MBA Salary Expectations: Data from the QS 2013 Applicant Survey |

MBA Salary Expectations: Data from the QS 2013 Applicant Survey

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By Louise O'Conor

Updated Updated

MBA applicants in 2013 have more realistic post-MBA salary expectations, according to the QS Applicant Survey. The QS Intelligence Unit surveyed 4,100 MBA applicants and found that a still unstable post-recession job market has led candidates to lower their target salaries.

Here are some headline findings:

Average Current Salaries Have Dropped in the Past Year

The average salary of MBA applicants has dropped from US$44,333 in 2012 to US$40,000 in 2013. This salary drop reflects the current state of economic uncertainty throughout the world.

The only region that saw an increase in average salary was the US & Canada.  Average salaries here increased from US$61,000 in 2012 to US$63,000 in 2013.

The salary drop applies to MBA applicants of both genders. Male applicants, however, experienced a greater salary decrease, with the average falling by US$5,000 to US$40,000. The smaller drop experienced by female candidates (US$41,000 to US$38,000) means the gap between the two now stands at only US$2,000.

In response to a lower average salary, a greater proportion of MBA applicants (61.1% as compared to 45% in 2008) expect that they will need to rely on scholarships in order to fund their degree.

Applicants Have More Realistic MBA Salary Expectations

This year’s average target is US$113,000, which is significantly lower than last year’s figure of US$126,500. While applicants have lowered their salary expectations, this average target salary (an increase of 282.5% on average current salary) reflects the fact that applicants still expect a return on investment from their MBA degree.

Post-MBA Salary Expectations by Region

The most dramatic decrease in expected earnings comes from applicants in Africa & the Middle East who expect to earn US$94,000 – down US$26,000 from last year’s target salary of US$124,000.

The region with the most optimistic MBA applicants is Eastern Europe, where respondents expect to increase their salary by 365%. Latin America is home to the most conservative candidates, who expect that an MBA will increase their salary by 212%.

Despite a small increase in salary, applicants in the US & Canada expect a lower post-MBA salary compared to last year. The expected salary dropped from US$153,000 to US$145,000.

Notably, one region has seen an increase in target salary. Western European applicants now expect to earn US$128,000, up from US$125,000 in 2012.

Post-MBA Salary Expectations by Gender and Years of Experience

MBA applicants of both genders have more conservative post-MBA salary expectations compared to last year. Female MBA applicants surveyed this year expected to earn US$107,000, down US$10,000 from 2012, while male applicants’ expectations were down by US$15,000, to US$117,000.

As in 2012, males aged 25-29 still expect their MBAs to have the greatest impact on their salaries (rising from US$35,000 to US$109,000), though the 311% increase is more conservative than last year’s 328%. Females aged 35-39 were the most conservative, expecting an increase of 248% to US$122,000 from US$49,000.

Traditionally, older applicants with higher current salaries tend to expect a smaller premium than younger ones. However, this year there is one exception to this: males aged 35-39 expect an increase of 274%, greater than the 263% premium targeted by 30-34 year old males. The former is also the only demographic which expects a greater proportional increase than last year.

This article was originally published in . It was last updated in

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