Does It Pay to Get a Specialized MBA Degree?

All-new survey findings reveal that a quarter of employers will pay a salary premium for graduates with specialized MBA degrees in 2017.

Aug 3, 2017

B-School Outcomes

Business school candidate

An increasing number of graduate business schools now offer specialized MBA programs that allow candidates to develop deep management expertise in a specific industry. Examples of such specializations include an MBA in risk management, human resource management, entrepreneurship, luxury brand management, and supply chain management, to name a few. The emergence of these programs has led many candidates to wonder if the specialized knowledge acquired through these programs translates to higher starting salaries when they land a job in their industry of expertise.

For the first time, the findings of the 2017 Corporate Recruiters Survey show that 1 in 4 employers who plan to hire recent MBA graduates in 2017 say that specialized MBA graduates tend to receive higher starting salaries compared to traditional MBA graduates. Employers in the manufacturing industry are the most likely to say they tend to offer higher starting salary to those with a specialized MBA degree (40%), compared with 28 percent of finance/accounting companies, 26 percent of technology companies, and 22 percent of consulting companies. 

Companies located in Asia-Pacific and Latin America are more than twice as likely as companies in the United States and Europe to say they tend to offer a salary premium to specialized MBA graduates. Forty-five percent of Asia-Pacific companies and 43 percent of Latin American companies say they tend to offer higher starting salaries to specialized MBAs compared with 20 percent of US companies and 16 percent of European companies. 

Specialists' Premium

Paying a premium for expertise also seems to be more likely among smaller organizations. Nearly 2 in 5 family-owned companies (39%) and companies with fewer than 100 employers (39%) report a tendency to offer higher starting salaries to specialized MBAs. In comparison, just 15 percent of respondents from the Fortune Global 500 and 20 percent of respondents from the Fortune Global 100 report doing so. 

For more information on MBA and business master’s hiring, compensation, and employer recruitment strategies, download the 2017 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report at