Salary lift from doing an MBA may disappoint

Date Uploaded: 30/01/2017

Graduates of the Smurfit School of Business at UCD earn about 70 per cent more at work

Thinking of doing an MBA but worried that you will never earn back the cost of the degree? Well, new figures from the Financial Times show that graduates of Smurfit School at UCD (the only Irish school on the Top 100 global list), saw a 71 per cent uplift in their salaries upon completion of the course. This means for example, that a graduate earning €60,000 before starting the course, earned, on average, €102,600 having completed it. However, while it’s a salary increase most people would envy, the return lags considerably behind salary increases reported at other business schools. It is in fact the fifth-lowest in the survey, with University in Sydney, New South Wales Business School in Australia posting the lowest salary increase, of 61 per cent.

The greatest increase in post-MBA salary was recorded at Ipade Business School in Mexico, where applicants enjoyed an average salary increase of 180 per cent after graduation. Graduates of US universities, such as Rutgers in New Jersey, Michigan State University and University of Iowa, all reported salary increases of more than 120 per cent. The top ranking business school in the survey, Insead in France, has a 95 per cent salary increase, while Harvard in Boston, Massachusetts, boasts a 97 per cent increase and Cambridge a 107 per cent uplift.

The impact on your potential salary is an important consideration when deciding to pursue an MBA. After all, if your employer isn’t footing the bill, embarking on an MBA can be an expensive endeavour. Fees at UCD Smurfit School, for example, are € 34,500 for 2017/2018 and €32,000 for a full-time programme at Trinity College Dublin. It’s a hefty chunk but still substantially less than what an MBA student can expect to pay at Harvard ($63,675/€60,000) a year, programme lasts two years) or Oxford University Said (£52,000/€61,000).

Institution Average salary increase (%) post MBA Average salary
UCD Smurfit 71 $113,094
Ipade Business School, Mexico 180 $100,924
Harvard 97 $177,541
Insead 95 $167,305
University of Cambridge, Judge 107 $164,714
Stanford Graduate School, US 93 $193,534
London Business School 92 $155,183
Columbia Business School 103 $172,678
HEC Paris 99 $132,188
University of Oxford, Said 87 $140,552

Value for money

This means that when it comes to “value for money”, UCD Smurfit School is closer to the top of the class, placing in 16th. The metric is calculated using the salary earned by the alumni today, course length, fees and other costs, including the opportunity costs of not working for the duration of the course.

The top ranking “value for money” MBA is found at University of Cambridge, Judge, followed by the European School of Management and Technology in Berlin, and Edhec Business School in France.

The worst-value courses are all found in pricey North American colleges, including the MIT Sloan School of Management; Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania; and Rotman School of Management at the University of Toronto.

The survey also shows that some 88 per cent of the most recent graduating class at UCD found a job within three months of graduating, while 82 per cent of graduates found that the MBA fulfilled the goals they had for it. Moreover, some 98 per cent of graduates of UCD would recommend it.

The survey also points to buoyancy in salaries, with UCD MBA graduates earning $113,904 upon graduation, up by about $6,000 on 2016. Overall, business school alumni across the globe were paid an average of $142,000 in 2016, the survey shows. The previous year’s graduates earned an average of $135,000 after the same period. According to the Financial Times, the last increase of such a size occurred in 2006; salaries flattened after the financial crisis, sticking at about $127,000 between 2008 and 2013.


Journalist: Fiona Reddan

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