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Top Salaries: Highest Earning Business Schools


Business students are becoming increasingly interested in entrepreneurship and universities are responding to this enthusiasm by strengthening their professional business development and entrepreneurship programs. Twenty new entrepreneurship programs for undergraduate business students have been created since 2006, according a study done by the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Yet there is much debate as to whether entrepreneurship is something that can be taught in a classroom or if it must be learned through hands-on, experiential learning.

In order to offer students the opportunity to learn entrepreneurial skills as well as diversify and broaden their learning, many universities are offering entrepreneurial internship programs for undergraduate students. This type of experiential learning is becoming instrumental to helping students learn the real ins and outs of business and can even serve as the launching pad for many students’ ventures. Business students will often complete multiple internships by the time they graduate (in addition to various co-ops and/or international education programs).

Consequentially, students are searching for internships sooner than ever before. The “Big Four” Accounting Firms (Deloitte, Ernst & Young, PwC and KPMG) all offer special summer internships for rising college sophomores. A recent study from the National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE) found students who have paid internship experience earn higher salaries upon graduation.

What’s more, some students even have the opportunity to join a school’s entrepreneurial incubator program. These programs help students meet potential future business partners and gain the intellectual resources to build business plans before graduating.

Through entrepreneurial programs and great career services that prepare business students for the working world, business programs across the country are setting their students up for success. To continue our graduate survey series this week, NerdScholar ranked the business schools with the highest salaries upon graduation based on colleges’ self-reported grad surveys. We also highlight specific entrepreneurship and experiential learning programs that give these business students the necessary skills and experience to stand out as they enter the job market.

1) The Wharton School of the University of Pennsylvania: $65,627

The U.S. News and World Report ranked Wharton as the best undergraduate business program for 2013. With an average of over $65,000/year, Wharton tops the list with the highest salaries for its business graduates. These students get a well-rounded education by taking 40% of their curriculum outside of the college of business.

They are also provided with ample opportunities for experiential learning. Approximately 23% of Wharton students study abroad and approved study abroad programs are available in 7 different languages. Wharton Leadership Ventures offers diverse and unique experiences such as whitewater rafting, an Iron Chef competition, and a Peruvian leadership trek to Machu Picchu. These trips help students develop leadership, team-building, and communication skills that are essential for the workplace.

Wharton is also is home to the Goergen Entrepreneurial Management Program, which allows undergraduate business students to gain a specialization in Entrepreneurship and Innovation. This year, 40 students who plan to spend the summer working in an entrepreneurial setting were awarded the Wharton Entrepreneurial Intern Fellowship. These students receive awards ranging from $500-$4,000 to financially support their internships. Next year, these students will serve as Ambassadors of Fellowship to help other students find and land internships—be it with their same employer or a new one.

2) Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business: $63,541

Located in Pittsburgh, PA, the Carnegie Mellon Tepper School of Business helps its students obtain the second highest salaries nationally for their graduates at $63,541. The Tepper Career and Professional Development Center offers a career exploration program called Wednesday Night Insight to give students weekly opportunities to learn about various careers and industries.

Tepper also has partnerships with many different study abroad providers in order to give their students opportunities to learn about the world of global business. For example, business students are approved to study with IES Abroad in Quito, Milan, and Auckland. At these centers, students take courses in the local language and culture as well as international business.

On campus, Tepper students can get involved with ten business-focused student organizations such as the Undergraduate Investment Club and the Financial Frontline Society. Undergraduate students also plan and implement the annual Business Opportunities Conference, which includes a job fair and a networking reception for graduating seniors.

3) New York University Stern School of Business: $62,189

Coming in third is NYU’s Stern School of Business, helping their students earn $62,189 annually. There are currently over 500 Stern alumni who are CEOs around the globe. What sets Stern apart from other similar B-Schools?

Stern has eleven research centers that focus on a wide range of topics, from real estate finance to business analytics to volatility. Additionally, the Berkley Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation hosts an annual Social Venture Competition that encourages students to use their entrepreneurial spirit to address global social problems. The competition offers $50,000 in prizes to the winning ventures.

Students are also encouraged to participate in Stern Around the World (SAW), a program for international study and travel. Students can participate in traditional study abroad programs through NYU’s extensive global network or take part in short-term immersion/volunteer programs through SAW Abu Dhabi, SAW India, and SAW Ghana.

4) Georgetown University McDonough School of Business: $60,513

The McDonough School of Business at Georgetown University, located in Washington D.C., is well known for producing students with a complex understanding of global politics and business. Their recent graduates have average starting salaries just over $60,000. Senior Associate Dean and Director of Undergraduate Programs, Norean R. Sharpe, believes it is essential that McDonough students get a well-rounded education. She explains that “With a liberal arts foundation that focuses on critical thinking and reasoning, plus our successful First Year Seminar and Entrepreneurship Fellows program, Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business prepares students for success in a variety of business-related fields.”

Georgetown has partnered up with Escuela Superior de Adiminstracion y Direccion de Empresas (ESADE) in Barcelona, one of the most prestigious business schools in the world, to offer a Global Entrepreneurship and Marketing program for McDonough students. Participants spend five weeks in Barcelona enrolled in classes taught by ESADE professors and taking field trips to local businesses. Similar programs exist at Oxford University and in Shanghai, China.

On the entrepreneurship front, Georgetown students can apply to the Entrepreneurship Fellows Program, which is a co-curricular program designed for students interested in entrepreneurship. Fellows earn a Certificate in Entrepreneurship and gain access to internship opportunities, such as the Startup Hoyas summer incubator.

5) Washington University in St. Louis Olin Business School: $60,083

The Olin Business School at WashU provides a combination of quality academics and real-world experience that help graduates earn approximately $60,000 a year. Over one third of Olin undergrads study abroad, whether for a semester or a summer. In 2014, Olin will be launching the Israel Summer Business Academy in partnership with the Interdisciplinary Center in Herzliya, Israel. This partnership will allow students to gain hands-on experience through non-profit consulting and visiting local companies while also taking courses.

For students who are more interested in domestic issues, Olin students have the opportunity to study and intern in Washington D.C. through the Semester in DC program. Students pay the same tuition while in D.C. and their WashU financial aid also applies. Programs such as these help students create a professional network they can leverage before they even graduate.

6) University of Michigan Ross School of Business: $59,431

Undergraduates from University of Michigan’s Ross Business School earn an average salary of $59,431 upon graduation. Unlike many other programs, Ross undergrads spend their first year in the College of Literature, Science and Arts and then apply to Ross (although a select number of students are admitted directly from high school).

Ross is well known for establishing CIBER, the Center for International Business Education and Research, a multi-disciplinary program to teach and learn about international business. CIBER receives its funding from the U.S. Department of Education and there are now 33 CIBER centers throughout the United States.

In addition to CIBER, Ross has several other global initiatives such as the C.K. Prahald India Initiative that provides opportunities for students to do fieldwork and for faculty members for complete research. It’s no wonder that Ross’s website boasts “Ross’s 45,000 alumni live and work in 88 countries worldwide. They are part of a broader global community of over 500,000 UM alumni”.

7) University of Notre Dame Mendoza College of Business: $56,770

For the fourth year in a row, Bloomberg BusinessWeek ranked the Mendoza College of Business at Notre Dame #1 for undergraduate business programs. It is not surprising that Mendoza graduates are top earners, making starting salaries over $56,000.

With a tagline of “Ask More of Business”, the Mendoza College of Business puts a high emphasis on ethics and the individual integrity of their students. One professor, Joe Holt, is providing opportunities for students to analyze and evaluate their ethics through discussions and personal reflection. By solidifying their own ethical principles in the classroom, students are more prepared to handle situations that arise in the workplace with integrity.

Mendoza students often choose to build up their personal skillsets outside of Indiana. Impressively, over half of Mendoza students spend at least one semester or summer studying overseas. At the University of Notre Dame Australia, students can take business courses including one that focuses on Business in Asia.

8) Lehigh University College of Business and Economics: $56,399

Graduates from the Lehigh University College of Business and Economics are bringing home an average of $56,399. Aside from the typical core curriculum for business students, Lehigh offers unique academic programs to help their students distinguish themselves in the workplace.

The Integrated Business and Engineering program allows students to gain both theoretical engineering knowledge and practical business skills. The Integrated Real Estate minor helps students interested in appraising get a jump-start for their careers. Over 80% of the necessary training to become a certified appraiser, which typically takes 300 hours, can be accomplished through the minor requirements.

The LehighSiliconValley program is an intensive experiential learning program that allows students to spend a week in the heart of entrepreneurship in California. Each day, the students are challenged and tested as they work on live cases presented by Silicon Valley CEOs.

9) Boston College Carroll School of Management: $55,666

Students from the Carroll School of Management at Boston College can expect to make a salary over $55,000 upon graduation. In order to achieve this type of success, students frequently begin developing their skillsets early in their college careers. As sophomores, Carroll students can participate in the Sophomore Accelerator, a program that helps students explore their career interests and master necessary skills such as resume writing, an elevator pitch, and networking.

Students can also participate in the Boston College Venture Competition. This allows entrepreneurial-minded students of any major to gain hands-on experience in a high-stakes competition; the winning team receives $20,000 cash. In preparation for the competition, experienced alumni mentor students as they work to create and pitch their business plans.

In order to be able to study abroad, Carroll students must have a 3.2 GPA. They are then able to participate in any BC study abroad programs, such as the business programs in Copenhagen or Vienna, or approved external programs such as CIEE’s program in Accra, Ghana focusing on International Business and Culture. Such experiences help students get robust preparation to accomplish their career goals.

10) College of William and Mary – Mason School of Business: $52,711

The final school in the top 10 is College of William and Mary’s Mason School of Business, which helps its students earn an average of $52,711 upon graduation. With the intention of creating an environment that fosters innovation, all Mason students customize their curriculums in what is known as their Individual Program of Study. For example, students interested in corporate social responsibility and sustainability can tailor their program to include courses such as the Green Supply Chain.

All Mason students are encouraged to study abroad, and not just in programs with a business focus. For instance, students can participate semester-long course that culminates in a ten-day trip to Cuba to learn about Cuban culture. Mason students can also advantage of the school’s partnership with the Social Entrepreneurship Corps, which provides short-term social impact immersion trips to Guatemala, Ecuador, Nicaragua and the Dominican Republic. Unique experiences like these help Mason students individualize their education with the goal of being able to stand out amongst the crowd when applying for jobs.

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Graduate Cartoon Image Courtesy of ShutterStock

**Data collected from individual colleges’ self reported data by Nerd Scholar**

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