Through the Eyes of B-School Alumni: Degree ROI & Career Journey

Mar 20, 2014
Tags: Alumni, Business School

Advice that you’ll find nearly everywhere on is that talking with business school alumni is an invaluable way to gain meaningful insights about the b-school experience. We've given you a head start this year by bringing alumni to you, nearly 21,000 strong, whom we surveyed last fall. These MBA and master’s degree alumni come from dozens of countries worldwide, attended 132 schools, both big and small—and represent graduating classes across nearly six decades, from 2013 all the way back to 1959.

Here are key insights they shared that can lend perspective and support your decision to embark upon a graduate business education.

Download FREE GMATPrepAlumni Affirm the Value of Their Graduate Management Education

Around the world, the vast majority of MBA and other graduate business degree holders rate the value of their degrees highly (94% of respondents), report high levels of job satisfaction (83%), and say their expectations for the financial return on their investment (ROI) in their graduate business degrees were met or exceeded (79%).

  • More than 4 in 5 alumni across all graduating years strongly agree that they make an impact at their company (86%), are engaged with their work (85%), and have challenging and interesting work (85%).
  • 95% of alumni would recommend their programs to others and 96% are proud to have attended their graduate business program.

A Graduate B-School Education Opens Many Career Doors

  • The vast majority of alumni (83%) from the classes of 1959 through 2013 report their graduate management degrees were essential for obtaining employment; and 80% attribute their career success to their degrees.
  • Across all class years surveyed, 79% of alumni currently work for an employer, 11% are self-employed, and 5% are retired. They work in a variety of industries, with finance and accounting and products and services (20% each) employing the greatest percentages of alumni surveyed.

Soft Skills Are Top On-the-Job Skills

Soft skills account for 3 of the top 5 skills alumni use most often in their daily jobs. These include interpersonal skills, conscientiousness, managing the decision-making process, knowledge of general business functions, and the combined skills of leadership, motivation, and learning. These findings corroborate results from previous surveys of corporate recruiters, who say these are the key skills they seek in new graduate b-school hires. Take time to discover how you can improve upon key qualities for success with the Reflect™ Self-Assessment and Development Tool.

Alumni Are Launching Entrepreneurial Careers Earlier

Although only 11% of business school alumni are self-employed today, the time frame in which they launched their businesses varied across the decades.

Survey findings show that 5% of alumni from class years 2010–2013 are self-employed, compared with 23% of those who graduated before 1990. Yet, nearly half (45%) of self-employed alumni from class years 2010–2013 launched their businesses directly after graduation, compared with only 7% of those who graduated before 1990.

Business School Entrepreneurs

The quicker pace to launching an entrepreneurial career right after graduating is a fairly recent phenomenon, perhaps a sign of growing student interest in innovative careers, but also of increased academic focus on entrepreneurship in business school programs and financial opportunities available to startup businesses. For those interested, make time to investigate the many free resources on entrepreneurship  available for you on

Seek Out Alumni Mentors

Alumni are a proven resource for helping you find your true path to educational and career opportunities. After all, 40% of surveyed alumni have mentored prospective or current business school students; what’s more, nearly a third (32%) have recruited management grads for employment.

So, seek them out and ask questions about their career journey. You can find many alumni stories here on

For a copy of the full Alumni Perspectives Survey report, click here.