MBA graduates can expect salary increase

Students graduating with a Masters of Business Administration from the Opus College of Business could experience a 33 percent increase in their salaries, according to a New York Times survey of London graduates.

Linda Sloan, director of industry relations and career management, said St. Thomas MBA students should expect to see raises in their salaries after graduation.

“We try to work with our students to make sure we set those expectations realistically,” Sloan said.

Bill Woodson, assistant dean of St. Thomas MBA programs, said many factors contribute to the income raise.

“There is a three- to five-fold variation as to what their salaries might be,” he said. “That is driven by what industry they’re going into, how much work experience they had prior to enrolling in the MBA program.”

Woodson said he found data that support the New York Times study.

“According to [the] U.S. Census Bureau and, the difference in average U.S. salary for someone who is a bachelor’s degree holder versus an MBA holder is about 39 percent, so it does correspond with the experience of the British data,” Woodson said.

Students place high value on MBA

Some MBA students, including Marco Cavelletti, pause their careers and surrender job security to study full time.

“Leaving the workforce, I took that leap,” said Cavelletti, who left a six-figure salary and 11-year career to pursue an MBA.

Graduate student Paula Wirtz said, “People left their careers even in this economy [to pursue a degree].”

The New York Times survey also found that full-time graduates taking two-year courses earn about 33 percent more than part-time graduates. But full-time students aren’t able to work as much as part-time students, so they don’t earn as much money while they are in school, Wirtz said.

“Taking scholarships out, the debt load is much greater for a full-time student than a part-time student,” Wirtz said.

Full-time MBA student Andrea Furber is also working full time. She estimates that only about 5 percent of her fellow classmates have also accepted full-time jobs.

“It’s a lot to juggle, but at the same time it was a great opportunity,” Furber said. “I didn’t want to pass that up.”

Woodson said a 2009 survey conducted by the Career Services Offices identified people who were planning on actively searching for jobs in the next 18 months, and about 15 percent of students said they fit into this category.

Many part-time students take their newly acquired knowledge back to their jobs or work in a different area because of their credentials, Sloan said.

“Most employers are interested in employee development,” Sloan said. “It is seen as a win when one of their employees actually goes out on their own and attains additional education.”

Long-term benefits of an MBA

Wirtz said she sees long-term benefits to graduate education.

“With the down economy, our raises and success are going to pay off,” she said.

Woodson agreed.

“The smart students recognize that the return is going to be a lifetime return,” he said.

Woodson said an enjoyable and flexible career are two benefits of getting an MBA.

Furber said she already has experienced numerous benefits from her MBA.

“I think I applied for positions that looked for more qualifications than I would have if I didn’t have my masters,” Furber said. “I came in to getting my masters with three years of work experience, and now with my masters I make about $30,000 more than before.”

Kelsey Broadwell can be reached at

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