Is B-School Worth It? Ask the Class of 2016

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GMAC researchers surveyed the class of 2016, and received valuable feedback. 

Will earning a graduate business degree increase your earning potential? Will it give you opportunities for quicker career advancement, and will it prepare you for your chosen career? Is it okay that you’re not 100 percent sure of what direction you want to take your career after earning your degree?

To provide you with some perspective and insight on these questions, GMAC researchers last fall surveyed more than 1,000 graduates of the business school Class of 2016, and received valuable feedback about their business school experience, their job search, employment outcomes, compensation, and more. Here’s what they had to say.

Job Search and Employment

At the time of the survey—approximately 4 to 6 months following graduation—91 percent of the business school Class of 2016 report being employed, either for a company (86%) or working for themselves as entrepreneurs (5%). Most members of the Class of 2016 began their job search before they graduated from their program (70%). Overall, 14 percent started a job search before their program began, 33 percent started during the first half of their program, and 46 percent started during the second half of their program.

Percentage of Class of 2016 Graduates Who Conducted a Job Search, by Program Type


Full- Time MBA

Professional MBA

Non-MBA Business Masters

Overall percentage




Before beginning my program




During the first half of my program




During the second half of my program




After completing my program




Source: GMAC Alumni Perspectives Survey, 2017

Class of 2016 graduates found full-time employment in a broad array of industries and job functions. In fact, more than 1 in 4 Class of 2016 graduates (28%) report currently working in an industry they had not previously considered before business school, highlighting how a graduate management education can expand graduates’ career horizons, and underscoring the notion that it’s okay not to have your career path fully mapped out before earning your degree.

The most common industries of employment are products/services (28%), technology (13%), consulting (13%), and finance/accounting (11%). The most common job functions are finance/accounting (24%), marketing/sales (23%), operations/logistics (17%), and consulting (13%).

Nearly 9 in 10 Class of 2016 graduates (88%) say their degree was important for obtaining their current job. A similar share of graduates say the knowledge (87%) and skills (89%) gained or developed through their program were important to getting their post-graduation job. Another sizeable share of graduates (62%) say the network they developed during their time in their program was important to landing their job.


In total, five percent of Class of 2016 respondents run their own businesses as entrepreneurs. Among them, 34 percent started their business before beginning their graduate business program, 43 percent started their business while enrolled, and 17 percent started immediately after earning their degree.

Many Class of 2016 entrepreneurs report that their universities provided access to a variety of resources to support their efforts to get their businesses off the ground. The majority report receiving guidance from faculty (66%) and other experts within the business school community (56%), as well as having access to specialists, such as programmers (53%). Additional entrepreneurs took specific courses beyond the regular curriculum (41%), made use of dedicated workspace for start-ups (31%), and received funding from their school (22%). About 1 in 5 Class of 2016 entrepreneurs sought venture capital for their business (18%). Among them, the majority were successful in securing venture capital funding (60%).

 When asked to evaluate the level of success of their young businesses, most say their business is ‘somewhat successful’ (53%), while a third say ‘very successful’ (33%), and 13 percent say ‘extremely successful’ (13%).


Among all responding Class of 2016 graduates, the median total annual compensation—including signing bonuses, moving allowance, stock options, etc.—is US$105,000. This varies by program type. Among full-time two-year MBA graduates, for example, the median total annual compensation is US$120,000, compared with US$60,000 for Master in Management graduates, who typically have less professional experience.

Most graduates (55%) report having negotiated their starting salary for their current job. Among those that negotiated, 69 percent report that their salary was increased as a result. About 4 in 5 Class of 2016 graduates (79%) agree that their graduate management education increased their earning power.

Looking ahead to this year’s graduating class, early indications signal that starting salaries may rise. The results of the 2016 Year-End Poll of Employers indicate that 58 percent of employers plan to increase starting base salaries for new MBA hires in 2017.


Overall, Class of 2016 graduates report very high levels of satisfaction with their graduate business education. Ninety-six percent rate the overall value of their degree ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’, and 91 percent say they would pursue their degree again if given the choice. Additionally, the majority agree that their education was rewarding personally (93%), professionally (91%), and financially (68%).

Class of 2016 graduates also agree that their education:

  • Prepared them for leadership positions (88% of graduates),
  • Developed their professional network (87%),
  • Prepared them for their chosen career (84%),
  • Offered opportunities for quicker career advancement (73%), and
  • Improved their job satisfaction (66%).

Now it’s your turn. Begin exploring b-school programs today using our Program Finder! More than 7,000 graduate business programs at nearly 2,300 universities and institutions around the world accept the GMAT exam. The School Search page lets you search at the school or program level, by location, degree type, program length, and format—ensuring you can find the best school and program that fits your goals!

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