The Companies That Pay MBAs the Most

How to get the most (money) out of business school.

hotographer: Daniel Acker/Bloomberg

Business school is a profitable investment for almost anyone, but some MBAs are getting more dollar value out of their degrees than others. MBAs who worked in financial services several years out of school earned more than their peers in every other industry, and the best paychecks overall were doled out by investment banking firm Morgan Stanley, a Bloomberg survey of thousands of B-School alumni showed.  

As part of our annual ranking of business schools, Bloomberg surveyed 12,773 professionals six to eight years after they graduated from business school. The MBAs who work at Morgan Stanley took home the largest compensation packages, followed closely by alums at Goldman Sachs. 

We asked alumni who graduated from 2007 through 2009 about their current employer, base salary, and bonus. To figure out who pays the most, we focused on companies where we polled at least 20 MBAs. Graduates working in finance–which includes people in accounting and banking–took home a median $210,000. Real estate and energy were the next most lucrative industries. Perhaps the unlikeliest leader of the pack was agriculture, where MBAs made a median of $180,000—as much as they earned in consulting. (About 46 percent of the alumni we surveyed went into finance, tech, or consulting, while 8.5 percent worked in energy, real estate, or agriculture.) 

The companies that paid MBAs the most hailed mainly from the professions that have long been catnip for MBAs. Five of the 10 companies that paid MBAs the most were financial businesses and three were consulting firms. The only Silicon Valley representatives that made their way into the top 10 were Google and Apple. Even at those tech giants, MBAs earned 36 percent less than their peers at Morgan Stanley, mainly because they hauled in smaller bonuses.

Goldman handed out the largest bonuses overall, awarding the MBAs we polled a median $175,000 in discretionary pay on top of their $200,000 salary. Apple’s median bonus of $111,500 was more than what MBAs took home at some giants in the world of finance, including Credit Suisse and Barclays. 

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