Survey: MBA Students Are Bullish about Employment Prospects

Friday, June 4th, 2021

As the pandemic wanes in the United States, optimism among MBA students is back, according to the 13th annual Training The Street (TTS) MBA Employment Survey, which polled students at the top business schools across the country.

Over three-quarters (77%) of current MBA enrollees say they feel "very" or "somewhat" optimistic about their employment opportunities. That's in stark contrast to 2020's TTS MBA Survey, when only 43% of students felt "very" or "somewhat" optimistic about their job prospects, and 57% of respondents reported feeling "very" or "somewhat" pessimistic.

Additionally, more than half (55.8%) of MBA students reported feeling either "somewhat" or "very" satisfied with their recent job offers, whereas only 8.8% of respondents felt "somewhat" or "very" dissatisfied this year.

Surprisingly, 26% of respondents noted that they have not received a job offer yet, which may indicate that the job market remains competitive as graduates from 2020 and 2021 compete for employment offers.

"The surge in optimism among MBA students reflects the improvement in the overall economy as businesses reopen and return to growth mode, as well as the recent strong performance of the M&A and IPO markets," said Scott Rostan, CEO of TTS. At the same time, Mr. Rostan noted, "2021 graduates need to contend with candidates who had a much more difficult employment environment last year and are still searching for positions."

The survey also found that despite what some have called an "exodus" from big cities, an overwhelming majority (83.6%) stated their preference for working in a major city.  But, just 18.1% of those surveyed said they prefer to work "fully in-person", compared with 54.8% who would like to be in-person three to four days a week. Nearly a quarter (23.5%)  said one to two days of in-person work is ideal.

52.4% of respondents with an internship or full-time offer expect to make an annualized salary of over $125,000, and 73.9% of MBA students expect to make at least $100,000 this year.

"The very strong starting salaries and preference for a hybrid working model are another sign of the confidence that this year's MBAs are feeling," Mr. Rostan stated.

In response to the question of where they see themselves working in five years, 24.6% of students said "corporate / industry position (corp. dev, finance, strategy, etc)," 18.1% said "private equity/venture capital/hedge fund", and 14.2% of respondents said "tech (established company, e.g. Facebook, Google, Amazon)." The percentage of MBA students interested in pursuing a career in tech has increased each year from 12.5% in 2020 and 8.9% in 2019.

The biggest factors in selecting a position were career growth opportunities and salary. Nearly half (47%) of respondents ranked career growth opportunities among their top two priorities and just over 45% of students ranked salary among their two most important factors in employment considerations.