Every year the Graduate Management Admission Council, which owns the GMAT test, conducts a series of surveys which aim to answer this question. Amongst the topics of interest are the level of employment of business school alumni, their salary, in which industry they are hired, the return on investment and the overall value of the degree.

Even in tough economic periods such as the present when hiring opportunities are limited, MBA students and graduates remain strongly preferred by employers. The results from theAlumni Perspectives Survey show that 86%, or more than four out of five, of the class of 2011 had a job after graduation.

But how does the crisis affect their remuneration? It has long been known that business school graduates receive some of the highest salaries in the job market and the data from the last year reasserts this trend. For 82% of MBA graduates their salary justified or exceeded expectations. Those who took the full-time two-year programme reported an average starting annual salary of 85,000 USD. Part-time alumni were also generously remunerated with an average of 76,000 USD and full-time one-year MBA graduates received an average of 73,203 USD. The additional bonuses for the two-year and one-year MBAs were respectively 15,000 USD and 12,000 USD.

What about the graduates from previous years?

Another group polled in the survey were graduates from the last 12 years. Those who took the full-time MBA programme, are currently receiving an average salary of 95,000 USD, and additional average compensation of 18,123 USD. Part-time MBA graduates' average salary was 91,000 USD plus an average bonus of 15,000USD. The remarkable numbers demonstrate that the degree retains its value during times of crisis. Not surprisingly the highest paid were Executive MBA alumni who earn an average starting remuneration of 25,000 USD plus average additional bonuses of 28,445 USD.

Being active nowadaysin the job market does not give anyone definite results. However it does put you on equal footing with other participants and is the necessary prerequisite for success. Perhaps this is why the majority of the class of 2011 began looking for employment while still in school. In the 1-year MBA programme 68% of students began sending c.v.'s or using alternative ways to join the workforce, while 78% in the 2-year programme were doing the same thing. 54%, of more than half, of the students looking for professional development or recent graduates received at least one job offer. The most popular industries for jobseekers were Products/Services, followed by Finance/Accounting and Consulting.

Going entrepreneurial

If we are to look for entrepreneurs in the graduate schools, the most logical area to start from is business education. Just as in other places, it is a minority of people who want to become their own bosses. The analysis shows that students from Executive MBA programmes are the most willing to start their own firm - 15,5% report this as their goal. 5,2% of the people in 1-year MBA programmes and 3,9% of students in 2-year MBA programmes and part-time MBA also want to start their own business. Geographically, entrepreneurship is distributed in the following order: 8%, of Europeans are the most willing to take the big step and the second biggest group are Canadians, 7,3%, citizens of Asia and Pacific countries are third followed by the Americans.

The respondents say that the most important motivation for starting their initiative is to follow their passion and do what they enjoy - something that also has to do with personal satisfaction and self-realsation. The possibility of being the main decision-maker, to manage all aspects of business and to have a personalized schedule are other leading factors cited by the participants.