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MBA Holders Have Bigger Paychecks, Especially White Dudes

Last October, we published an article written by a former KPMG senior associate, which you guys seemed to like, on why accountants should have both a CPA and an MBA. But what the article really doesn’t talk about is the earning potential of having an MBA. Well, a new study from the Forté Foundation sheds a little light on pay for MBA holders, and if you’re a woman or a minority, you probably know this already: Your paycheck won’t be as big as a white dude’s.

The good news, I guess, for white women and minority guys and gals (defined in the report as black or African-American, Hispanic or Latin American, or Native American) is that all MBA holders, regardless of race or gender, tend to see a 63% or more bump in their salaries after earning their degree.

But according to the study, the current gender pay gap for those with an MBA was 28%, adjusted for years of experience, with men making $58,994 more on average in annual compensation than women ($211,800 vs. $152,806).

On average, women earned 3% less than men pre-MBA ($69,478 for men vs. $67,395 for women), but the pay gap widens to 10% for first job post-MBA ($122,251 for men vs. $109,713 for women), then leaps to 28% for current compensation.

Unlike the gender pay gap, the racial pay gap actually decreases from pre-MBA salaries to current salaries, according to the study. Pre-MBA, non-minorities make 24% more than minorities on average ($71,294 vs. $57,640), but the pay gap drops to 16% for first job post-MBA ($117,834 for non-minorities vs. $101,505 for minorities). In their current position, non-minorities make on average $182,192 while minorities make $163,236, adjusted for years of experience—a pay gap of 12%.

Now, let’s look at a breakdown of MBA holders by non-minority men and women vs. minority men and women:


  • Non-minority men: $74,573
  • Minority men: $57,081
  • Non-minority women: $69,491
  • Minority women: $58,054


  • Non-minority men: $126,515
  • Minority men: $105,256
  • Non-minority women: $113,059
  • Minority women: $98,724

Current job

  • Non-minority men: $224,595
  • Minority men: $183,779
  • Non-minority women: $158,871
  • Minority women: $148,006

So to recap, white guys with an MBA earn more than everyone else, and minority men and women earn less than white men and women at every point from pre-MBA to their current position.

Anyone really surprised by this?