MBA Salaries, Cost, “Bad” MBAs, Online MBAs, and Diversity in Business School

Hello 👋 I’m Jonny, Media Manager at Career Protocol and someone whose old apartment can’t keep the heat in. For now, I’m stockpiling as many MBA resources as I can find to see me through the rest of the winter. 

Welcome MBA applicants! We’re at the very end of the crossover period where Round 2 applicants and those just considering an application this year exist in the same plane simultaneously. It’s the very final steps of interviews (and the dreaded wait) for you tired and lucky few, so take a moment to appreciate how far you’ve come and everything you’ve managed to achieve since beginning your application last year. We hope the application process was enlightening and fulfilling despite being somewhat long and gruelling as well. For the rest of you bright young things at the “consideration” stage, behold your future, and despair!

We’re kidding, there’s no need to worry about all that yet. Shelve your stress until at least April, please, we’ve got plenty of leisurely research left for us yet.

Here’s a summary of the MBA Bulletin this month:

💕 Beyond the top 10 Business Schools

💕 MBA salaries: the cold facts

💕 How much does an MBA cost?

💕 MBA tests: GMAT or GRE?

💕 Should I go Full-Time, Part-Time or Online?

💕 Diversity in Business School

💕 MBA News Round-up

Happy Big-Leap-Year-February!

Beyond the Top Business Schools: Are “Bad” MBAs Worth It?

Last month in the Bulletin we collected the top business schools in the US, Europe and beyond. In total, I listed 21 schools (7 for the US, 9 for Europe, 5 for the more difficult to group Rest of World). But there are over 13,000 business schools and 250,000 global MBA students, with 150,000 in the US. Of those 150,000, only around 3% go to one of these top schools.

So what about the remaining 97% – are they just wasting their time?

Here’s what Angela has to say about it.

In short, no. But it depends.

First: there are absolutely/ undoubtedly/ indubitably lots of business schools we would not recommend. MBA programs are expensive and take time out of your life you could be doing something else: if they do not offer a strong network with unique opportunities (and subsequent high wages) to their students – in short, if they don’t get their students to where they want to be – it’s difficult to see what value they provide that you can’t find in a good book. Getting to put “MBA” after your name isn’t worth $10,000’s by itself, at least to most people.

Second: there is no solid line that separates, say, the top 7 US schools from the next 23. In general, business schools will simply have slightly less in terms of prestige and opportunity as you make your way down the ranking list. Whatever point the offering is not worth the cost is down to your needs.

Third: as we discussed last monthMBA rankings obscure what’s unique about each program. If you have specific needs, the best school for you may well not be one of the classic top schools! 

  • Did you know that Berkeley Haas might have by far the most dedicated alumni network?
  • Did you know that last year Georgia Tech Scheller reported a graduate hiring rate of 100%?
  • Did you know that the average salary expectations of schools ranked 11-30 are barely less than the top 10?

So do your research! For more info, I’ve made a playlist of our school spotlight videos on YouTube.

This is a great time to subscribe to our YouTube channel for free MBA application advice straight to your feed every week!

The Best MBA Starting Salaries

Information on MBA salaries comes from two places: the schools themselves, who use their graduates’ starting salaries to recruit new students, and companies, who want to signal to future employees just how rich they could be.

Since it’s the beginning of the year, we’re still waiting on the last trickle of schools to release data from 2023 before compiling any kind of comprehensive list.

Here is US News’ round-up for 2022 which shows average wages from the very top US schools falling just under the $200,000 mark. Since then, many schools have reported crossing that boundary (e.g. Kellogg).

But wait! Business schools are a bit sneaky here – they include signing up bonuses in their calculations. The wages themselves (from Kellogg to HBS) tend to average closer to the $170,000 mark. Still, not bad!

Wages outside the US are uniformly lower. INSEAD report a median average of $109,600. But without geographical data on where in the world graduates work, it’s difficult to discern how much of this discrepancy is due to location or the business schools themselves.

When researching average starting salaries for your target schools, look out for the ones that break down salaries by industry like Wharton!

From the companies’ end, big MBA recruiters like McKinsey ($192,000!) will publish their offer to new MBAs, so if you have a target company in mind, they might just tell you what kind of $$$ lies in store. Or, maybe a report will do a whole industry for you

How Much Does an MBA Cost? Business School ROI

MBAs make money, this is hard to deny, but not before business schools take their cut.

Poets and Quants estimate that an MBA from a top US business school will set you back around $120,000 per year. The most expensive is Stanford GSB, which demands $250,000 over two years. Tuition fees make up the majority, with living expenses providing most of the rest.

This is why, for a lot of people, getting a scholarship is incredibly important. All the benefits of a post-MBA wage with potentially none of the upfront costs? Sign me up.

This is our speciality: our clients last year averaged scholarships of $129,000!

GMAT or GRE for MBA Admission?

We just released an MBA Monday video on this that I think is worth highlighting as we get to the period applicants start to decide what’s best for them.

In short: how good at tests are you? If you’re confident, then the GMAT is your choice. If not, our advice is to take the GRE. Why? Watch the video!

Should I go Full-Time, Part-Time or Online?

Broadly speaking, there are four main categories of MBA – full-time, part-time, online and executive – and while we cook up some brand-new YouTube videos to give you a deep insight into each one, here’s a good overview!

Suffice to say, most of what we, the business schools themselves and your distant relatives talk about in regards to MBAs are full-time programs. 

Part-time differ in the obvious: classes run evenings and weekends to allow you to continue working, vibing or whatever it is you need to do in the day. Relocation is often out of the question, so students tend to be more local and classes benefit from a student body still knee-deep in the business world. However, not all schools offer the same opportunities to part-time students, especially in terms of recruitment, so interrogate your schools of choice on this point in particular.

We field A LOT of questions about online MBAs – and for good reason: there are more online than full-time MBA students! Online MBAs are also significantly cheaper (Gies is $24,000) compared to full-time MBAs (as above: up to $250,000 for Stanford GSB!), can be done from anywhere, can scale to admit many more students and are, generally and partially as a result, easier to get into.

Do they offer the same peer-learning, salary, opportunity, network and growth opportunities of a full or part-time MBA? Absolutely not. Does that mean that for a lot of people they’re probably not worth doing at all? Yes. But scroll up to the section on “Beyond the Top 10” for the kinds of things you might think about when you decide what any MBA program can do for you and whether the cost is worth it. Online MBAs will have their place for some people!

To quickly touch on Executive MBAs, these are programs for people with more experience (think 10 years rather than 5) and therefore an entirely different beast to the others.

Diversity in Business School

Sadly, when a lot of people think about the kind of person who enrols for an MBA, they think of a white man called John. But nowadays, business schools are some of the most diverse institutions on the planet for gender, ethnicity and nationality. There’s no reason to think that your ethnic, regional, gender, sexuality or any similar background prevent you from going to business school, and I’m going to prove it to you.

Personally speaking, I am literally a white man named John and therefore the demographics of this one-person newsletter team are about as un-diverse as possible. Then again, can a one-person team be anything else?

I want to return to the excellent Forte 2023 report on female enrolment in MBA programs. Women make up an average of 42% of students, up 10 points in a decade. There are now 7 US programs with gender parity (45% or higher), with most not far off.

Bloomberg publish a somewhat flawed diversity index on US schools. Regardless of the fact it implies a program with 100% of people from a single ethnicity is the most diverse, it contains some great statistics on the extreme commitment to diversity from business schools as a whole. There’s still some way to go (reversing the list becomes a record of shame), but we’re getting there!

Our resident ex-adcommer Charli talks about the role of diversity in MBA enrolment here. Some highlights:

  • Diversity is considered incredibly important for the health of the class: more diverse experiences = a better learning environment for everyone.
  • But the applications to business schools are less diverse then the desired class profile.
  • This means some demographics are more competitive than others. Often they will be expected to have higher GMAT/GRE scores than average.
  • Pour one out for our Indian brothers, who have it worst in this regard.

Top MBA news round-up

It’s been a slow month for MBA news, which may be considered a good thing.

Picture of Jonny Hunter

Jonny Hunter

Media Manager

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