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Can Stanford MBA Grads’ Pay Climb Any Higher?

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Wondering what kind of pay day you can expect if you are among the select 6 percent of applicants who gain admission to Stanford Graduate School of Business (GSB)? Are you sitting down? Perhaps you should be, because the school’s 2017 employment report—released today—reveals record-breaking salaries for the third year in a row.

On average, last year’s graduates, now in their first year of post-MBA work, are pulling down an annual base salary of $144,455—a $4,000 increase over last year’s all-time high. (Median base compensation was $140,000, also besting last year’s by about $4,000.) But it doesn’t stop there. Average signing bonuses, reported by 51 percent of the class, are also up—setting a new record at $29,534. (Median salary bonuses remained unchanged at $25,000.) And as if that weren’t enough, another quarter of the class reported other guaranteed compensation (OGC) surpassing last year’s all-time highs by a whopping $10,000. Average OGC for 2017 grads was $83,065, and median OCG was $50,000. The range was $6,750 to $450,000.

The GSB, in announcing these most recent employment statistics, pointed out that OGC will no longer be tracked by the MBA Career Services and Employer Alliance (CSEA) and that it began last year capturing an “Expected Performance Bonus” metric in its place. This measure includes both guaranteed and non-guaranteed cash compensation based on performance. Though the average and median EPB for the Class of 2017, at $71,946 and $35,000, were each lower than OGC figures, a full 65 percent of the class expected to receive such performance-based compensation, up from 61 percent last year—and substantially higher than the quarter of grads who reported OGC. The reported range for EPB was $5,000 to $450,000.

Stanford MBAs claim higher pay days than graduates of any other school, in part thanks to higher base compensation. Stanford’s median base—$140,000—surpassed that of Harvard Business School (HBS) ($135,000), the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School ($130,000), and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business ($125,000). Grads from both Stanford and HBS reported the same median starting bonus of $25,000, but the $50,000 in other guaranteed compensation reported by Stanford grads was double what grads at the school’s top East Coast rival reported.

Tech Less of a Draw Than in Prior Years
Bucking the trend at many other business schools—where increasing percentages of students are clamoring to enter the technology industry—fewer Stanford MBA Class of 2017 grads headed into tech. In what the school deemed “a rebalancing of the scales among the three top industries,” interest in technology dropped 8 percentage points—to a mere 25 percent of the class. Almost a third of the class—32 percent—headed into finance, up a point over last year. Consulting, too, gained four percentage points to attract 20 percent of the most recent class.

“Our leading employers span a wide variety of industries,” Maeve Richard, assistant dean and director of the Career Management Center, said as part of a news story announcing the latest employment statistics on the Stanford GSB site. “They represent organizations in such areas as consulting, finance, technology, consumer products, healthcare, and nonprofits. What they do have in common is work environments that offer the ability to make an impact with a focus on agency, career development, diverse challenges, and responsibilities.”

Indeed, a record-setting 411 organizations hired Stanford MBA students and graduates for internships or full-time roles this past year—up 7 percent over last year and 34 percent from six years ago. A whopping 95 percent of employers hired just one or two students—an indication of the breadth both of GSB employers and student interest.

Uptick in Women Headed into Private Equity and Venture Capital
“In addition, we observed that the number of women going to private equity and venture capital has nearly doubled since 2014,” Richard said as part of the Stanford GSB article. “While we do not disclose fine-grain gender detail and the numbers are still small, we see a definite widening of the cracks in the glass ceiling.”

It’s no wonder that Stanford GSB women would increasingly be looking to break into PE and VC, since those fields yield some of the very highest pay days. The highest reported base salary for the Class of 2017—$285,000—went to a graduate headed into venture capital. Median base salaries for both PE and VC were $175,000, $40,000 higher than for the class as a whole. And it was a graduate headed into a private equity analyst role who reported the mind-boggling $450,000 in other guaranteed compensation. The median signing bonus for PE—at $50,000—was also the highest in the class (on par with investment banking). Though it was a graduate headed into a marketing role who claimed the highest signing bonus of the class, $77,000.

Timing and Location of Offers
Stanford GSB reports full-time offer and acceptance rates at graduation and three months out from graduation—as mandated by CSEA standards. But in past years—as this year—the school has made a point of underscoring the fact that its graduates’ confidence in their ability to find the perfect job sometimes means they hold out longer in accepting their ultimate position than graduates from some other schools. That said, 92 percent of the Class of 2017 had offers three months out from graduation—up two points over last year—and 88 percent had accepted offers, a five-point increase year over year.

In terms of where geographically the most recent Stanford MBA grads wound up, the West was the winner—with 62 percent of grads choosing to remain in the region. This represents a 3 percent decline compared to last year. “Counter to assumptions, only 35 percent of these West region jobs relate to technology,” the school notes. “Finance represented 26 percent, and consulting represented 15 percent.” The Northeastern United States drew the second-most Stanford grads, 16 percent of the class. Another 11 percent took international jobs.

Also of note, 16 percent of the class launched their own startups upon graduation, up one percentage point over last year. Leading industries for these entrepreneurial students include software (15 percent), finance (11 percent), healthcare (9 percent), real estate (9 percent), and internet services (9 percent).

More Grads Seek Socially Responsible Roles
Another notable shift in these most recent employment statistics is the increasing number of Stanford MBA grads heading into careers in socially responsible roles or organizations. Thirteen percent of this year’s graduates answered yes to the question, “Have you chosen a socially responsible role in a private business?” That’s up from just 8 percent last year, when the question was first introduced.

Watch this space for an upcoming piece that will highlight several Stanford students who chose internships focused on social impact this past summer—a Clear Admit exclusive.

For the full Stanford GSB 2017 Employment Report, click here.