What’s an MBA Really Worth?

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How much do MBAs really earn?

This is the question tackled in a recent Poets & Quants article in which John Byrne presents PayScale data provided exclusively for P&Q. In the analysis, PayScale calculates the estimated median pay and bonuses (not including stock-based compensation, retirement benefits, or non-cash benefits like healthcare) of graduates from the top 50 U.S. MBA programs from 2004 to 2014. Here are some of the highlights from the article:

Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton earn the most over a 20-year period (at $3,233,000, $3,011,000 and $2,989,000 respectively), with average income at the former nearly doubling the average income of graduates from Texas A&M’s Mays Business School (at $1,781,820.)

• Some schools “punched above their weight class” like Boston University, whose graduates earned an average of $2,329,000, making the school rank in 19th place on this list, while ranked overall (in the regular MBA full-time rankings) by P&Q in 40th.

• Another high roller from lower down on the list is UC-Irvine Merage, where MBAs earn $2,319,932 over 20 years, putting them in 21st place, though generally ranked in 47th.

• More food for thought: At HBS, the average age of graduation is 29 years old. Our 20-year payout here brings these MBAs up to 49 years old, giving them another 16 years until retirement at 65. Based on their 20-year earnings, they may earn another $3.2 million, which combined with their 20-year earnings, brings their total up to $6.5 million. (Remember, this is a conservative estimate as it doesn’t include stock and non-cash compensation.)

• Compare the above HBS figures to the $2.5 million estimated lifetime earnings (age 24 to 64) of people with a master’s degree (non-MBA). (Data from the U.S. Census Bureau.) Someone with an MBA from Harvard will earn nearly three times as much as someone with a master’s degree. And someone with an MBA from Texas A&M will still earn about $1 million more than the average MA/MS holder.

• More comparisons (based on U.S. Census Bureau data): The average high school graduate can expect to earn $1.2 million in a lifetime, compared to the $2.1 million of someone with a bachelor’s degree. PhDs earn $3.4 million on average during their working lifetime. Doctors and lawyers can expect lifetime earnings of about $4.4 million – still less than the lifetime earnings of MBAs from at least 28 business schools.

• According to PayScale data, graduates from BA programs earn a median $1,301,000 20 years post-graduation. All MBAs, on average, earned $1,771,000, with those in the top 50 earning a median $2,266,000. An MBA in general will earn you about half a million more than a BA; an MBA from a top 50 school will get you yet another half a million more.

Looking for admissions advice?
Source: PayScale for Poets&Quants

For MBA admissions tips, check out our MBA Admissions 101 Pages!
Source: Payscale Inc. for 20-year estimate, business schools reporting to U.S. News for 2013 starting pay and bonus.

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Related Resources:

Best MBA Programs: A Guide to Selecting the Right One
• B-Schools with the Highest ROIs
• Which Graduate Schools Should You Apply To?

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2016 Columbia Business School Class Profile

Want to learn the secret to getting into Columbia Business School?Let’s take a look at who makes up Columbia’s class of 2016 (from the CBS website)…

 • Applications received: 5799

 • Students accepted: 1056

 • Students enrolled: 743 (Aug. entry class size – 544; Jan. entry class size – 199)

 • Women: 36%

 • U.S. minorities: 32%

 • International students: 41%

 • Average GMAT score: 716

 • Middle 80% GMAT score: 680-780

 • Average undergraduate GPA: 3.5

 • Middle 80% undergraduate GPA: 3.1-3.8

 • Average work experience: 5 years

 • Middle 80% work experience: 3-7 years

 • Average age: 28

 • Middle 80% age range: 25-30

Breakdown of Undergraduate Majors:

Previous Industries:

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Related Resources:

• Columbia Business School 2015 MBA Essay Tips & Deadlines
• What Does “At The Very Center of Business” Mean for CBS Applicants?
Columbia Business School Zone

2014 Economist MBA Rankings

2014 Economist Full-Time Global MBA Rankings:Download your free copy of MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know

1. Chicago Booth (U.S.)

2. Dartmouth Tuck (U.S.)

3. UVA Darden (U.S.)

4. HEC Paris (France)

5. IESE Business School (Spain)

6. Harvard Business School (U.S.)

7. UC Berkeley Haas (U.S.)

8. NYU Stern (U.S.)

9. Stanford GSB (U.S.)

10. Columbia Business School (U.S.)

11. UPenn Wharton (U.S.)

12. MIT Sloan (U.S.)

13. UCLA Anderson (U.S.)

14. Northwestern Kellogg (U.S.)

15. London Business School (U.K.)

16. University of Queensland Business School (Australia)

17. Emory Goizueta (U.S.)

18. INSEAD (France)

19. Yale SOM (U.S.)

20. Michigan Ross (U.S.)

Top 10 B-Schools with the Highest GMAT Scores:


Top 10 MBA Programs for “Potential to Network”:

1. HEC Paris (France)

2. Vlerick Leuven Gent Management School (Belgium)

3. Thunderbird School for Global Management (U.S.)

4. NYU Stern (U.S.)

5. UC Berkeley Haas (U.S.)

6. Notre Dame Mendoza (U.S.)

7. Warwick Business School (U.K.)

8. USC Marshall (U.S.)

9. Melbourne Business School (Australia)

10. UVA Darden (U.S.)

A Poets & Quants article on the rankings states that at least 17 business schools declined to participate in this year’s rankings, many claiming that The Economist’s methodology is faulty. Some of these schools include Babson Olin, Toronto Rotman, Sauder School (British Columbia), Minnesota Carlson, McGill Desautels, Purdue Krannert, and, University of Manchester (U.K.), Imperial College Business School (U.K.), University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.

Regarding methodology, 80% of the data used for the rankings is derived from surveys provided by the schools themselves. The remaining 20% of information comes from current students and recent grads.

John Byrne notes that since The Economist rankings launched in 2002, Harvard, Stanford, and Wharton have never topped the charts. This year, the schools rank at 6th, 9th, and 11th place, respectively. In 2005, Harvard and Wharton weren’t included in the rankings as they declined to contribute data. (That year, those two programs also declined to participate with the Businessweek rankings.)

Matt Symonds, who wrote a critique of the rankings, “Leave no MBA ranking unquestioned,” provides these additional points:

• Booth took the #1 spot for the third year in a row, and the fifth time in the last eight years.

• There are only six European schools in the top 25; in 2008, there were 11. This year, Cambridge Judge and Oxford Saïd both dropped 15 places, to 52nd and 69th place respectively.

• The breakdown of the criteria used to rank the schools goes as follows: personal development/education experience (35%), open new career opportunities (35%), increase salary (20%), and potential to network (10%).

• This year, more than 20 schools rose or fell by double-digits (and thus the rankings have been criticized for their volatility).

• Big droppers include University of Bath School of Management which fell 23 spots from its previous 20th place; York Schulich fell to 41st place from 22nd last year.

• Big jumpers include Kellogg and Yale which both jumped 9 places up to 14th and 19th place respectively; Rochester Simon and Temple Fox both jumped 20 places to 58th and 57th place respectively.

Are You Misusing the B-School Rankings?

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Related Resources:

• MBA Rankings: Why Should I Care?
MBA Rankings: What You Need to Know
• Top 10 B-Schools with the Most Satisfied Graduates

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