HIGH-RANKING SCHOOLS DOMINATE EARLY PAY BUT GIVE WAY AS TIME GOES ON
Looking for a fast start out of the gate? For early pay, employers pay a premium for business grads from the traditionally higher-ranked undergrad business programs. After Berkeley, you’ll find Penn (Wharton) grads collecting $72,200 to start. They are followed by unheralded Santa Clara University ($70,500), which combines the best of McDonough and Haas: a Jesuit program located right in the outskirts of Silicon Valley. At Notre Dame, where finance and accounting rank among the most popular undergrad majors, business majors pull down $67,700 early on. From there, the highest starting pay is found at east coast programs — Virginia ($65,100), Boston College ($64,600), Lehigh ($64,200), New York University ($64,000), Georgetown ($63,300), and Cornell ($63,100) — before UCLA grads clock in at $62,900.
The pay rankings change dramatically by mid-career, however. Santa Clara retains its #3 spot with grads earning $124,000 after 15 years of post-graduation work experience. From there, you’ll find some new blood, with Georgia Tech, Babson College, and SUNY-Albany grads crashing the rankings at $122,000 per year each. That’s higher than Wharton and Notre Dame business grads, who each make $121,000 (as do Loyola University of Maryland grads). Similarly, graduates from Wittenburg University ($120,000), Southern Methodist University ($120,000), University of Puget Sound ($116,000), Westmont College ($113,000), CalPoly-San Luis Obispo ($111,000) actually earned more per year by mid-career than graduates from high-powered programs like Virginia ($110,000), Villanova ($108,000), UCLA ($103,000), and Texas ($102,000).
Why is this? For one, larger schools naturally tend to represent a larger pool of submissions at PayScale. As a result, the numbers for smaller programs are more likely to be distorted with a few big earners. Even more, these numbers only include graduates with a business-related bachelor’s degree. That means larger schools like Wharton, Notre Dame, and Texas are apt to dilute their survey population in the bachelor’s only category by sending more students to graduate school just in sheer volume (PayScale does not report salaries for business majors who earn an advanced degree).