Harvard Business School: Class of 2015 Employment Report | TopMBA.com

Harvard Business School: Class of 2015 Employment Report

By Tim Dhoul

Updated June 4, 2019 Updated June 4, 2019

Entrepreneurship and the technology industry are on the rise at Harvard Business School (HBS) if its newly released class of 2015 employment report is anything to go by. However, the numbers taking MBA jobs overseas continue to fall, with 85% now taking positions within the US.

Entrepreneurship on rise at HBS

The startup trend is strong among HBS’s class of 2015. The number of graduates moving into the entrepreneurship arena either by starting their own company, or by joining an existing startup, has grown over the past year. Most notably, those who joined an existing startup (defined as being three years old or younger) almost doubled this year, rising from 5 to 9% of the job-seeking class total. These startups pay pretty well, too. The median base salary here came in at US$120,000, not too far off the class of 2015’s overall average of US$130,000.

There has been a notable increase in young companies in the tech space hiring HBS graduates. In 2014, almost half (47%) of graduates taking MBA jobs at existing startups were joining young financial services companies. That number is now 30%. The proportion of those joining existing startups in the technology industry, meanwhile, has grown from 21% to 37%.

The number of startup founders coming out of Harvard Business School is also on the rise, albeit with a more marginal rise of 1%, to 9% of the class total this time round. What stands out in this instance is that almost half of these entrepreneurs (46%) decided to launch their own company while in their second year of study at HBS. Indeed, the number of those who made this decision prior to their MBA is down from 27% in 2014 to 22% of this year’s startup founders. 

Technology industry climbs in appeal

Another highlight of the report is that the proportion of Harvard Business School graduates pursuing MBA jobs in the technology industry this year has hit 20% for the first time since the tech boom of 1999 and 2000. This is a rise of 3% on 2014’s equivalent figure, but it’s still not enough for it to challenge the numbers joining the finance and consulting industries from the school. Finance remains a comfortable favorite with graduates, even as it loses a couple of percentage points in accounting for 31% of the MBA jobs taken by the class of 2015. Consulting, meanwhile, is up 1% to 24% of this year’s total. 

Salary gains made by class of 2015

As we have seen, US$130,000 is the median base salary for the class as a whole this year, up from US$125,000 in 2014, and all three of the most popular industry destinations also post a rise on last year’s salary levels.  Finance salaries (median base levels) rose from US$130,000 to US$140,000, consulting from US$135,000 to US$140,000 and technology from US$120,000 to US$125,000.

Fewer MBA jobs taken outside of US

A further key talking point this year relates to job locations. Although the number of international students attending Harvard Business School’s MBA program has hovered around the 34% mark over the past three years, the number of graduates taking MBA jobs outside of the US continues to trail off.

Whereas 21% of the class of 2011 accepted positions overseas, that number is down to 15% in 2015, having fallen by a single percentage point for each of the past three years.

Last year’s drop was ascribed to fewer graduates taking MBA jobs in Europe. However, this year that number is up 1%, to 7% of the job-seeking total. Instead, this year’s fall emanates from Asia, where employers have now taken 3% of HBS’s class, down from a high of 8% in 2011 and from 5% last year.

It’s unlikely to be salary that’s doing this, as HBS’s international median base in salary this year stands at US$120,000 – just US$10,000 short of the overall median. A more likely explanation is that this is linked to the health of MBA job opportunities in the US right now. 

Within the US, employers in New York City continue to recruit more HBS MBAs than all international destinations combined – the city’s 23% total this year matches that of a year previous. Elsewhere, the number of those moving to California’s Bay Area is up from 14 to 17%, a rise that is precisely proportional to that of jobs taken in the technology industry this year. Chicago’s share, however, is down from 6 to 3%.

According to the school, the report relates to 915 members of its MBA class of 2015, of which 94% received a job offer and 91% accepted an offer within three months of receiving their diploma.

This article was originally published in November 2015 . It was last updated in June 2019

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Written by

Tim is a writer with a background in consumer journalism and charity communications. He trained as a journalist in the UK and holds degrees in history (BA) and Latin American studies (MA).


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