Best Business Schools Blog

Starting Salaries for Undergraduate, MBA, and Doctoral Business School Graduates

Posted July 28, 2016 by Andrea Smith - Senior Associate, Marketing Communications - AACSB International

You’re freshly graduated from business school and in search of a job. Among all of the other factors involved in where you’re applying (field, location, health benefits, on-site massage services), you’re trying to find a place that can offer a competitive salary. But what’s the running average for new hires in your area? The truth is, the typical starting pay for recently graduated students varies tremendously across the board. We’ve broken down some of the main factors below to give an overview of business graduates’ recent starting salaries*.

A new graduate with a four-year degree makes an average of 49,768 USD per year, compared to 95,449 USD for MBA graduates, and 124,550 USD for doctoral graduates. However, the school you attend makes a difference. Institutions that are AACSB accredited produce students with higher starting salaries than those that aren’t.

Starting Salary by AACSB Accreditation Status in USD

The institutional control of your school—whether it’s public or private—is also important; undergraduate- and doctoral-level graduates from private universities versus public ones earn higher starting salaries, while MBA salaries are not significantly affected.

Starting Salary by Business School Institutional Control

Undergraduates’ salaries also appear to be impacted by the type of communities their schools are located in. Alumni of rural campuses earn almost 12 percent less in starting salaries than those of suburban and urban campuses.

Starting Salary by Business School Community Type, undergraduate

Where you go to school matters. When searching for the best business school for you, consider these factors as part of your criteria, if salary is one of your motivating reasons for pursuing a business degree.

*Clarification as of August 11, 2016:

When choosing a business school, graduating salary can be important. But this information should be evaluated across a matrix of factors. Some such factors are listed within institutional profiles in, and others should be researched carefully. As such, students are encouraged to evaluate data provided by their desired schools for more detailed insight regarding estimated starting salaries.

The images in this blog post have been updated to include the number of responding schools per data point reference. Additionally, salary data shown are weighted averages derived from AACSB's 2015–16 Business School Questionnaire Employment Module, which had a total of 257 responding schools, of which 175 schools reported graduate starting salaries.