Top US business schools with the highest MBA graduate salaries

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Acquiring an MBA can be expensive, however, the returns are always rewarding.

By U2B Staff 

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MBA programmes at US business schools can come with eye-watering fees. Depending on the programme enrolled, it can take you anywhere between one to two years to complete a full-time course. Tuition fees alone can range from 50,000 US dollars to US$100,000 and up, excluding room and board. 

Despite the initial upfront costs, reports suggest that an MBA is worth the investment. MBA programmes equip learners with leadership skills, increases their prospects of earning higher salaries, and can help them climb the corporate ladder, among other benefits.

The long-term ROI of an MBA programme, however, can be a little tricky to measure as many factors can come into play and affect one’s earning potential, such as the industry one work’s in and the candidate itself. 

According to admissions experts, via the U.S. News and World Report, job applicants with an MBA on their resume tend to stand out to employers; students don’t necessarily need to attend prestigious business schools to reap significant professional benefits.


The National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) projects that the average starting salary for the Class of 2021 MBA graduates will be US$87,966. This figure is a whopping 11.3% higher than the average starting salary among 2020 grads. 

The increase is partly fueled by rising demand from the finance, insurance and real estate sectors, which tend to be lucrative industries for MBA alumni.

The figure is more than US$29,000 higher than salary projections for individuals who will receive a bachelor’s in business this year. With COVID-19 vaccines rolling out this year, pundits are confident that the economy will recover and that pay levels for MBA graduates could continue to rise.

This is echoed by the Graduate Management Admission Council’s corporate recruiters survey: “Looking into the hiring projections for 2021, there are prospects of a recovery in demand for MBA and business master’s candidates.”

US business schools with the highest average MBA salaries

Among the 132 ranked full-time MBA programmes that reported salary data to U.S. News in an annual survey, the overall average base salary plus bonus paid to 2020 graduates was US$101,034, said U.S. News.

At the 10 MBA programmes where grads received the highest compensation, which are all among the top 15 highest-ranked programmes in the 2022 U.S. News Best Business Schools rankings, the overall average base salary and signing bonus was US$172,265.


If you’re wondering which business schools will give you a better chance of finding a lucrative job upon graduation, here are a compilation of schools with the highest average salary and bonuses:

Business school  Location Average income
Stanford University California US$176,083
New York University, Stern School of Business New York US$175,148
Dartmouth College, Tuck School of Business New Hampshire US$173,882
Northwestern University, Kellogg School of Management  Illinois US$173,057
University of Chicago, Booth School of Business  Illinois US$172,683
Cornell University, SC Johnson College of Business New York US$172,254
Harvard University, Harvard Business School Massachusetts US$171,785
Columbia University, Columbia Business School New York US$171,436
University of Virginia, Darden School of Business Virginia US$169,190
Duke University, Fuqua School of Business North Carolina US$167,134
Source: U.S. News data

U.S. News data adds that MBA compensation varies not only on the basis of where a graduate earned his or her degree, but also on the chosen industry.

On average, they found that MBA graduates who enter the consulting industry command the highest base salaries, and those who work in government tend to be paid the lowest base salaries.

Recent MBA graduates who work in the consulting industry typically receive an average salary nearly US$72,000 higher than a counterpart in the government sector.