MBAs Still Encounter a Pay Gap After Graduation, New Study Shows

Although an MBA has long been considered beneficial for post-graduate career development, a new survey shows that not all MBA graduates reap equal benefits from their degrees. The survey, which was conducted by the Forté Foundation and used data from 900 individuals who graduated with an MBA between 2005 and 2017, reveals a post-MBA pay gap of 16% between minorities and non-minorities. Before enrolling in their studies, non-minorities reported an average pay of $71,294, while minorities reported $57,640—a 24% gap. This gap was smaller post-graduation but still notable at 16%, as non-minorities reported a post-MBA average salary of $117,834, compared with the $101,505 reported by minorities.

At many top-ranked business schools, the percentage of minorities within each incoming class has hovered at approximately 30% for several years—at the Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania, for example, 33% of the Class of 2020 identify as a U.S. student of color. At the Stanford Graduate School of Business, Harvard Business School, and the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, the corresponding figure for the latest incoming class is 27%, 26%, and 31%, respectively. Outside of the highest ranking schools, minorities are slightly better represented; 57% of the MBA students from more than 400 programs that took part in a 2017 survey conducted by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business identified as white.

The latest survey by the Forté Foundation shows that work still needs to be done. “I’ve always said the MBA is the great equalizer of opportunity,” Elissa Sangster, CEO of the foundation, commented to the Wall Street Journal. “We now know that isn’t true.”

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