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Bonuses separate the winners from the losers.

Here's how much top MBAs earn in banking, private equity, consulting and hedge funds

Where do Harvard MBAs make the most money? The business school's most recent data reveals that hedge funds pay more than private equity or investment banking. 

All the big career destinations - consulting, banking, hedge funds, and private equity – had the same median base salaries ($175k). It's in bonuses that their compensation differs significantly.

Consulting is the worst paid sector, with both signing bonuses and performance-based bonuses averaging $30k – with 96% of graduates seeing signing-on bonuses and 88% of graduates receiving some sort of performance-based bonus. Over a quarter of Harvard MBAs went into consulting.

Hedge funds paid the best. 59% of graduates received a higher signing on bonus ($50k), and a similar proportion, 83%, received a much bigger performance-based bonus ($167.5k). 8% of graduates went into “investment management and hedge funds”, as Harvard designated the category.

Nearly twice as many graduates went into private equity. Although only 41% of MBAs who went into the field received a signing bonus (the same as consultancy’s), 84% received a huge performance bonus – with a median of $175k, making private equity the second highest paid field among the four.

Investment banking had a poor showing comparatively (although higher than consultancy, obviously). The signing bonus – which 88% of graduates received – was as high as a hedge fund’s. But the performance bonus lagged significantly between private equity and hedge funds, at $125k (which 88% of graduates received). A sign of the poor salary (and work-life balance) could be the reason why only 3% of the university’s MBAs went into the field.

If you went to Harvard for your MBA, you’re making six figures. Although the median base salary has been higher than the mythical $100k figure for some time in most fields that graduates entered, even the government & non-profit sector now sees a six-figure salary.

It’s common knowledge that MBAs make bank – Wharton reported $150k as the median graduate salary, and Colombia Business School said $180k.

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Have a confidential story, tip, or comment you’d like to share? Contact: Zeno.Toulon@efinancialcareers.com in the first instance.

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AUTHORZeno Toulon

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