Wharton 2022 grads land $175K base salaries—the highest in the school’s history

BY Sydney LakeNovember 22, 2022, 3:59 PM
The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, as seen in September 2022. (Photographer: Hannah Beier—Bloomberg/Getty Images)

Yet another premier business school saw its MBA grads nab roles with record-breaking base salaries this year. Last week, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business, which Fortune ranks as having the No. 4 full-time MBA program in the U.S., announced median base salaries of $175,000 for its 2022 grads; the school does not report average bonuses. 

The nearly 13% increase in median base salaries was a product of higher pay in the school’s top-pursued industries among graduates: consulting, investment banking, and technology, Sam Jones, Wharton’s director of MBA Career Management, tells Fortune. 

“Certainly when we’re looking at the top industries of interest that Wharton students come into Wharton with and pursue, these were industries that were really competing for talent,” he says. “The market was compensating talent in these industries at a higher level than they did last year.”

Wharton also had a banner year in terms of the number of students who received a job offer after graduation or pursued entrepreneurship. Of the 633 students seeking employment post-grad, almost 99% received a job offer after graduation. This year, Wharton also saw nearly 60 of its 852 grads start their own companies, according to the school’s 2022 MBA careers report. That’s double the amount of students who pursued entrepreneurship in 2021. 

Wharton officials hypothesize that two of the main drivers for students to start their own companies has been the school’s venture lab in its new building, Tangen Hall. The messaging for this new building started while the class of 2022 was applying to Wharton, Jones explains. The space is solely dedicated to innovation and entrepreneurship. Jones also says he suspects that COVID had something to do with the sudden spike in MBAs pursuing entrepreneurship after Wharton. 

“There were just people sitting at home looking at their four walls, spending a lot of time reflecting on and thinking about what they wanted to do with their lives,” he says. “It may have invigorated more of an interest in starting one’s own business. As we look at trends, that’s one that we’re watching.”

Top industries pursued by Wharton grads

Financial services still remains the top field for Wharton MBA grads with nearly 40% of the class of 2022 landing a job in the industry. The most popular paths in financial services for Wharton students were investment banking and private equity, which both report median base salaries of $175,000. 

Consulting is the second-most popular career path for Wharton MBA grads, with roughly 25% of the class going into the field. Salaries for jobs at top consulting firms are on the rise, which is reflected in Wharton’s MBA report; the median base salary this year was $175,000. While Wharton doesn’t report bonuses, data from Management Consulted shows that MBAs who go into consulting can make up to $240,000 in total compensation

This year, the top three consulting firms—McKinsey & Co., Bain & Co., and Boston Consulting Group—also announced that starting salaries will continue to go up. In 2022, starting base salaries for new MBA grads at the MBB firms was $175,000. In 2023, however, Bain and McKinsey will offer $192,000 base salaries and BCG will offer $190,000.

“The fiercest competition in the labor market is for ‘top talent,’ and consulting firms are competing for this top talent not just between themselves, but also more broadly versus Silicon Valley, Wall Street, and traditional corporate America,” Namaan Mian, chief operating officer of Management Consulted, previously told Fortune. 

Technology salaries for Wharton MBA grads

Technology is another growing sector for Wharton MBA grads. This year, about 17% of the graduating class took a job at a tech company and reported median base salaries of $153,500. The school has seen interest grow in the tech sector especially during the past 10 years, Jones says. 

“A lot of these tech brands just resonate with students because they use them every day. That’s something that’s attractive,” he says. “The industry tends to be innovative. It tends to be fast moving. It tends to be nimble. That’s attractive to students, as well.”

Students take on a variety of roles at tech companies, but some of the more popular roles include product and project management, Jones says. Business development, corporate strategy, partnerships, and sales roles are also pursued by Wharton MBA grads. 

Despite a jump in tech layoffs in recent months, Wharton officials anticipate the sector will continue to be a boon for grads. 

“Certainly we’re seeing a little bit of a correction right now in the tech industry,” Jones says. “But we’re cautiously optimistic that strong hiring will continue this year and into the future years.”

Check out all of Fortune’rankings of degree programs, and learn more about specific career paths.