Change Makers: 2 In 5 Alumni Currently Work In An Industry They Hadn't Considered Prior To Enrollment

New Study Shows Graduate Business Programs Inspire New Career Pathways

RESTON, Va. (Feb. 28, 2017) – More than half of graduate business school alumni are currently employed in an industry or job function they did not have experience in prior to entering business school, according to a report released today by the Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a nonprofit organization of leading graduate business schools. Findings from the Council’s 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey show that 2 in 5 (39 percent) alumni currently work in an industry they hadn’t considered prior to starting business school; they learned of the opportunity while enrolled in a graduate business program, with 88 percent sharing that they are satisfied with their job and employer.

“Year after year our research has shown that a graduate management education offers significant personal, professional and financial rewards. We’re now seeing strong evidence of how valuable the degree is with regard to changing careers,” said Sangeet Chowfla, president and CEO of GMAC. “Given the current pace of change in the economy and the workplace, candidates can be confident in the knowledge that a graduate management education can prepare them with the skills and flexibility they need to be in a better position to pivot and adapt their careers when opportunities present themselves and industries are disrupted.”

The findings of the 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report detail the educat

ion and career outcomes of nearly 15,000 graduate business alumni representing 1,100 graduate business programs located around the world. The report highlights that the value proposition of a graduate business degree is high regardless of graduation year or program type.

Key Findings

Compensation for Business School Graduates

Nearly all (95 percent) survey respondents rate their graduate management education a good to outstanding value. On average, the total compensation package for graduate business school alumni can range from a median of US$75,513 for an entry-level position upward to a median of US$440,122 in total compensation for a C-suite executive. Business school alumni earn 76 percent of their total compensation in base salary, on average. As they advance up the career ladder, a greater proportion of their compensation comes from non-salary sources such as bonuses.

Employment Profile

Ninety-two percent of survey respondents are currently employed — 8 in 10 overall (81 percent) worldwide are employed with a company and 11 percent are self-employed entrepreneurs. Globally, the products and services (27 percent), technology (14 percent), and finance and accounting (11 percent) sectors employ the greatest proportion of alumni represented in this survey. Though alumni work across the spectrum of industries, their degree type often differentiates career paths. MBA alumni are more likely to work in technology, nonprofit and government, manufacturing, health care, energy, and utilities, compared with alumni holding non-MBA master’s degrees. Business master’s alumni, for example, are more likely to be found employed in finance, accounting and consulting industries.

As for job functions, MBA alumni are more likely to hold positions in marketing, sales, operations, logistics, and general management. Alumni of non-MBA business master’s degrees are more likely to work in finance, accounting, and human resource positions.

In total, more than 4 in 5 alumni agree their education prepared them for leadership positions (86 percent), prepared them for their chosen career (85 percent), and increased their earnings power (82 percent).

The Entrepreneur

Most alumni delay their entrepreneurial activities until after graduation. In fact, 2 in 3 alumni entrepreneurs began their business after graduation following employment at another company. One in 8 alumni entrepreneurs sought venture capital and 72 percent of these individuals received such funding. Half of the alumni entrepreneurs say their university provided faculty guidance, experts from the community, and mentors to guide their entrepreneurial activities.

Most Valued Skills in the Workplace

Alumni rank interpersonal skills as most important in the workplace, regardless of job level or function. Among the top five talents important to their job, the ones related to “people” skills or emotional intelligence are highly ranked by alumni, with interpersonal skills (e.g., active listening, persuasion and negotiation, time management) topping the list.

Other skills predominate as one moves up the corporate ladder. Alumni in higher-level positions are more likely to indicate that managing human capital, strategy and innovation, and the decision-making process are more important to their current job compared with alumni in lower-level positions.

Alumni Recommendations

Most alumni are very likely to recommend their graduate business program to colleagues and friends. The overall Net Promoter Score — a customer loyalty metric — that business schools receive from their alumni is 47, which is greater than scores received in many sectors of the economy. Net Promoter Scores are positive for all graduate business programs, although differences by program type range from 22 for Master in Management programs to 62 for full-time two-year MBA programs. If offered the choice, more than 9 in 10 (92 percent) alumni would have pursued their graduate management education knowing what they know now.

“Graduate business programs expose students to a wide range of opportunities and provide alumni with access to a variety of career outcomes,” said Chowfla. “It’s clear from the results that alumni feel their education helped prepare them for leadership positions, as well as enhanced their earnings potential and guided their career development. This positivity is reflected in their recommendation of a graduate management education to others.”  

To download the GMAC 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report, visit: For supporting graphics, visit the GMAC News Center.

About GMAC: The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is a nonprofit organization of 220 leading graduate business schools from around the world actively committed to advancing the art and science of admissions. The Council provides the solutions necessary for business schools and candidates to discover and evaluate one another to ensure that talent never goes undiscovered. GMAC owns and administers the Graduate Management Admission Test® (GMAT®) exam, used by more than 6,500 graduate programs worldwide, as well as the NMAT by GMAC™ exam, used for entrance into graduate management programs in India. The Council is based in Reston, Va., with offices in London, New Delhi and Hong Kong. Additional information about the GMAT exam is posted on For more information about GMAC, visit

Jennifer Garfinkel; Director of Media Relations, GMAC
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