Business School Fosters New Career Paths; Generates High ‘Customer’ Approval Ratings from Satisfied Alumni

Latest survey results show how a graduate business degree can help alumni pivot to new careers.

Mar 21, 2017


The pace of change in the workforce seems to be accelerating at dizzying rates these days, with the effects of globalization, automation, and information technology changing career paths and disrupting the very ways in which businesses operate. It can lend an air of uncertainty about our shared economic future, but it also holds promise for those with the flexibility, preparation, and skills to seize upon new opportunities in the marketplace.

The findings presented in the 2017 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report testify to the successful outcomes of nearly 15,000 business school alumni who decided to undertake a graduate business education and leverage what they learned to redirect the course of their careers. In their own words, they attest to the value of their educational experience and the crucial role that their business programs played in connecting them with new opportunities.

GMAC conducted the Alumni Perspectives Survey from September through November 2016 with the participation of 14,651 alumni who represent more than 1,100 graduate business programs around the world at more than 300 universities located in 46 countries. Survey respondents include three generations of graduate business alumni, from Baby Boomers to Millennials, who currently work in 122 countries.

Career Possibilities GraphicB-School Expands Career Horizons. More than half of the alumni in the survey sample (52%) are employed in an industry or job function that differs from their pre-degree employment. In fact, 2 in 5 alumni currently work in an industry they never considered prior to starting business school. Rather, they found new career opportunities after graduating and 88 percent are satisfied with their job and employer. For example, 51 percent of alumni currently working for a nonprofit organization and 45 percent of those in manufacturing did not initially consider these sectors for postgraduate employment.

Faster Organizational Advancement and Boost in Earnings. Three-quarters of alumni (75%) say their degree yielded faster career advancement, and 8 in 10 say it prepared them for leadership positions (86%). For example, half of alumni from the class of 2016 (51%) currently occupy mid-level positions in their companies. In contrast, 70 percent of alumni who graduated 10 years ago, in 2007, currently hold senior, executive, or c-suite positions. Alumni who are 10 years out of school are nearly twice as likely to have supervisory and budgetary responsibilities compared with class of 2016 graduates.

Business school alumni earn 76 percent of their total compensation in base salary, on average. As they advance up the career ladder, a greater proportion of their compensation comes from non-salary sources such as bonuses. On average, the total compensation package for alumni can range from a median of US$75,513 for an entry-level position upward to a median of US$440,122 for a c-suite executive.

High Loyalty Rankings for Alma Maters. Nearly all (95%) alumni give their graduate management education high marks for value, rating their degrees a good to outstanding value. The majority says their degree is personally (93%), professionally (91%), and financially (76%) rewarding. Alumni likelihood to recommend their program to others yields an average Net Promoter—customer loyalty—score of 47 for graduate business schools, a greater score than received by companies in many sectors of the economy.

Industries, Job Functions Vary by Degree Type. Nine in 10 alumni (92%) are currently employed, either with an organization (81%) or as self-employed business owners (11%). They work across a broad spectrum of industries with the greatest proportion employed in products and services (27%), technology (14%), and finance and accounting (11%). Sixty-two percent work for companies with an international focus.

Degree type often differentiates alumni career paths. By industry sector, MBA alumni are more likely to work in technology, nonprofit and government, manufacturing, health care, and energy and utilities. Non-MBA business master’s graduates are more likely to be found employed in the finance, accounting, and consulting sectors. As for job functions, MBA alumni, given the generalist nature of the degree, are more likely to work in a wider variety of positions such as marketing, sales, operations, logistics, and general management. Non-MBA business master’s grads are more likely to work in areas of finance, accounting, and human resources.

B-School Supports Alumni Entrepreneurial Pursuits. More than 1,500 entrepreneurs responded to the GMAC® alumni survey, making up 11 percent of the sample. Most of these alumni entrepreneurs (65%) began their businesses after working for a company following graduation. One in 8 sought venture capital for their business and 72 percent of these individuals received such funding. Half of alumni entrepreneurs say their university provided access to resources to support their endeavors, such as faculty guidance, experts from the community, and mentors.

For more insights on value ratings for schools by program type; regional employment statistics by industry, job function, and job level; detailed compensation data by industry, job level and function; and workplace skills, download the full summary report at