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Master's Degree in Business: Careers & Salaries

Standing Out Among Employers

Besides lower unemployment rates and higher wages, having a master's degree can attract prospective employers to your resume. This level of degree sets you apart from the hundreds of resumes that recruiters must sort through. It also shows that you are dedicated, concerned about your career, and hard working. Additionally, a master's degree can often offset a lack of professional experience on your resume. For example, many times employers will require 7-10 years of experience or a graduate-level degree in the profession. Although professional experience is still important, sometimes employers want fresh knowledge from graduates.

Career Opportunities and Job Security

A master's degree in business can significantly enhance your career opportunities, as well as aid with job security. For example, "since 1970, graduates with professional degrees have experienced unemployment rates that are 25% less than those with undergraduate degrees1." This data was taken from a 2005 Statistical Abstract in the United States.

Salaries in General

Besides low unemployment rates, individuals with a master's degree, according to 2010 U.S. Census data, "earned 6,700 USD per month and those with a bachelor's degree earned 5,400 USD per month2." In 2012, according to an annual survey conducted by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), a U.S.-based nonprofit organization, it was found that there is a "big payoff for higher level degrees, with average starting salaries flucuating by more than 20% between holding a master's degree or a bachelor's degree3. Overall, studies have found that there is potential for a higher salary if you have a master's degree.

Salaries for Professional Business Degrees

When looking specifically at graduates of business programs, salaries are also higher for holders of master's degrees. There is a lot of salary data specifically related to MBA graduates in particular. However, the average annual salary for an MBA graduate has a very wide range. For instance, according to data compiled by Businessweek in 2012, a Harvard MBA graduate has an average salary between 77,591 USD and 138,164 USD depending on the industry. Jobs in the financial sector are earning more than jobs in the nonprofit sector4. Another differentiating point is based on the school that is attended. Business schools that are highly reputable, such as Harvard, Yale, the University of North Carolina Kenan-Flagler, or Columbia show higher salaries for business graduates than schools that are much smaller or lesser known. Also, graduates of higher quality schools in general are paid more. For instance, for-profit, non-regulated programs, such as many of the online business schools, have graduates with lower salaries and higher unemployment rates, versus business schools that are supported by a country's government or larger sector.


1. (2005, January 1). "The ROI of the MBA." BizEd.

2. "Census Stats Show Degree Holders Less Likely to be Unemployed." National Association of Student Financial and Administrators.

3. (2012, October 17). "Master's Degrees: Are They Worth it?" Fox Business.com.

4. (2012, November 19). "MBA Pay: The Devil is in the Details." Businessweek.com.