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Top Research Schools Produce Better Paid Graduates

By Dean Tom Gilligan

I’m often asked, “What is the strategic focus of the school?” The answer can be as complex or as simple as time allows, but it all begins with three core areas:

  1. Leadership in Business Education (teaching excellence)
  2. Addressing Societal Challenges (research and knowledge creation)
  3. Creating an Engaged and Purposeful Community (outcomes for students and alumni)

While I’ve always seen these as complementary initiatives, a new study confirms that this balanced approach to educational mission pays dividends for our students and alumni.

The study addresses the relevance of business school research as it correlates to the economic value that students accrue from their education. That is, the level of research activity at business schools directly relates to the salaries of their MBA graduates. At the optimal level, this could mean as much as a 21 percent increase in salary, or a gain of more than $24,000 a year.

The study examined 658 business schools worldwide to compare, over an eight-year period, the publication prowess of their faculties to the percentage increase in their respective graduates’ salaries from pre-MBA to three years post-graduation. After controlling for numerous factors—such as school reputation, size of faculty, tuition, operating budget, geographic location, alumni network and whether the school had a doctoral program—the authors found a strong positive correlation between the intensity of research at a school and the financial returns of its graduates.

The McCombs School fits that model of a research powerhouse. The University of Texas at Dallas School of Management for the past six years has been tracking publications in 24 leading business journals over a five-year window in its “The Top 100 Business School Research Rankings.” McCombs currently ranks no. 10 worldwide and has been in the top 10 for five out of six years. We rank no. 17 in Bloomberg Businessweek’s intellectual capital portion of its latest biennial MBA survey, and no. 22 in Financial Times’ faculty research section of its annual worldwide ranking.

Following the drift of this study, our MBA salaries are equally impressive. The median base starting salary of our 2010 MBA grads, at $95,000, places us 17th in salary in the Businessweek ranking, and that’s with 93 percent of the class having a job offer within three months of graduation, ranking us ninth on that metric.

Here at McCombs we’ve always seen value in the blend of professional and academic qualifications represented across our faculty population. When students recognize their favorite and most effective teachers, in that roster are found lecturers, with their professionally honed savvy, and tenure track faculty members with a focus on research.

Both perspectives are essential to a complete business education.



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