MBA: More Bucks for Applicants

MBA-holders being offered base salary of $75,000; college graduates only getting $41,000. Majority of job-seekers with MBA get signing bonuses.
Stephen TaubApril 29, 2002

So, you shelled out some serious cash to get that MBA. Was it a good investment?

Apparently, the answer is yes — according to a new survey.

Despite the current lousy economy, MBA-holders are still getting bigger paychecks than others in the work force, according to the 2002 Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) Corporate Recruiters Survey.

Recruiters report they are offering an average base salary of $75,000 to individuals with MBAs. By comparison, recruiters say they’re offering about $50,000 for holders of other post-graduate degrees, and $41,000 for those with undergraduate degrees. In addition, 69 percent indicate they will offer signing bonuses to MBAs.

This said, the job market is now tipping in favor of the employer. Indeed, 68 percent of the respondents indicated the weak economy has created a “buyer’s market” for their companies.

Even so, recruiters still estimate that 30 percent of their 2002 hires will be MBAs, increasing to 35 percent in 2003.

Which fields do MBA graduates head for? The most popular one is finance: 52 percent of the recruiters say graduates are seeking MBAs for finance careers. Marketing is a distant second (31 percent), followed by IT/MIS (25 percent) and consulting (24 percent).

And what are the most important criteria recruiters consider when hiring somebody with an MBA? Surprisingly, it’s not the school that the candidate attended.

Internship and related work experience were deemed the most important criteria, selected by 70 percent of the respondents. Other key criteria included the candidate’s history of increased job responsibility (66 percent); industry-related internship or work experience (61 percent) and MBA concentration of study (61 percent).

The reputation of the MBA school was only selected by 59 percent of the respondents, followed by history of leading teams (55 percent).

Altogether, 550 recruitment professionals, representing 423 companies, participated in the GMAC survey.

Other findings in the survey:

  • Most recruiters (65 percent) in the health care and pharmaceutical industries say they have not altered their hiring plans. The economy’s impact was felt most by recruiters for the consulting industry (86 percent), manufacturing (79 percent), energy and utilities (71 percent) and technology (69 percent).
  • Three quarters of recruiters said they did not rescind offers, lay off new MBA hires, delay job starts or move MBA hires into different departments in 2001.
  • Just four percent of recruiters rescinded offers this year.
  • The number of recruiters for US companies making job offers to MBAs three months or more prior to graduation dropped 10 percent in 2002. The number offering jobs within weeks of graduation rose slightly.
  • A majority of respondents (76 percent) said the most important criteria in selecting schools at which to recruit are the school’s reputation and their existing relationships at the school.
  • Other school recruitment factors included the retention history of previous hires (50 percent) and a sufficiently large candidate pool (50 percent).

The Graduate Management Admission Council is a not-for-profit education organization of graduate business schools worldwide. The organization sponsors the Graduate Management Admission Test (GMAT) used as part of the admissions process by graduate management programs around the world.