Graduate Management News
Data & Trends

Latest GMAC Survey Shows MBA Graduates Upbeat About Future, Pleased with Their Education

Despite the economy, recent MBA graduates are upbeat about their experience in graduate business school and their prospects for the future, according the 2008 GMAC Global MBA® Graduate Survey.

Among graduates of full-time programs, for example, 93 percent consider their degree a good to outstanding value, and 91 percent would recommend their school to someone interested in pursuing a graduate business degree. And on average, respondents with offers of employment had received 2.3 such offers by the time of the survey in March.

The class of 2008 had the highest percentage—57 percent—of respondents who received or accepted an offer of employment compared with all previous survey years. In recent years, the annual survey has shown a continued increase in the percentage of full-time MBA graduates who had received or accepted an offer of employment by the time they responded to the survey.

Satisfied Customers

The MBA also continues to make a big difference in salary. Respondents from full-time MBA programs expected to receive a robust 66.5 percent increase over their pre-MBA salary, and those with job offers reported receiving an average increase of 73.6 percent.

How well did graduates like their school? Ninety-five percent of students in full-time programs were somewhat to extremely satisfied with their school’s culture—attributes like curriculum, class size, and quality and style of learning. Overall, 61% of the graduates of part-time MBA programs considered their degree an outstanding or excellent value. Graduates of part-time MBA programs in 2008 were significantly more likely than previous classes to rate the overall value of the degree as outstanding or excellent. Among respondents from executive MBA (EMBA) programs, some 88 percent rated their degree as a good to outstanding value; overall, 69 percent of respondents would definitely recommend their school.

Salary Expectations

In terms of compensation, the MBA continues to add to a graduate’s overall competitiveness. Seventy percent of respondents with job offers expected to receive a signing bonus. Respondents from part-time MBA programs who had received or accepted an offer of employment reported salary increases over pre-MBA salary of 53 percent. Graduates of executive MBA programs in 2008 expect to receive a 36-percent increase over their pre-MBA salaries.

Fields of Dreams

The top five job areas for graduates in this year’s survey include:

1. finance/accounting (31%)
2. marketing/sales (20%)
3. consulting (17%)
4. general management (14%)
5. operations/logistics (9%)

Looking at trends in choice of career fields over the last few years, the graduating class of 2008 was more likely than previous classes to seek an operations/logistics position after graduation. The classes of 2006 through 2008 were less likely than the classes of 2003 and 2004 to want a marketing/sales or consulting position. The classes of 2007 and 2008 were more likely than previous classes to plan on a human resources position. The graduating classes of 2006 through 2008 were slightly less likely than previous classes to plan employment in the finance/accounting industry.

Respondents from the graduating class of 2008 were slightly more likely than previous classes to favor employment in the energy/utility industry. Additionally, the classes of 2005 through 2008 were slightly less likely than previous classes to plan employment in the technology industry.

A Good Fit

In terms of what graduates are looking for in the culture of organizations they work for, respondents from full-time programs reported that room for growth, fit with company culture, and positive organizational climate were the most important criteria when selecting a place to work after graduation. These have been the top-three selection criteria for the past three years of survey.

The 2008 survey results show that full-time students continue to be more satisfied with their alma maters’ career services than their peers in past years. The past three classes of full-time MBA graduates (2006–2008) were more likely than previous classes to rate the quality of career services as outstanding or excellent.

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