In pay, placement, and other key ways, 2021 increasingly looks like a course correction for the top MBA programs. Two new employment reports and one preliminary report from a trio of top business schools in the United States only reinforce the view — widely held but only recently supported by the data — of 2020 as an anomaly, a one-off bad year that should be quickly forgotten.
We saw it in the preliminary numbers at Chicago Booth School of Business and Virginia Darden School of Business. We saw it in the final numbers at NYU Stern and Emory Goizueta. Now the business schools at three more U.S. universities — Rice, Georgia Tech, and Vanderbilt — have posted employment numbers for their MBA classes of 2021 showing salaries up, placement rates up, and other markers improving dramatically after the pandemic year.
At Rice’s Jones Graduate School of Business, the job offer rate three months post-graduation jumped by 7 percentage points over last year, and the acceptance rate by 3 percentage points; meanwhile Jones reported its highest recorded salary in school history. At Vanderbilt Owen Graduate School of Management, 97% received and 96% accepted jobs offers after 90 days, and 100% of MBA students looking for an internship found one. And at Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business, the placement rate eclipsed the school’s pre-pandemic levels and salaries continued their rise despite all the headwinds.
100% OF SCHELLER’S 2021 MBAs GOT JOBS OR OFFERS
Scheller, the highest-ranked of the three B-schools, saw 97% of the MBA Class of 2021 obtain employment within three months of graduation, better than even pre-pandemic figures. Perhaps more importantly, the school announced that every Scheller MBA graduate who was seeking employment is now employed or has an offer.
“Once again, Scheller MBA graduates achieved a remarkably high level of employment – but more importantly, in virtually every case our graduates joined one of their A-list, target companies,” says Dave Deiters, executive director of the Jones MBA Career Center. “Scheller is fortunate to enjoy continued recruiting relationships with so many premier companies. It’s a great formula: world-class MBA students and world-class employers coming together!”
Alongside favorable employment rates, Scheller has seen a rising number of MBAs land highly sought-after consulting and high-tech jobs; in 2021, those industries accounted for 58% of Scheller MBAs. Meanwhile, the average base pay for the Class of 2021 was $123,843, continuing a multi-year trend of consistent increases – over 20% in the past 5 years.
Abby Brenller, 2021 Scheller MBA grad and consultant at Bain & Company, says her success is a result of the resources offered at Scheller.
“Knowing that I had such a great team behind me was a huge encouragement, even in the dark days of losing my original internship due to Covid,” Brenller says. “The career services team, your classmates, alumni, and professors are so willing to jump in and help in any way they can. Knowing so many people had my back and had faith in me gave me faith in myself.”
TECH TAKES OVER AS TOP INTERNSHIP INDUSTRY FOR RICE STUDENTS
Rice Jones published a preliminary jobs report ahead of the fall publication of its Class of 2021 Full-Time MBA employment report, showing the school’s grads exceeding expectations, recording some of the highest numbers in the school’s history. That includes the highest offer rate — 97% had offers by three months post-graduation, up from 90% in 2020, and 92% had accepted offers, up from 89%. The school also recorded the highest average salary in school history: $131,384, from $123,786 in 2020, a 6.1% increase. Median base salary also grew, to $135,000 from $125,000.
Of the jobs accepted by Rice Jones MBAs, an incredible 78% came from the Rice Business community (up from 74% in 2020). International students were particularly successful at Rice, reporting the highest acceptance rate for that population in school history: 100% of job-seeking international students accepted employment within three months post-graduation, up from 88% in 2020.
Interns, too, did well this year: 100% of the full-time Rice MBA Class of 2022 secured internships for the third year in a row, even though the school increased the class to 180 students from 120. Where did they find work? The top summer industry for Rice MBA students was, for the first time, tech. Tech companies, including Amazon, also did a lot of the hiring of Rice grads.
BONUSES UP AT VANDERBILT OWEN
Meanwhile, at Vanderbilt Owen, MBAs from the full-time Class of 2021 reported average base salary earnings of $125,130 and an average signing bonus of $27,651, up 2.4% over the previous class’ average signing bonus. Consulting and healthcare both accounted for 22% of the class, with financial services third at 19%, followed by 16% in tech, 6% in consumer products, and 4% in manufacturing.
Even as pandemic-related challenges persisted, employment outcomes for Vanderbilt graduates remained strong: Within three months of graduation, 97% of the MBA Class of 2021 reported receiving a job offer, with 96% reporting they had accepted. A total of 77% of the offers came from school-related activities.
“Despite the challenges, Vanderbilt MBA students navigated the landscape with determination and grit and landed in amazing roles that will allow them to make a positive impact across a variety of industries,” says Emily Anderson, Senior Director of the Career Management Center.
And for the 10th year in a row, 100% of Owen School students were able to secure summer internships — and at better pay, with the students reporting an average of $8,106 per month at their internships, a 4.5% increase from the prior year.
“In this time of change and adaptation, our employer partners continue to value Vanderbilt MBA graduates for their leadership and collaboration. We continue to be grateful to our employer partners, as well as to our alumni that remain engaged with the MBA program and are willing to participate in career programming to share insight and guidance,” Anderson says.