UVA Darden Full-Time MBA Class of 2021 Reports Historic Highs in Salaries and Bonuses, Percent Employed by Graduation

27 September 2021

By Mary Shea Watson

The Full-Time MBA Class of 2021 has much good news to share, with the Class setting records in a variety of key career metrics, according to new data from the University of Virginia Darden School of Business Career Center. Assistant Dean of the Career Center Jeff McNish said the numbers are a reflection of  students’ readiness to excel in any industry — even in times of great uncertainty.

“These terrific employment outcomes for Darden’s most recent Full-Time MBA graduates demonstrate the hard work our students do to secure great job opportunities,” McNish said. “Despite the challenges of the past 18 months, students, faculty, alumni and staff came together to ensure the same excellent employment opportunities that Darden students earn year after year.”

Here are the new employment records and notable career highlights earned by the Full-Time MBA Class of 2021.

Record Starting Salaries for the Third Consecutive Year, and Highest-Ever Signing Bonuses

With an average base salary of $144,933, the graduating class secured the highest base salaries in School history for the third consecutive year. Average base salaries have risen by over $22,000 in the past five years.

Bonuses reported by graduates also reached record highs. Eighty-eight percent of the Class of 2021 reported an average signing bonus of $35,488 — up from the $33,266 average bonus earned by the Class of 2020.

The Highest Percent of Students Employed at Graduation

Ninety-one percent of the class reported accepting a full-time job offer by graduation — another School record and 7 percentage points higher than figures earned by the Class of 2020 and nearly 11 percentage points higher than 2016’s job acceptances reported by graduation.

By 90 days after graduation, 97 percent of the Class of 2021 had received a full-time offer and 95 percent had accepted a full-time job offer.

More Students Than Ever Enter Roles in Private Equity, Venture Capital and Health Care

This year, more than three times as many students began their post-MBA careers in private equity and venture capital than in the last five years, on average. This increase came as the School launched the Darden Venture Capital Initiative, which provides an unparalleled suite of curricular, co-curricular and professional development opportunities for students pursuing pathways into private market investing.

Against the backdrop of the historic public health challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the health care industry also saw increased interest from Darden graduates. In 2021, twice as many students entered health care roles than the average of the last five years. Health care hiring companies included Bayer, Cigna, Johnson & Johnson and Pfizer, among others.

International Students Also See Employment Gains Over 6-Year Average

For international students in the Class of 2021, 93 percent had received an offer by 90 days after graduation. On average, approximately 90 percent of international students in the last six graduating Darden classes reported receiving an offer by 90 days post-graduation.

These positive hiring trends for the School’s international students align with the mission of Darden’s STEM designated management science specialization, which provides students with in-demand quantitative and analytical skills and may bolster students’ chances of receiving an H-1B work visa.

Top Industries and Top Global Employers Hire Darden’s Most Recent Graduates

Darden’s most recent alumni will begin their post-MBA careers at 141 of the world’s top companies across a diverse array of industries.

The top five hiring industries included consulting (32 percent), financial services (26 percent), technology (19 percent), health care (6 percent) and consumer packaged goods (5 percent).

The top 15 employers were:

  • McKinsey
  • Boston Consulting Group
  • Microsoft
  • Amazon
  • Bain
  • Danaher
  • Accenture
  • JPMorgan Chase
  • EY-Parthenon
  • Deloitte
  • Hershey
  • Barclays
  • DaVita
  • Goldman Sachs
  • Google

Seventy-three different cities across six countries and 28 U.S. states will now be called home by the Class of 2021. By U.S. region, graduates began their post-MBA roles in the Northeast (29 percent), Mid-Atlantic (21 percent), West (18 percent), Midwest (11 percent), South (11 percent) and Southwest (8 percent).

The Career Center will release its comprehensive Full-Time MBA Class of 2021 Employment Report and Class of 2022 Internships Report in the next few weeks.

About the University of Virginia Darden School of Business

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business prepares responsible global leaders through unparalleled transformational learning experiences. Darden’s graduate degree programs (MBA, MSBA and Ph.D.) and Executive Education & Lifelong Learning programs offered by the Darden School Foundation set the stage for a lifetime of career advancement and impact. Darden’s top-ranked faculty, renowned for teaching excellence, inspires and shapes modern business leadership worldwide through research, thought leadership and business publishing. Darden has Grounds in Charlottesville, Virginia, and the Washington, D.C., area and a global community that includes 18,000 alumni in 90 countries. Darden was established in 1955 at the University of Virginia, a top public university founded by Thomas Jefferson in 1819 in Charlottesville, Virginia.


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Molly Mitchell
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Darden School of Business
University of Virginia