2008 ranking of full-time MBA programs (which will be released at 5 p.m. today) turned up a really interesting fact. While there were many predictions of gloom and doom for students graduating in 2009, those who graduated this year did surprisingly well for themselves.

My colleague, Geoff Gloeckler, compared the post-MBA salaries for the outgoing class of 2008 with those for the class of 2006, the last time we ranked full-time programs. He discovered that the 2008 salaries averaged $104,000, an increase of 9% and the first time that figure topped $100,000 in the history of the BusinessWeek rankings.

These figures—for salaries only, excluding bonuses, stock options, etc.—are for all the schools participating in the ranking, not just the Top 30. (They’re also based on BusinessWeek’s own survey of grads; this data does not come from the schools, and does not represent the entire class, just a big chunk of it.) While the schools that participate change slightly from ranking to ranking, it’s a fairly stable group, so this is pretty close to an apples-to-apples comparison.

When you look at individual schools, the numbers are even more dramatic. Stanford takes the honors with the highest average post-MBA salary, $125K, up from $110K in 2006, while Harvard ($121K), Wharton ($120K), and Dartmouth ($115K) all jumped about 15%. However, not everyone was rolling in the dough. At New York University the 2008 average post-MBA salary topped out at $95K—no change from 2006—while Yale ($97K) saw a very modest 2% increase.

I suspect that when we do the rankings again in 2010 we’ll have a much different (and far more depressing) tale to tell. So enjoy these numbers while you can. The salary data for all the schools will be available at www.businessweek.com/bschools at 5:30 or so, and the rankings themselves will be officially released at a live chat starting at 5—a link to the chat is on the bschools home page. See you there!

Reader Comments

Maria Mahlangu

November 26, 2008 4:34 AM

Good day,

Since i've started reading your businessweek my life has improved completely.

Thank you for your motivational news.

Maria Mahlangu
South Africa


January 5, 2009 2:25 PM

So is this suggesting that if I had a choice, that I should NOT get an MBA? I am trying to decide between taking the GMAT and applying to an MBA program; taking the LSAT and applying to law school; or, taking several upper levels sciences and retaking the DAT and reapplying to dental school. Any advice? I have a degree in psychology but am not interested in pursuing a career in psychology. Thanks!


March 2, 2009 9:53 AM

salary that we get after doing mba from imms

Dumisa January

March 12, 2009 3:47 AM

Hi,I am a 1st year University student and I want to know what is the best Degree you recomend to be studied even with these tough economic time,so as to ensure that at the end there is still demand for my carrer choice.

Associate Editor Louis Lavelle

March 12, 2009 9:31 AM

That seems to be the question of the moment Dumisa, and not just for you. Nobody really knows what degree will leave you well-positioned 3 or 4 years down the road, mainly because nobody knows what the economy will look like 3 or 4 years down the road. I think it's safe to say that business and engineering have proven to be remarkably good choices over the years, and that once the economy bounces back (and it will, eventually) students who major in either one will once again be in great demand. My advice to anyone just starting out in school: figure out what you're passionate about first, then worry about the job market. If you're not happy in your career choice, all the money in the world isn't going to change that. Good luck!

Louis Lavelle
BusinessWeek Associate Editor

Will Hopkins

May 5, 2009 11:00 AM

I completed my MBA in 2008 with a 3.67 GPA and a certificate of advanced graduate study in strategic marketing management. Despite lower middle management and military experience, a magna cum laude undergrad degree, co-authoring six major research projects with a sociology PhD, and a willingness to uproot to anywhere in the country; after two months on unemployment I took a job at $11.18 an hour. I have applied for dozens of jobs in the $30-40k per year range, and don't usually even hear back. I'm not sure where these numbers are coming from, but six figure starting incomes for MBAs doesn't match up with the job market I have been struggling to survive in. Am I doing something wrong?


May 6, 2009 11:31 PM

What school did you go to for the MBA?


August 31, 2009 10:40 PM

To be honest, Mr. Will Hopkins, the GPAs are great, but I think you may be intimidating the HR dept. a little much with all the sociology, on top of the fact that you are a fresh grad. I would leave out the co-authoring and stick with having the degree. Seek out even MBA internships despite the fact that you have in fact already graduated. They pay FAR more than $11.18 an hour. FedEx for example pays MBA interns $750/wk. This should at least pay the bills until you either get promoted or find a better company to suit your needs.


September 3, 2009 11:08 PM

Sounds like when I got out of the military they made us all believe 100K jobs would fall from the sky. What a bunch of BS. I am starting to think an MBA doesn't mean squat unles you go to a top 30 school. Word is a fresh MBA in the Midwest should pull 80K. I'll believe it when I see it.


September 17, 2009 5:27 AM

So, if you get an MBA from a local school, that is not a top 100 or anything, is it even worth it? I have lots of military experiance. We are always told that it does not matter what school, just have the degree and when you get out you will do well. So, an MBA from Phonix University or something is not even worth the time?

MBA 2005

September 30, 2009 3:40 PM

I have an MBA from Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry University, and I have done well. I haven't made over $70K, but I hope after this downturn, things will turn the corner for me. I have just been hired to teach at a local Liberal Arts 4-year College in the School of Business, and I am working on a book. The thing is, that you never lose hope. The degree is worth as much as you put into it. The top 30, 40, 50 schools are fine. However, I am sure there are graduates out there from Harvard and other top schools who are doing worse than someone from less recognized MBA programs. The bottom line is improve your worth by doing things to reinforce your MBA. A "name" school may get you the job, but it is determination and ambition that dictate how far you travel in life.


November 8, 2009 2:55 AM

Dear reader,

Little words in the survey and big outcomes,unlike the others!keep on learning and enrolling in the MBA courses,increase ur knowledge and make sure ur talent will help the people,of course super talented and most courageous dont need any MBA to run their own entrepreneurship empires...God bless you and Bless corporate America...


November 16, 2009 5:34 PM

Well,for my part at 44,4 kids- 20,19,1 year,and 2 months,I got a BA in 95 with a 3.19 GPA and toiled for months before getting an oncall gig with a state dept of corrections.Gave up after 6 months. Then went back to grad school and got a masters in business and organizational security management,2007,(3.57 gpa). Most pay I ever got was 13.25/hr no benefits. I could not get even a management trainee position with anybody.Then I got tired with that and I am now back in grad school doing MBA/healthcare systems management and will graduate in 09/2009. I have worked as a certified nursing assistant for the last 21 yars and the most I have ever made is $38,000.
With the economy the way it is and my age,I am not very optimistic I will get something but,I must earn that MBA. My university is not the top 30 either. I am jealous and wondering why I am not among those who earn the least amount in the degreed world.I have hardly applied any of my degrees!


January 16, 2010 2:58 AM

Im an Immigrant in Canada from India. You think i will gain anything doing an MBA from a University which offers MBA or Executive MBA online?

What kinda salary can I expect in upto 2 years after I graduate?

MBA 2010

January 26, 2010 2:52 AM

To MBA 2005

Devry is an excellent school for an MBA. Employers recognize it.

Ive just completed my MBA (accounting) from Devry and am now getting plenty of job opportunities at good salaries. Of course i have over 10 years experience in the profession.

I think, however, because of a poor job market today, finding that "dream" job or great opportunity will take time. The main thing is getting prepared and posistioning yourself for it. And don't get up searching. Persistance pays off.


January 30, 2010 4:47 AM

its the greatest business news in the world


February 16, 2010 6:15 PM

I'm a 2005 graduate of Keller Graduate School of Management of DeVry. I graduated with an MBA and a Master's in Network and Communications Management. I think my MBA has helped open doors but as some of the other posters have alluded too, experience plays a role too. I was willing to take a job that was somewhat beneath what my education would suggest I should take just to gain experience. That has paid off. I work at top telecommunications company making $80K+ annually. I might not make as much as the folks from Stanford but my school gave me a real world education that allowed me to leverage my experience in telecom. It emphasized learning which eventually led to the money.


July 17, 2010 12:36 PM

I am a computer scientist with +20 years toiling in corporate america as a computer consultant... I am seeking to transition from systems analsyt/business analyst type work and into management...

I am counting on the MBA from East Carolina University (I started in the Spring 2010 semester), along with my current training this summer - project management professional certification - to afford me the opportunity to make this transition...

Additionally, I am not afraid of taking a pay cut to get to were I need to go, as my life is comfortable and I have very little debt except for a small mortgage payment...

I am interested in and have been working in the Health Care arena for the past 5 years and may transition to Health Care Administration and/or Supply Chain Management and leave computers behind... But I am attending ECU on a part-time basis so, I have plenty of time to decide and take the appropriate internship and decide on my career path for the future...

I have been making over $100k since 1999, but for me its more about the job role/function and not the compensation going forward... I have the security of a family apparel business so that I am not counting entirely upon my job for income...

If I stick with computers I am certain that my income will remain high due to my experience, but if I transition away I may have to deal with a pay cut...

I will take my PMP certification in December and next summer I will begin work on Six Sigma certification to enhance my prospects when I get my MBA in 2013... I have a long road, but its willed with challenges, growth and future rewards - IMHO...

One last thought, "as a man thinketh he is".

Jeremiah Stevens

September 15, 2010 12:14 AM

Hmm, that is some compelling information you've got going! Makes me scratch my head and wonder. Keep up the good writing!

joshua Thomas

September 25, 2010 8:03 PM

Whats up ! Love your blog thanks for sharing it with us

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