Stanford MBA salaries have jumped 30% in the past decade. Here’s how much grads make

BY Sydney LakeJuly 21, 2021, 2:00 AM
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Of the 69 business schools appearing on Fortune’s list of those offering the best MBA programs, alumni of Stanford University’s Graduate School of Business earned the highest base salaries straight out of the gate—an average of $156,000, plus an additional $35,000 performance bonus and $26,500 bonus. That’s an average total salary of more than $217,000. What’s more, 85% of 2020 Stanford grads who were seeking a job accepted one within three months of completing their MBA degree. 

Salaries for Stanford MBA alums have jumped by 30% during the past decade, as more grads have entered the tech industry and continued securing spots at top consulting and finance companies. This is the sixth consecutive year that Stanford reported a record base salary for its MBA grads.

In 2020, 60% of Stanford grads who reported employment accepted a job on the West Coast. The average West Coast base salary for Stanford grads was $155,000, according to Stanford’s MBA employment report.

Tech jobs pay up…

Similar to employment figures from other top-tier MBA programs, 15% of Stanford MBA alumni went on to jobs in consulting, but more than one-third earned positions in the finance industry, and 28% found jobs in tech. They earned average base salaries of $175,000 and $140,000, respectively. 

Tech companies are actively recruiting MBA grads for a number of reasons. To fill techno-functional roles in product management and solutions architecture, companies need candidates with the technical chops plus business acumen to get the job done—and they’re willing to pay up.

“What you see in technology these days, and really have been seeing in technology over the last decade, is this blending or graying of the boundary between business and technology,” says Curtis Britt, the director for Korn Ferry’s IT professional search business. “That combination of education is incredibly valuable for tech-forward organizations.”

Tech companies looking for employees with a technical or computational background will often factor a candidate’s MBA into the number of years of work experience he or she has, Britt says. If recruiters see that a candidate has earned an MBA, that degree might equate to about three years of work experience, and will probably pay more accordingly. And that’s where a salary bump comes into play for new hires with an MBA.

There’s a greater salary disparity between early career MBA grads entering the marketplace and those who just earned a bachelor’s degree, Britt adds.

…and so do finance firms

A primary reason to pursue an MBA is to make a career change, and a move from consulting to investment banking or other finance roles is quite common. 

Similar to how tech companies treat the MBA degree as equivalent to years of work experience, an MBA grad with a few years of experience in consulting could immediately be hired for a higher-level finance position. The average finance salary for a candidate coming directly from a bachelor’s degree program is $71,186, according to PayScale. The average salary for these positions jumps to more than $100,000 with an MBA. 

“[MBA] grads are onboarded at the associate level post-MBA, which does incur a higher base salary than an undergraduate hire,” adds Mike Brothers, a managing consultant with Korn Ferry. “However it’s important to note that the undergraduate would have started in a more junior position as analyst.”