Top 10 Graduate Finance Schools by Highest Average Starting Salary

GetAttachmentTo some degree, most MBA (master of business administration) programs and other graduate finance degree programs teach very similar classes in basic financial management skills such as finance, marketing, operation and accounting.

What differentiates finance programs at the best business schools from the rest of the pack are their respective degrees of access to other students, alumni, faculty, and business and community leaders who can be extremely useful in developing a career path and building business relationships. A top-rated finance program can be viewed as a brand. The strength of that brand is the program’s ability to connect you with capital, business partners, vendors, and clients. Here’s a look at some of the top graduate finance programs and they have been arranged by the average gross salary of graduates from highest to lowest.

Each of these schools have many distinctive qualities and utilize unique strategies towards learning. The Average Salaries of Alumni from all of these schools all top over a hundred thousand dollars annually.

10-New York University (Stern):

2NYU Stern

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One of New York University’s Stern School of Business’s biggest attractions is its location just a few miles north of the Big Apple’s Wall Street where the vast majority of the school’s graduates go to work after they graduate. The program is a particular favorite with executives who already have graduate degrees but who want to improve their business credentials. Admission into the program is highly selective, and only 20 percent of applicants succeed in getting in.

The Stern School offers business specialties that you won’t find anywhere else such as a curriculum in luxury marketing. Indeed, the Stern School offers one of the largest assortments of business electives of any of the top tier of American business schools. A significant portion of its classes are offered in the evening hours, which makes working while attending school an option.

9-Duke University:

Duke University

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Duke University’s Fuqua School of Business recently opened the Center for Entrepreneurship and Innovation to advance academic learning in this underexplored area of business. The Center for Entrepreneurship joins Fuqua’s Center of Leadership & Ethics, Center for the Advancement of Social Entrepreneurship and Center for Energy, Development and the Global Environment as a focus for academic and research-based explorations of the business process.

Fuqua is ranked by magazines such as “Forbes” and “The Financial Times” as a solid choice, particularly for students who are interested in teaching business once they obtain their graduate degrees. Fuqua is also known for its rigorous honor code and a cheating scandal in 2008, which resulted in the expulsion of nearly 10 percent of the 2008 class.

8-Columbia University in the City of New York:

Columbia Univerisyt Virtual Campus

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Over the years, Columbia Business School has had more Nobel Prize winners in Economics on staff than any other business school in the United States. Nearly 40 percent of the school’s 650 executive MBA students were born and raised outside the U.S., and the school maintains close ties with 25 graduate management institutes around the world.

The school offers a range of programs including programs with an emphasis on traditional financial topics such as accounting, private equity, marketing and real estate as well as programs with a more topical emphasis such as decision and risk, health care and pharmaceutical management, international business and social enterprise. Its most famous specialization, however, may be its Value Investing Program. Alumni of Columbia University’s Value Investing Program include Mario Gabelli and Warren Buffet.

The school’s most problematic aspect is its outmoded facilities, which critics say are in desperate need of an upgrade. Columbia University is expanding its campus into West Harlem, however, and a good portion of this new land has been allocated to the needs of the business school. These new facilities are not scheduled to open before 2030, however.

7-Dartmouth College:


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Dartmouth’s Tuck School of Business focuses on only a single degree: a two-year master of business administration degree. In their first year, students adhere closely to a 32- week core curriculum, but in their second year, students are encouraged to design their own customized fields of study. The program actively seeks to diversify its 500 member student body by promoting an annual Tuck Diversity Conference and by supporting the Forté Foundation, which serves women in business.

If alumni donations can be used as a measurement of student loyalty, Tuck has the most loyal group of former students in the United States. The school consistently claims the highest percentage of alumni donations of any business school in the world. The majority of Tuck graduates go into careers related to management consulting, and Tuck counts many CEOs of Fortune 500 businesses among its alumni.

6-Northwestern University:


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The Kellogg School of Management at Northwestern University just outside Chicago is best known for pioneering programs that emphasize international collaboration as a value add-on. Kellogg MBA students have the opportunity to spend the fall or winter of their second year of study at an affiliated international business program, and the Kellogg School partners with international business programs in such places as China, France, Singapore, India, Hong Kong, Israel, Germany, Canada, and Thailand. Accordingly, attending Kellogg gives alumni access to possibly the largest global network of entrepreneurs, capitalists and other business innovators.

The Kellogg School’s full-time MBA degree is consistently ranked among the top in the nation by magazines such as “BusinessWeek” and “U.S. News and World Report,” and its part-time evenings and weekend MBA program was recently ranked as the nation’s best by “BusinessWeek.”

5-University of California – Berkeley:


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The Haas School of Business at the University of California at Berkeley is known for its BILD (Berkeley Innovative Leader Development) curriculum, which attempts to reconcile traditional business management education with ethical decision-making strategies. The school is also an innovator in out-of-classroom learning opportunities such as its Haas@Work program, which sends teams of Bay Area students to work at large Bay Area firms. Like Stanford, the Haas School of Business benefits greatly from its proximity to the Silicon Valley high tech sector in which many of its graduates end up working.

In addition to its traditional two-year MBA program, the Haas School offers a three-year evening and weekend program. It also collaborates in a program with Columbia University that allows students to earn concurrent MBAs from the University of California at Berkeley and Columbia University.

Besides an MBA degree, the Haas School also offers a Master of Financial Engineering program with a specific emphasis on quantitative skills that apply mathematical methods to financial issues.

4-University of Chicago (Booth):


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The University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business offers a range of graduate programs in basic financial disciplines such as accounting, economics, finance, and marketing as well as in specialty areas such as health care administration, human resources management, international business, organizational behavior, public policy, and entrepreneurship. The school also offers concurrent degree programs in conjunction with the University of Chicago Law School, the Pritzker School of Medicine and the Harris School of Public Policy.

The Booth School is known for the flexibility of its programming. It offers full-time campus programs as well as part-time (evening and weekend) and executive MBA programs. The executive program is unique in that students may elect to spend the required residential portion of the program at any of the Booth School’s campuses in Chicago, London or Singapore.

3-University of Pennsylvania:


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Founded in 1881, the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School was the world’s first university-based business school. Though the institution itself declines to participate in ratings out of respect for the privacy of its students and alumni, the program is consistently ranked by magazines like “Business Week” and “The Financial Times” as among the best in the world.

Wharton is a large school, with close to 100,000 alumni worldwide. The business school offers 19 discrete areas of specialization including consulting, entrepreneurship, finance, health care and marketing. Wharton maintains two campuses, one in Philadelphia and one in San Francisco, and offers a full-time campus option as well as a weekend residential option for business executives.

2-Princeton University:


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Princeton University does not offer an MBA program as such, but does offer a master’s degree in finance through its interdisciplinary Bendheim Center for Finance, which emphasizes a quantitative, mathematical approach in modeling financial markets. Ben Bernanke, the current chairman of the Federal Reserve, helped found the Bendheim Center in 1998. The degree is a two-year program, but students with a strong professional financial background may be admitted into an accelerated one-year option. The program is designed to prepare students for careers in risk management, quantitative asset management, macroeconomic, financial forecasting, quantitative trading, and other forms of financial engineering.

1-Stanford University:


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Stanford University is situated in the heart of the Silicon Valley, which gives its students instant access to technology’s most innovative sector. Stanford’s admits approximately 390 students a year into its two-year program or approximately 6.5 percent of all applicants, making it the most selective business school in the world. Stanford’s MBA program depends more upon team projects, simulations and experiential learning than many other MBA programs do.
The magazines “Forbes” and “U.S. News & World Report” rank Stanford’s graduate business program as the top program in the world. Among its faculty are three winners of the Nobel Prize in Economic Sciences: William F. Sharpe (1990), Myron Scholes (1997) and A. Michael Spence (2001).