Graduate Management News

November 2014

The Newsletter of the Graduate Management Admission Council

The Class of 2014: Insights from the Newest Crop of B-School Alumni

Fresh out of business school, the employment status, starting salary, and value assessment of alums about their degree can set the tone for the next applicant pool.

Alumni Poll

Of course, in any given year, global and regional economic conditions will determine the employment situation for newly minted MBA and Specialized Business Master’s graduates. 


Feedback from nearly 900 newly minted b-school alumni on their employment, compensation, and overall value of their business school experience offer conversation points schools can use with potential applicants, and suggest what to be prepared for as the class of 2015 students approach graduation and the job recruiting season. Here are three actions inspired by this article that your school can consider: 

  • Help prospects gauge the potential financial returns of their degree by sharing the newest alumni employment rates and salaries. For example, longitudinal data for US citizens show full-time two-year MBA alumni from the class of 2014 report the highest median starting salaries seen in the past five years. 
  • Discuss the personal, professional, and financial rewards that lead 95% of class of 2014 business school alumni to agree to doing it all over again if given the chance. 
  • Tweet data and quotes from business school alumni to inspire new applicants, like: 
    • Majority of #bschool #alumni in class of 2014 employed 3 months after graduation. #MBAvalue
    • 3% #bschool class of 2014 #alumni are self-employed; majority say degree gave knowledge skills & abilities to develop the biz #entrepreneur
    • Alumni from #bschool class of 2014 still in the job search believe lack of functional/work experience is to blame #internship 

Employment Rates for Class of 2014 B-School AlumniGMAC collected survey responses from 849 global alumni who graduated in the class of 2014 in the annual poll conducted in September/October. Results of the poll show that three months after graduating from business school, employment rates for these newest alumni bear witness to the varying economic conditions (see data below). 

MBAs and Specialized Business Master’s degree-holders in the class of 2014 entered the workforce just as the US market continued its measured upward trend, the European markets were stabilizing after volatility earlier in the year, and Asian markets were on the cusp of an upward swing. Alumni from programs located in the United States and India had greatest rates of employment participation (ranging from 82% to 98% depending on degree type) compared with alumni elsewhere in Asia-Pacific, Europe, and Canada. 


Employment Spans Many Sectors 

Employed business school alumni from the Class of 2014 work in a variety of industries: products and services (20%), consulting (17%), finance and accounting (16%), and technology (16%). Also, 10% work in health care, 8% in government and nonprofit, 8% in manufacturing, and 5% in energy and utilities. 

The most common industry sectors by citizenship for class of 2014 b-school alumni are: 

  • Asia-Pacific: Consulting (26%), finance and accounting (26%) 
  • India: Technology (28%), consulting (25%) 
  • Africa/Middle East: Products and services (39%), technology (17%) 
  • Europe: Consulting (32%), product and services (21%) 
  • Canada: Consulting (33%), finance and accounting (22%) 
  • United States: Products and services (19%), finance and accounting (16%) 

Starting Salaries Vary by Work Location 

As with employment findings, starting salaries for class of 2014 alumni are influenced by a number of factors, such as years of work experience, industry, and job function, as well as differences in regional industry norms and cost-of-living, for example. The graphic below shows the median annual base salary by work location. 

Also displayed is the median starting salary and additional compensation of US citizens who graduated from a full-time two-year MBA program—the only group for which longitudinal data is available. At USD$94,000, the median starting salary for US citizens who recently completed full-time two-year MBA programs is the highest it’s been in five years. 

Alumni of MBA programs typically saw the biggest earnings increases between their pre-degree and post-degree salaries, as noted by this respondent: 

“Before pursuing my MBA, my career had stalled. My employer was aware of my studies, which resulted in me being promoted three times in the past three years. My salary has almost doubled since beginning the MBA program. My level of responsibility within the company has also increased tremendously.” 

Outcomes Drive Value of Business School 

Ninety-five percent of these new business school alumni consider their degree to be a good to outstanding value. That value rating remains high even among alumni who are still seeking jobs—86% compared with 96% of those who are working. 

These recent alumni base their value assessments on outcomes—how their graduate management education prepared them for their careers, developed their qualitative analytical skills, and laid the groundwork for leadership positions. In addition, they linked increased earnings power, quantitative skill development, and opportunity to build a professional network to overall value. An overwhelming majority (95%) of class of 2014 alumni would recommend a graduate business degree to others. 

“Anyone managing a business in real life should take an MBA. The amount of knowledge I acquired through the program will enhance my contribution to the business and will enable me to move on to greater roles in my career.” 

A variety of other measures illustrate this, as well—92% of alumni agree their education was personally rewarding, 88% professionally rewarding, and 66% financially rewarding. Fresh from completing their programs, when asked if they would still have pursued a graduate management degree, 93% would still do so. 

“Value of education cannot be measured in quantitative terms like ROI, rather in qualitative effects like change in mindset, strong peer bond, and professional network—not to mention the 'branded for life' tag.” 


A graduate business education continues to be a rewarding experience for students in terms of their personal and professional experience as well as financial gains. Despite some drag on employment in various world regions for this newest class, they readily recommend the degree to others and are ready to do it all over again if given the chance. As one alumnus stated, it was an “amazing experience from start to finish. Getting an MBA was the most enriching and rewarding educational experience of my life. I finally understand how the world works.” 

About the Authors 

Gregg ShoenfeldGregg Schoenfeld is director of survey research for the Graduate Management Admission Council. Register today to get your class of 2015 graduating business school students included in our free annual survey. 

Paula Bruggeman

Paula Bruggeman is editor/writer manager in the Research Department at GMAC.