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February 2013

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

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GMAC’s 2013 Alumni Perspectives Survey was conducted in September and followed up with 4,444 alumni from the classes of 2000 to 2012, including 834 members of the class of 2012. The longitudinal survey asks about career progression and the relevance and value of their degrees over time. Schools can register to participate in the Fall 2013 study at

2013 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report

2013 Alumni Perspectives Survey Data Report (for GMAT accepting schools)

Job Market Strong for Those Earning Graduate Business Degrees; Low Concern about Loan Repayment for Alumni

Those earning graduate degrees in business and management last year enjoyed a receptive job market, as 92 percent of 2012 graduates surveyed by the Graduate Management Admission Council were employed three months after graduation. Findings from the latest Alumni Perspectives Survey show a gain of six percentage points compared to 2011 graduates surveyed at the same time the year before.                         

In addition, some 77 percent of the class of 2012 graduates surveyed said their starting salary met or exceeded their expectations, and 76 percent said they could not have gotten their job without their graduate management education.

The annual survey of 4,444 MBA and other graduate-level alumni found that students realize that loans are a necessary part of their overall financial investment, with 60 percent of alumni taking out loans to finance their graduate management education. When surveyed several months before graduation, 59 percent of the class of 2012 expected to graduate with debt, however, the results found no relationship between a student’s debt load and the student’s assessment of educational quality, value or reputation of their program.

Existence of debt among alumni varied by program type with 67 percent of full-time MBA alumni reported having loans, compared with 47 percent of part-time MBA alumni, 50 percent of executive MBA alumni and 48 percent of non-MBA master’s degree-holders.

“While most alumni had debt from their education, most were not concerned about repayment,” said Laura Leach, GMAC’s survey research manager. “The benefits of a graduate management degree, like having more opportunities for challenging and interesting work, developing managerial skills, entrepreneurial opportunities, and networking were more important than higher salaries,” continued Leach.

Job satisfaction among business graduates appears to be tied to doing work that involves thought leadership and intellectual engagement. New analysis in the study revealed which specific tasks are key influencers on job satisfaction; shown in the image below. The larger the bubble size, the greater the influence on job satisfaction.  

Job Satisfaction

Of survey respondents who have yet to pay off their loans, 50 percent said they had no concerns about doing so. Thirty-three percent reported some concern about their ability to repay their loans based on their current financial situation, and only 18 percent of alumni said they were very or extremely concerned. Similar to responses collected before graduation in 2012, debt burden does not change or determine how alumni view the value of their education—94 percent of alumni who reported holding loan debt after graduation rated the value of their education as good to outstanding compared with the 95 percent of alumni with no loan debt who also rated their education highly for value. Overall, regardless of program type, alumni experienced a 50 percent return on their investment two years after graduation and a full return after four years.

Higher salaries have long been a benefit of an MBA degree and the survey found that those graduating from full-time two-year MBA programs had a median salary of US$85,000, with additional compensation of US$10,000, whereas those graduating in 2012 from full-time one-year MBA programs had a median salary of US$59,000 with additional compensation of US$5,500. Median starting salaries of 2012 graduates varied most widely by work location (shown in US dollars): Europe: $105,120; US: $83,000; Canada: $81,443; Asia/Pacific Islands: $52,329; Latin America: $48,557; and, India: $27,818.

Other key findings about business school alumni work life include:

  • Alumni across all graduation years work an average of 48 hours spread across a five-day workweek; 45 percent use a flexible schedule option; and, 43 percent telecommute.
  • The ability to exercise autonomy on the job, particularly a flexible work schedule, has a significant impact on job satisfaction and productivity. Alumni who work a flexible schedule increased their job satisfaction 12 percent over those without the option.
  • Tasks that influenced alumni job satisfaction most positively were exercising leadership skills, thinking analytically, developing strategic plans, and using problem-solving skills.
  • More than 95 percent of alumni rated the value of their education as good to outstanding. Having more opportunities for progressively challenging and interesting work, developing managerial skills, and the flexibility to become an entrepreneur were top outcomes alumni cited as contributing to the value of their graduate management degree.

 The GMAC 2013 Alumni Perspectives Summary Report is available at

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