While a Bachelor of Business Administration (BBA) can open the door to a variety of careers in industries such as finance, health care, marketing and many others, research shows that graduates of MBA programs are often offered much higher paying positions across the board, and positions with greater responsibility. In the financial sector, for example, an MBA can mean the difference between being hired as a management analyst (also management consultant) or as an associate.
Management analysts earned a mean annual wage of $93,440 in 2017, with a high salary range of $110,600 to $152,210, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS). On the other hand, finance associates average around $60,000 annually, according to PayScale.
In a recent U.S. News & World Report article, Stephen Rakas, Executive Director of the Career Opportunities Center at Tepper School of Business at Carnegie Mellon University said, “that's because an MBA trains students to become executive-level leaders that utilize analytical and critical thinking skills.” These are highly coveted skills in today’s competitive business world.
Simply put, while a BBA can lead to a variety of careers, many graduates will end up returning to school after years of working in the same positon, just to get ahead. According to U.S. News, one MBA graduate, Ajay Anand, who earned a BBA from the University of Michigan—Ann Arbor and an MBA six years later from the Wharton School of Business at University of Pennsylvania, said he “went back to school ... simply because there is a step-change in the respect the market gives you after your MBA.”
“The positions you are eligible for and the pay are markedly different, even if the curriculum will not add significant value,” he said. “The MBA brought a higher level of discussion in the classroom and credibility when it came to searching for investors for a startup venture.”
“The perception associated with the Wharton MBA has opened doors with top investors, advisors and partners that I don't believe would have otherwise opened. Part of it is the Wharton brand, but investors particularly respect the MBA more than I expected,” says Anand.
So, what does all of this translate to in dollars and cents for today’s graduating MBAs? According to U.S. News, MBA graduates can expect as much as a “20 percent increase, $10,000 to $15,000, in entry salary over an undergraduate degree in business in terms of immediate-year compensation offer rates.” Some survey data report an even higher jump in pay for MBAs. A 2018 report by the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) says that there's more than a 38 percent difference between the projected entry-level salary for someone with a BBA ($56,720) and the entry-level starting salary for an MBA graduate ($78,332).
A 2015 Fortune report even showed that the expected median salary for MBA graduates in the U.S. was $100,000 at the time. Just a few years later, a U.S. News & World Report article revealed that the overall average salary and bonus paid to 2017 MBA graduates was $105,146. Those graduating from elite business schools averaged a whopping $161,566.
For many MBA graduates, earning the degree is also about expanding their network. While some BBA programs provide great networks as well, “growing networking opportunities through a well-respected MBA program can prove invaluable in future career prospects.” According to one graduate from an elite business school, "I would say more than earning potential, having an MBA greatly expands opportunities largely due to the network that you have gained as a result. Oftentimes, more opportunities mean higher earning potential in the future."
Considering an MBA? Use our interactive map to find information on schools and colleges offering MBA programs in your state and across the U.S.
Kowarski, Ilana. "Find MBA Programs That Lead to Jobs, High Salaries." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 20 Mar. 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.
“Management Analysts." Division of Occupational Employment Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 13 Apr. 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.
National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE), 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.
PayScale. PayScale, Inc., 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.
Powell, Farran. "MBAs Offer More Advantages Than Undergrad Business Majors." U.S. News & World Report Education. U.S. News & World Report L.P., 31 Mar. 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.
“13-1111 – Management Analysts." Division of Occupational Employment Statistics. U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics, 30 Mar. 2018. Web. 31 July 2018.
Zillman, Claire. "Congrats, MBA grads! You're getting a $45,000 raise." Fortune. Time Inc., 19 May 2015. Web. 31 July 2018.