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Paychecks Trimmed in 2011

Relatively few MBAs will go on to become chief executives, but for those who do, the financial rewards can be huge. Those rewards got considerably less gargantuan this year, however. The top 10 CEOs of billion-dollar-plus companies who have MBAs collectively earned more than $278 million in the most recent fiscal year, down about 15 percent from last year's top 10.

The top 20 CEO MBAs include graduates from top-tier programs—half hail from Harvard, Stanford, and Columbia—but a fair number got their degrees at less prestigious institutions, including Indiana University and Mississippi State.

While total compensation declined, it's worth noting that a few of the highest-paid CEOs had take-home pay (which includes the value of newly vested stock and exercised stock options) that was higher—in some cases, much higher—than their total compensation. Cisco's John Chambers and JPMorgan Chase's James Dimon took home $37.9 million and $41 million, respectively, while McKesson's John Hammergren raked in $131.2 million, more than anyone on the list.

Methodology: The list was compiled by Equilar, an executive compensation research firm, based on an analysis of companies reporting CEO compensation as of July 31. It was limited to companies with revenue greater than $1 billion in their most recent fiscal year. Both total compensation and take-home pay include salary, cash bonus, and other compensation, such as perks. Total compensation also includes the grant-date fair value of options and the grant-date present value of stock awarded in the most recent fiscal year. Take-home pay excludes those amounts but includes the value realized by the vesting of previously awarded stock or from the exercise of previously awarded options.

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