Nearly 9 in 10 Companies Plan to Hire MBA Graduates in 2017

Hiring plans for international candidates remain steady despite recent political uncertainty.

Jun 20, 2017


Recent graduates of MBA and business master’s programs will be entering a strong hiring market in 2017, sought after by companies worldwide, according to results of a new employer survey that GMAC conducted earlier this year. Globally, 86 percent of companies that responded to the Council’s annual Corporate Recruiters Survey report plans to hire recent MBA graduates this year, up from 79 percent that hired them from the 2016 graduating class. Demand for these MBA graduates is strongest in the United States and the Asia-Pacific region, where 9 in 10 companies plan to hire these candidates.

“Despite the political uncertainty about the status of immigration and work visas in the United States and other parts of the world, companies are keen to hire graduates from this year’s MBA and business master’s programs, including international candidates,” said Sangeet Chowfla, GMAC president and CEO. “This signifies the value these programs create for students and the vital role their skill sets bring employers.”

At the time when GMAC conducted the Corporate Recruiter’s Survey in early 2017, respondents in Asia-Pacific, Europe, Latin America, and the United States declared their companies are staying the course with plans to hire international graduate business candidates, who often require additional legal documentation such as work permits or H1-B visas. Globally, 59 percent of the survey respondents either plan to hire (27%) or are willing to consider hiring (32%) international MBA and business master’s graduates who require such documentation—seven percentage points higher than in 2016.

Among U.S. employers, 55 percent either plan to hire (28%) or are open to hiring (27%) an international candidate in 2017, up from 49 percent who had such plans last year. The technology sector in the United States is more likely than other U.S. industry sectors to hire international business graduates this year—50 percent plan to hire such candidates in 2017, up from 27 percent who reported such plans last year.

Hiring Demand for Business Master’s Graduates Also Looks Bright

Overall, a greater percentage of employers plan to hire graduates of business master’s programs in 2017, especially those with Master in Management and Master of Accounting degrees.

  • 59 percent of companies plan to hire Master in Management graduates this year, up from 50 percent that hired them in 2016. Notably, 70 percent of manufacturers report plans to hire these graduates in 2017, compared with 50 percent that hired them last year.
  • Hiring demand for Master of Accounting graduates is projected to hold steady in 2017, with 42 percent of employers indicating plans to hire these graduates compared with 39 percent who hired them last year. Companies in Asia-Pacific (56%) and Latin America (56%) have the greatest hiring demand for these graduates.
  • Globally, 48 percent of employers plan to hire Master of Finance graduates in 2017, up from 45 percent who hired them last year.

MBA Starting Salaries to Reflect 83 Percent Premium Over Bachelor’s Salaries

  • In 2017, more than half (52%) of survey respondents report they will increase starting MBA base salaries at (34%) or above (18%) the inflation rate. Latin America and Asia-Pacific have the greatest share of companies (74% and 59% respectively) that will increase MBA salaries at or above the inflation rate this year. Most companies in Europe and the United States (57% and 51%, respectively) will keep salary rates for new MBA hires the same as 2016.
  • The projected median base starting salary in 2017 for recent MBA graduates in the United States is US$110,000, up from a median of US$105,000 in 2016. This represents an 83 percent premium over recent bachelor’s degree-holders in the United States, who can expect a median starting salary of US$60,000 in 2017. (Other regional salary data was not available due to insufficient response rates.)

More Start-Ups Plan to Hire MBAs in 2017

  • For the first time, this year’s survey report breaks out the responses specifically among start-up companies, revealing a promising 2017 hiring outlook for business school graduates. Three in 4 start-ups plan to hire recent MBA graduates in 2017, up from the 52 percent that hired them in 2016. More start-ups also plan to hire graduates of Master in Management (37 percent), Master of Accounting (23 percent), and Master of Finance (25 percent) programs.

Data Analytics Expertise in Demand

  • Nearly 7 in 10 employers (69%) report that their companies plan to place recent MBA and business master’s graduates in data analytics roles in 2017, just trailing marketing, business development, and finance roles, each at 71 percent. By industry, the greatest share of companies seeking recent business graduates for data analytics roles includes the tech sector (87%), health care and pharmaceuticals (75%), and products and services (75%).

GMAC conducted the 16th annual Corporate Recruiters Survey in February and March 2017 together with survey partners EFMD and MBA Career Services & Employer Alliance (MBA CSEA), in association with 97 participating graduate business schools. Survey findings are based on responses from 959 employers representing more than 628 companies in 51 countries worldwide. Two additional organizations, CEMS and RelishMBA, assisted with recruitment of survey participants.

The GMAC® 2017 Corporate Recruiters Survey Report has been produced in PowerPoint slide deck format saved as a PDF file. To download the full report, visit