Top 20 Business Schools with the Highest Post-MBA Salary Increases

Top 20 Business Schools by post-mba salary increases

Financially savvy business school students seek the best ROI on their MBA investment. ROI for the MBA comes in the form of higher salaries and bonuses. Virtually every MBA graduate achieves a positive ROI on their investment. Salary percentage increase is a positive indicator of the value of an MBA for both student and employer.

According to a new study from the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), the MBA degree translates into a 90% increase in median salary.

What does that look like in real dollars? If a student starts business school at $70,000 per year salary, they’re likely to finish with a $130,000 offer. If a student is worried about the debt an MBA would accumulate, theoretically, the tuition debt can be paid off in three years.

The MBA vs. Specialized Master’s Degrees

Specialized master’s programs are becoming increasingly popular for younger applicants with little to no work experience. In two surveys conducted by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business (AACSB) (2008-2009, 2013-2014), worldwide enrollment growth for specialized master’s programs were up 42.6% while MBA programs in all formats were only up a mere 0.7% . In the United States, specialized master’s enrollment was up 49.5% for the five year period while enrollment in MBA programs decreased by 5.4%.

A 2015 survey by showed that students were interested in the following MBA options:

  • 79% full-time MBA
  • 32% part-time MBA
  • 19% online learning
  • 11% distance learning
  • 17% executive MBAs

Two main factors drive students to pursue the Master’s in place of the MBA:

  1. Demand for graduate-level education
  2. Post-graduation employment alternative

The choice for graduates is between instant results of the specialist’s Master or find a job and wait to attain an MBA. Since MBAs have more work experience, their salaries tend to be considerably higher. According to the 2015 GMAC Corporate Recruiters Survey Report, median starting salaries for MBA graduates in the U.S. is $100,000. The report also shows that specialized Master’s graduates earn a median $64,300 annually in the U.S. Either degree will result in salary increases but over the long-run, the MBA amounts to a much larger increase over a shorter period of time.

Over the past five years, MBA graduates, have much higher salaries, on average, than their specialized Master’s graduates’ counterparts. The following graphics show the differences between MBA graduate and specialized Master’s graduate salaries.

MBA and specialized master’s salaries, 2011-2015


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Average MBA and specialized master’s degrees salaries, 2011-2015


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For those deciding between the MBA and Master’s, the question can be simplified by deciding how much ROI one would like to attain.

In the U.S., post-MBA pay increases averaged $40,761. In Canada, post-MBA pay increases averaged $23,190.

The list below shows the top 20 business schools with the highest post-MBA salary increases.


with the Highest Post-MBA Salary Increases

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Source: QS North American Business School ROI Report