Wharton MBA Earns a Whopping $350,000 Starting Salary


January 18, 2011
by Suada Kolovic
You read correctly, a Wharton graduate nabbed the highest annual base salary last year with a private equity firm in New York. The staggering $350,000 starting salary was more than three times the median base salary – $110,000 – of the MBA’s classmates. Yet, these high paying salaries are anything but unique: MBAs from some of the top business schools in the U.S. – Wharton, Stanford, U. Chicago, Columbia and Northwestern – reported that the highest base salary received by a 2010 graduate was $300,000 or more. These figures come from annual summaries of employment of the most recent graduating class. The Wharton MBA career report, which gets its data from student surveys, includes information on compensation, location of employment and the industries in which the graduates now work.

You read correctly, a Wharton graduate nabbed the highest annual base salary last year with a private equity firm in New York. The staggering $350,000 starting salary was more than three times the median base salary – $110,000 – of the MBA’s classmates. Yet, these high paying salaries are anything but unique: MBAs from some of the top business schools in the U.S. – Wharton, Stanford, U. Chicago, Columbia and Northwestern – reported that the highest base salary received by a 2010 graduate was $300,000 or more. These figures come from annual summaries of employment of the most recent graduating class. The Wharton MBA career report, which gets its data from student surveys, includes information on compensation, location of employment and the industries in which the graduates now work.

According to management professor Mathew Bidwell, it is both the characteristics of the individual and of the job itself that lead to large starting salaries. “These [private equity] firms tend to have reasonably few people managing very large sums of money,” said Bidwell, whose research focuses on employment. “As you get more senior, each person potentially has quite a substantial impact on the success or the failure of the fund.”

At Wharton, the $350,000 salary earned last year isn’t even a record. In 2009, the top-earning graduate landed a $420,000 base salary…wow. Now, I’m sure you’re thinking where do I sign up, but how important is a high paying salary to you? Are you thinking about changing career paths in order to rake in the dough?

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