P&Q Ranking: First-Year Pay For Business Undergrads From These 3 Schools Topped $100K

Over the past year, average salaries across sectors rose in response to talent competition, inflation, and a tight labor market that persisted through 2022. How much they rose depended on industry, position, geography and a host of other factors.

The question for Poets&Quants For Undergrads readers: How would the trend impact salaries for business school graduates?

In two words: A lot.

With data from our 2023 ranking of the Best Undergraduate Business Schools, released this week, we can see in real, concrete numbers just how much salaries rose for business graduates at the best programs in the country. At the 10 schools with the highest reported average starting salaries for 2022 graduates, salaries rose 14.33% compared to 2021. Salaries rose 10.75% over all programs that participated in the ranking and for which we had sufficient data.


Despite reports of a softening economy, multiple sources have predicted encouraging outcomes for college graduates and other workers. The salary data from our ranking outpaces nearly all these predictions.

Early last year, the National Association of Colleges and Employers projected that starting salaries for 2022 business major graduates would climb 3.1% over 2021 to an average base of $60,695.  According to our ranking data, the average base salary for all undergraduate business programs was $68,438, an increase of 10.75% over 2021.

And though not an apples to apples comparison, in January we reported that average year-over-year base salary increased $12,880 (or 9.5%) at 17 of the top MBA programs in the U.S. At the top 17 undergraduate programs, average starting salaries increased 12.49%


A major consideration on the ranking is career outcomes of the latest graduating class which accounts for 33.3% of a schools overall score. Career outcomes are measured with three metrics: The percentage of the latest graduating class (the Class of 2021) to gain jobs within 90 days of graduating (weighted 50%); the average salary and bonus for the latest graduating class, adjusted by the percentage of graduates awarded a bonus (weighted 30%) and finally, the percentage of the Class of 2021 that had internships before their senior year (weighted at 20%.) See the full explanation of the ranking methodology here.

Top salaries right after graduation is probably the most compelling argument in favor of a business degree, but not all schools are created equal.

The school with the highest salary of them all is no surprise: Graduates of University of Pennsylvania’s The Wharton School had an average starting salary of $100,655 – the first school to break the six-digit barrier. That is an astounding 17.94% increase from 2021’s average of $85,345. Wharton has topped the highest salaries list for the last several years.

Georgetown University’s McDonough School of Business was not too far behind. Its Class of 2022 graduates reported the highest salary in the history of its undergraduate business program at $96,916 – up 14% from the prior year. That’s after an already strong 9.23% salary increase in 2021 over its 2020 starting average of $78,016.

Rounding out the top five for highest salaries are Carnegie Mellon University Tepper School of Business at $93,019 (a 17.17% increase over 2021), New York University Stern School of Business at $91,572 (12.13%), and Cornell University’s Dyson School of Applied Economics and Management at $88,897 (15.97%).

Salaries at the lower end of the spectrum look more like salaries typical of a new college graduate.

Hult International Business School graduates saw starting salaries that were 21% lower than 2021, falling from $51,300 to $40,500 this year. Sacred Heart University also saw its salaries fall sharply from a year ago, dropping 21% to $52,949.

Only four other business programs saw average salaries drop in 2022: Texas Christian University (Neeley) fell less than 1% to $72,985, Hofstra University (Zarb) fell 5.53% to $61,416, University of the Pacific (Eberhardt) fell 1% to $62,655, and American University (Kogod) dropped 9% to $62,157.


With average starting salaries, starting bonuses and percent of students receiving a bonus we estimate overall adjusted compensation. To calculate this metric, we multiplied the average signing bonus with the percentage of graduates receiving a signing bonus, then we added back the average starting salary.

Wharton again comes out on top. Its 2022 graduates had an adjusted compensation of $111,902. That’s $17,000 more than 2021 graduates who brought home an average of $94,894 in their first year on the job.

Two other schools joined Wharton in the $100K club: Georgetown (McDonough) grads brought home an average adjusted compensation of $103,85 while Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) grads brought home $102,386.

Graduates of all schools in the top 10 in this metric had average first-year earnings of $97,564, nearly $25,000 more than last year’s average of $73,000.

NEXT PAGE: Salary, signing bonus, and total adjusted compensation for all ranked undergraduate business programs

PAGE 3: Schools with the highest employment and internship rates

PAGE 4: Employment and internship data for all ranked undergraduate business programs

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