MBA salary expectations now slightly less delusional

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If you shell out upwards of $50k for a top MBA, you expect your earning potential to be greatly enhanced when you graduate. The good news is that, generally speaking, MBAs earn a lot more money when they qualify than before they embarked upon the course.

However, prospective MBAs still expect a lot more than they eventually end up earning. Research firm QS, which tracks jobs and salaries for MBAs, says that $70k is the average expected salary uplift for MBAs across the world this year. The reality, however, is an average of $45k.

Despite this, salary expectations have dampened slightly since 2013, when MBAs expected an average uplift of $74k. In Eastern Europe, expectations are particularly out of line with reality – candidates expected a pay rise of $74k, but actually received an average of $32k.

The biggest salary uplifts this year were in Asia-Pacific, with an average of $58k, followed by Western Europe ($53k), even if these were over $20k under expectations. However, the US still leads the way for MBA pay, with average salaries of $109.1k in 2014.

Why are pay targets declining? QS speculates that it could be down to a gravitation of MBAs away from finance and consulting and towards technology and marketing, where salary expectations are initially lower. In the US, it may also be down to the higher number of female applicants who are less likely to name an inflated figure.

Gravitating towards the financial sector doesn't necessarily mean a bigger pay packet. Of the latest crop of MBAs moving into investment banking from Columbia Business School, the salary range was $60-160k. Other compensation also came in at $20-135k, however. At London Business School, the class of 2013 taking a job in the financial sector received average salaries of $112.3k.

Here’s the full breakdown:


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