Show me the money! Here are the top MBA programs for sky-high salaries

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Considering applying for an MBA? As the Wall Street Journal originally reported, business school applicants expect to make an optimistic $133,000 upon graduation, a drastic increase from their pre-MBA salary of $45,000.

Data released today by NerdWallet, a tool that crunches financial data, reveals that applicants are overly optimistic. While grads of the top five schools, including Harvard and Stanford, typically earn over $130,000, average salaries frequently dip as low as $70,000.

The research company analyzed self-reported data from over 40 MBA programs to produce a list of top salary-earning programs and a useful side-by-side comparison between the leading schools.

Broad disparities crop up between the programs: Some help you land a dream job with a six-figure salary and a company car, while others may leave you in a position where you’re struggling to make your monthly loan repayments. Stanford’s Business School encourages its graduates to accept a job in the technology sector or start their own company, but in the majority of cases (52 percent), business school is a fast-track to a career in finance or management consulting.

Their findings indicate that:

  •  The highest and lowest average starting salaries across all schools ranges from $121,455 to $73,748.
  • A majority of MBA graduates enter finance or management consulting, which also receive the highest compensation.
  • Top finance graduates can expect to earn at least 30 percent more then the average MBA student, with some students earning over $200,000.

Here is the full list of top 20 business schools by total compensation.

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