What MBA Grads Earn Five Years Out, Even During the Recession

Last Updated Aug 8, 2011 8:58 AM EDT

Which school's MBAs are earning the largest salaries five years after graduation? According to recent data from Forbes magazine, it's clearly Harvard Business School's graduates who last year reported a median salary of $230,000. Wharton grads are not far behind, with a median salary of $225,000, followed by Stanford and Chicago Booth, both at $205,000.

What impact did the Great Recession have on the salaries of MBAs? It's a mixed bag, based on the data gathered by Forbes from graduates who responded to its survey. Some 14 of the top 25 schools in median salary were up over their numbers two years ago, while 11 were down.

The biggest gainers include some surprises: Georgia Tech MBAs saw their median salaries jump by $27,000 over those surveyed two years earlier, the largest increase of any school in the top 25. Wharton was next with an increase of $25,000, followed by Texas at Austin and Virginia's Darden School, which both went up by $19,000, and Northwestern's Kellogg School, with an increase of $18,000.

The biggest losers
According to the Forbes data, Stanford MBAs saw their median salaries five years after graduation decline by $15,000, more than any other top 25 business school. The news also was bad for Rice University's Jones School MBAs (down $14,000), University of Southern California's Marshall School MBAs (down $11,000), and New York University's Stern School along with Yale's School of Management MBAs (both down $10,000 in the past two years).

Those who believe the MBA degree has less value today than previously will find no evidence to support that conclusion in this data from Forbes. The graduates of every single school on the top 25 list reported higher median pay last year than six years earlier. In many cases, the increases are significant, especially if you factor in the likelihood that many companies held back raises and promotions during the recession.

Harvard MBAs zoomed to $230,000 from $180,000 six years ago; Wharton MBAs saw their median salaries five years out jump to $225,000 from $177,000. Duke MBA pay went to $162,000 from just $121,000 six years ago.

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image courtesy of flickr user, jollyUK


School & Rank 2010 Salary(Five Years Out) 2008 Salary(Five Years Out) 2006 Salary(Five Years Out) 2004 Salary(Five Years Out)
1. Harvard Business School $230,000 $215,000 $200,000 $180,000
2. Pennsylvania (Wharton) $225,000 $200,000 $196,000 $177,000
3. Stanford $205,000 $225,000 $200,000 $160,000
4. Chicago (Booth) $205,000 $210,000 $199,000 $164,000
5. Dartmouth (Tuck) $200,000 $205,000 $180,000 $165,000
6. MIT (Sloan) $200,000 $190,000 $159,000 $145,000
7. Columbia $198,000 $182,000 $188,000 $160,000
8. Northwestern (Kellogg) $183,000 $165,000 $170,000 $143,000
9. Cornell (Johnson) $180,000 $168,000 $145,000 $136,000
10. Virginia (Darden) $178,000 $159,000 $149,000 $139,000
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    John Byrne is the editor-in-chief of PoetsandQuants.com and PoetsandQuantsforExecs.com. A former editor-in-chief of BusinessWeek.com and Fast Company magazine, Byrne also is the author or co-author of eight books on business, including two national bestsellers. Follow him on Twitter.