MBA Salaries in the US Highest on Record

MBA Graduates Continue to Realize Salary Premiums Across Hiring Markets

RESTON, Va. (May 28, 2019) – The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC), a global association of leading graduate business schools, in partnership with MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance and European Foundation for Management Development (EFMD), has released its Business School Hiring Report based on findings from the annual Corporate Recruiters Survey, with over 1,200 employers in 45 countries providing insight into current market and hiring trends among MBA and business master’s graduates.   

Recent graduates with an advanced business degree, particularly in the US, are procuring substantial starting salaries.  The median annual base starting salary US employers plan to offer new MBA hires in 2019 is US$115,000, more than double the median for new bachelor’s degree hires (US$55,000) and the highest ever recorded in the US when adjusted for inflation.  By industry among US employers, median MBA starting salaries are highest in the consulting (US$135,000) and finance/accounting (US$125,000) industries.

“Employers clearly place a high value on acquiring MBA and business master’s graduates,” said Sangeet Chowfla, President and CEO of GMAC.  “We are seeing a highly active candidate marketplace in terms of geographical shifts in study destinations, but the value that both employers and graduates see in an advanced business degree is a constant.”

Overall, most employers plan to increase MBA starting salaries in 2019 (56%), including 63 percent of Asia-Pacific employers, 56 percent of US employers, and 49 percent of European employers. Median annual base starting salaries vary considerably by world region. European companies plan to offer new MBA hires US$95,000 this year, and the median for Asia-Pacific companies is US$45,000.

US companies’ international hiring plans are similar to last year; recent H-1B rule changes could positively impact 2020 hiring.

Forty-eight percent of US employers either plan to or are willing to hire international candidates in 2019, about the same as 2018 (47%) and down from 55 percent in 2017. This year’s survey was fielded in February and March, before the recent H-1B rule change became official on April 1. The rule change stands to benefit international graduates with advanced degrees from US institutions of higher education over graduates with bachelor’s degrees.

“There has been a feeling of uncertainty in recent years around the direction of US visa policy, which is impacting international hiring and application trends,” Chowfla continued.  “It will be interesting to see how much positive impact this rule change may have on both the flow of international students to the US and their employment opportunities.” 

Employer MBA hiring plans remain strong but have moderated for the second consecutive year.

While MBA hiring projections remain strong relative to historic trends, for the second consecutive year a smaller proportion of companies overall report plans to hire MBA talent compared with the previous year.  Among US employers, 77 percent plan to hire MBA talent in 2019, down for the second consecutive year.  A slightly smaller proportion of responding US companies report plans to grow and expand this year (66%) compared with last year (69%), as worries associated with talk of trade wars and higher tariffs may be impacting employer plans. 

Nearly nine in 10 (87%) companies in Asia-Pacific plan to hire MBAs in 2019—the highest share of any world region, though off slightly compared with last year (90%). Nearly 7 in 10 European companies plan to hire MBAs in 2019 (69%), up from 2018 projections (64%).

Other International Hiring Trends and Determining Factors

International hiring is on the rise among Asia-Pacific and European companies as US companies continue to pull back. Seventy-one percent and 69 percent of European and Asia-Pacific companies, respectively, either plan to or are willing to hire international candidates in 2019, both up from recent years.

Across world regions, reasons differ for not hiring international talent. US employers are notably more likely to cite uncertainty about future changes in policy/law as a factor (25%), which further emphasizes the potential positive impact around the recent H-1B rule change.  While in European or Asia-Pacific companies, 15% and 11% respectively cite policy/law as a determining factor in hiring.

“Our recent research reported on the decline in US companies recruiting international students from MBA and specialty master’s programs based on uncertainty about economic conditions,” said Megan Hendricks, Executive Director for the MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance.  “While the decline in this year’s GMAC report holds steady with regard to US business’ plans to hire foreign talent, we hope the recent H-1B visa rule change will encourage students to study in the US in order to diversify b-school classrooms and talent pools.” 

“This year’s GMAC report on MBA and GME hiring trends shows the tremendous opportunities graduates have when they finish their business studies,” said Eric Cornuel, Director General & CEO of EFMD.  “The growth of quality business schools around the world has also been met with increased employment opportunities for graduates in emerging markets and regional economies.  Now is an exciting time to be pursuing an MBA and business master’s degree.”   

Survey of business school candidates highlights the diverse array of career opportunities students pursue with GME.

GMAC also released a new Career Aspirations Report based on 10 years of data from the Prospective Students Survey. The new report highlights how the mix of GME candidates’ aspirations for their careers post-GME have shifted over time, as now a greater share of candidates seek to enhance their current career path (41%) than switch job functions (36%) or industries (27%).

Candidate interest in consulting is high, as 36 percent identify it as a job function and industry of interest. Other industries of interest include finance/accounting (34% of candidates interested), products/services (27%), and technology (19%).  The desire for international employment also rose slightly (2%).

The report features detailed demographic breakdowns of candidates’ post-GME career interests, including by gender, age, and world region of citizenship.  Please visit the Market Intelligence and Research page on for continued updates on this and other issues relating to trends in graduate management education.

About GMAC

The Graduate Management Admission Council (GMAC) is an association of leading graduate business schools worldwide. Founded in 1953, we are committed to creating solutions for business schools and candidates to better discover, evaluate and connect with each other. We work on behalf of the schools and the graduate management education community, as well as guide candidates on their journey to higher education, to ensure that no talent goes undiscovered.

GMAC provides world-class research, professional development opportunities and assessments for the industry, designed to advance the art and science of admissions. Owned and administered by GMAC, the Graduate Management Admission Test™ (GMAT™) exam is the most widely used graduate business school assessment, recognized by more than 7,000 programs worldwide. Other GMAC assessments include the NMAT by GMAC™ (NMAT™) exam, for entrance into graduate management programs in India and 10 other countries, and the Executive Assessment (EA), specifically designed for executive programs around the world.

Our flagship portal for graduate management education resources and information,, receives 7 million visits a year and features the School Search matching tool and GMASS™ search service, matching candidates and business schools.