Is the sacrifice worth the salary bump? Here’s the lowdown on your prospects for an increase, now and in the future.
Can you make six figures with an MBA? The numbers don’t lie.
For professionals with an MBA degree, six-figure salaries are well within reach. The latest Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC)1 survey anticipates a median MBA starting salary in the USA of $125k per year.
Not only are there a wealth of well-paying jobs for those with an MBA degree, a 2021 Forte Foundation study3 showed that the average salary for MBA graduates over time grew between 9 and 35%.
The average annual MBA salary after five years averaged approximately $142k for women and $152 for men, while the average MBA salary after 10 years ranged from $179k to $242k for women and men, respectively.
Some of the most sought-after six-figure careers2 include:
Financial Manager – $131,710
Medical & Health Services Manager – $101,340
Senior Product Manager – $130,225
Director of Finance – $126,342
IT Director – $119,558
Pharmaceutical Medical Director – $147,494
Chief Technology Officer (CTO) – $132, 056
Chief Medical Officer (CMO) – $151,040
“The MBA opens doors to many industries and many fields. I don’t think I could transition from education to IT without having an MBA on my resume.”
Fly high or fall hard: Are MBA starting salaries soaring?
The evidence that MBA salaries are on the rise is undeniable. Coursera’s Salary Guide4 reports that MBA graduates earn up to $50k more than those with just a bachelor’s degree.
Even more impressive: Poets & Quants noted a recent survey5 of thousands of MBA grads showed a remarkable salary bump of $85,000. While these numbers will be impacted by where you work, where you live, and which school you attended, the fact is an MBA is extremely likely to boost your bottom line.
Beyond an increase in annual pay, MBA graduates looking to get promoted also see a significant advantage. In their 2022 survey, GMAC6 reported that 56% of MBA grads who wanted to receive a promotion earned one. (Fun fact: over 66% of Iowa MBA graduates were promoted during or after their program.)
"What I've seen is that MBA graduates typically earn more than their non-MBA counterparts, and they tend to do so earlier in their careers."
What is the average return on an MBA?
For full-time MBA programs, the two programs with the highest MBA salary in the U.S. are Harvard University ($198,180) and Stanford University ($198,032). A Harvard MBA clocks in at $146,800 (Harvard), while Stanford soars to $153,900, according to U.S. News & World Report.7 And tuition alone doesn't cover the full cost of an Ivy League degree: These figures don't include living expenses or fees.
Part-time programs are growing in popularity around the world, and are likely a better fit for working parents and professionals who need to remain in their job while returning to school.
To visualize the return on your investment, we took a look at the tuition versus average MBA starting salary by school for the top 10 part-time programs, as ranked by U.S. News & World Report:8
|US News Ranking||Institution||Total Tuition||Average Salary|
|1||University of California, Berkeley (Haas)||$151,200.00||$152,831.00|
|2||University of Chicago (Booth)||$161,920.00||$165,887.00|
|3||Northwestern University (Kellogg)||$161,376.00||$158,938.00|
|4||New York University (Stern)||$164,204.00||$161,475.00|
|5||University of California – Los Angeles (Anderson)||$139,200.00||$146,727.00|
|6||University of Texas – Austin (McCombs)||$119,925.00||$144,564.00|
|7||University of Michigan – Ann Arbor (Ross)||$120,000.00||$153,465.00|
|8||University of Southern California (Marshall)||$138,411.00||$150,314.00|
|9 (Tie)||Carnegie Mellon University (Tepper)||$141,812.00||$148,067.00|
|9 (Tie)||Georgetown University (McDonough)||$159,240.00||$138,552.00|
|11 (Tie)||Georgie Institute of Technology (Scheller)||$61,128.00||$136,819.00|
|11 (Tie)||The University of Texas at Dallas (Jindal)||$44,360.00||$123,163.00|
|11 (Tie)||University of Washington (Foster)||$95,013.00||$147,340.00|
|14||University of Minnesota – Twin Cities (Carlson)||$82,212.00||$121,882.00|
|15 (Tie)||Indiana University (Kelley)||$49,464.00||$136,352.00|
|15 (Tie)||Ohio State University (Fisher)||$75,552.00||$106,779.00|
|15 (Tie)||Rice University (Jones)||$113,400.00||$142,212.00|
|18||University of South Carolina||$38,800.00||$96,434.00|
|19||Emory University (Goizueta)||$83,484.00||$149,759.00|
|20||Washington University – St. Louis (Olin)||$100,440.00||$117,687.00|
The University of Iowa’s Iowa MBA, currently ranked #28 in the nation, has a total tuition of $33,750 and an average salary of $112,820.
As you debate whether going for an MBA is the right move for you, salary benefits should be a key consideration. But don’t forget to also take into account how you’ll grow your network, build a vast understanding of business as a whole, and dive deep into the topics that most interest you.
There’s more than just a salary benefit to earning you’re MBA—but for those driven by the bottom line, an MBA could be just what you’re looking for.
- Andrew Walker, et al. “Corporate Recruiters Survey – 2023 Summary Report.” Graduate Management Admissions Council, July 2023.
- Salary sources:
- Ilana Kowarski and Sarah Wood. “6 Hot Jobs for MBA Graduates.” U.S. News & World Report, April 25, 2023
- Martin Mascali. “13 of the Highest Paying Jobs for MBA Graduates to Pursue.” Monster.com.
- “Job Salaries By Industry .” Payscale.com.
- "Chief Executive Officer Salary in the United States.”Salary.com.
- Dr. Michelle Wieser. “Experiences and Outcomes of the MBA by Gender and Race.” Forte Foundation Study, September 2021.
- "MBA Degree Salary: 2023 Guide.” Coursera, June 15, 2023.
- Byrne, John A. “The MBA Bump: MBA Grads Now Get an $85k Bump Over Pre-MBA Pay.” Poets & Quants, March 2023.
- “Corporate Recruiters Survey – 2022 Summary Report.” Graduate Management Admissions Council, May 2022.
- Ilana Kowarski and Sarah Wood. “Find MBAs That Lead to Employment, High Salaries.” U.S. News & World Report, April 25, 2023.
- “Best Part-Time MBA Programs”. U.S. News & World Report, 2023.