What Can You Make As an MBA?

Have you ever thought about getting an MBA?

Apparently, when the economy is down, people go back to school—and BusinessWeek says there will be a flood of applications to MBA programs. Its article, “As Interest in B-School Surges, The Outlook for Grads is Mixed,” also reports current business students are “more pessimistic about their five-year career prospects than their counterparts were last year.”

But looking at the numbers shows that pessimism should all be taken with a grain of salt. The article reports that the pace of salary increases for new MBAs is not as fast as past years—but the expected starting salary of a 2008 MBA appears to be over $85,000. Still healthy and robust.

As for the five-year outlook, the survey seems to have covered ten highly-regarded business schools. The students at half of the schools expected their incomes five years after graduation to be somewhat lower than their counterparts had said, a year earlier. But who knows if they’ll be right—and at these numbers, who cares?

In the 2007 survey, the students at these schools expected to be making $194,764 to $279,275, five years after graduation. In the 2008 survey, the students expected to be making $183,884 to $278,364, five years after graduation. The numbers aren’t all that different, and they are very, very high in the grand scheme of salaries in the U.S. by most any measure.

The survey covered only “top-tier” schools, though it’s not quite clear by whose or what rankings. It would be interesting to see if the numbers change with a broader range of schools. But in any event, an MBA would seem to hold the potential of increasing many people’s income.

Now in many cases, going to business school could mean incurring debt—and would in any event cost money. How might one assess that?

I recall that the blogger at the personal-finance website Free Money Finance has an MBA, so I thought I’d check and see what he’s written and what blog discussions he’s had about getting an MBA. Sure enough, there are plenty! Here are links to a few: The Value of an MBA (at Free Money Finance); Help a Reader: Is an MBA Worth It? (at Free Money Finance); and Help a Reader: Get an MBA? (at Free Money Finance).


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