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Highest MBA Salary Levels by School Highlighted in Report

Which US business schools produce the highest-paid MBA alumni?

In a week in which we learned that MBA applicants in the US are targeting a post-MBA salary of US$149,000, a new report from PayScale shows that 17 business schools will get their MBA alumni there – but not until graduates reach the midcareer stage.

This list includes all but one of QS’s top 10 business schools in the US for 2014/15. Michigan Ross is the odd one out here, but its midcareer figure, in fairness, is only US$3,000 below applicants’ target MBA salary in the US. PayScale’s top 10, ordered by alumni’s median midcareer earnings is shown in the table below. 

Top-earning MBA alumni of US schools

Top-earning MBA alumni of US schools

Source: PayScale

PayScale’s analysis doesn’t look at the cost of undertaking an MBA and therefore isn’t supposed to be an accurate indicator of ROI. Instead, its report is designed to show prospective students the kind of MBA salary levels they can expect to look forward to, on graduation.

The full 2015-16 College Salary Report is not limited to MBA degrees or even business education for that matter, but covers a full range of disciplines at bachelor’s, master’s and PhD level. In this sense it resembles Georgetown University’s investigation into the earning power of different majors, or choices of specialization, in the US.

The methodology is a little different here, however, with PayScale measuring up salary data supplied by alumni of around 1500 institutions in the US. Within this number are the MBA alumni of 233 business schools.

Two stages in these alumni’s careers are then represented with a median MBA salary figure for each school – early career (where respondents have a maximum of five years of work experience) and midcareer (from a pool of MBA alumni who possess 10 or more years’ experience in which the median respondent is defined as being 44 years old and holding 15 years’ experience).

PayScale analysis extends to MBA specializations

The report also allows us to look into the earning potential of various MBA specializations (or concentrations) – these span all the institutions in PayScale’s dataset, so none of the median midcareer salaries hit the sought-after US$149,000 MBA salary in this instance. However, it’s interesting to note which MBA specializations tend to produce the highest earners.

At the top is strategy, with finance & real estate and economics both making the top five. At the other end of the spectrum, meanwhile, is healthcare management, ahead of human resources management (HRM) at the very bottom of this list. HRM’s figure of US$78,400 is almost US$70,000 short of strategy’s US$148,000, although much of this will depend on where MBA alumni have studied and how they have chosen to define their MBA specializations.

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Written by Tim Dhoul

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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