UVA Darden Celebrates Record Number of New Graduates, Early Career Successes

By Dave Hendrick

The University of Virginia Darden School of Business celebrated hundreds of new graduates on 22 May, as the largest graduating Class in Darden history received diplomas in ceremonies moved indoors due to high temperatures.

The celebrations represented the first fully in-person graduation on Darden Grounds since 2019. The newest ranks of Darden alumni include 537 MBA graduates, 362 from the Full-Time MBA program and 147 from the Executive MBA program.

The Full-Time MBA class included the first-ever “Section J”— Darden students who began their careers in January 2021 due to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic. The graduating class also included 28 students earning dual degrees, led by eight Full-Time MBA students graduating with a Master of Science in data science from the UVA School of Data Science.

Dean Beardsley speaking at mic

Dean Scott Beardsley urged graduates to dream both big and small.

Welcoming graduates and their friends and family, Darden Dean Scott Beardsley noted the eventful two years experienced by the Class of 2022, who joined Darden in the still-early days of the coronavirus pandemic. While the two years brought loss, anxiety and sometimes “frustration at what might have been,” so too did they bring kindness, enduring relationships and “optimism from the depths of despair,” Beardsley said.

Further, Beardsley noted that Darden maintained in-person classes throughout the past two years, a testament to the “care and concern” practiced by the graduating class.

In his speech to the graduates, Beardsley encouraged the new alumni to get in touch with their “personal operating systems” and said the journey toward a meaningful life would be aided by five practices: being a critical thinker; being values-driven; being bold and dreaming both big and small; being aware of the “tyranny of social comparison” and developing a spirit of generosity and positive intent.

"As Montaigne recommends, have angular vision to look at things from different perspectives. Our common humanity is much greater than we think."
Dean Scott Beardsley

And, when the best-laid plans fail, Beardsley encouraged graduates to learn to accept life as it is, a spirit captured by the French expression “C’est la vie.”

“Darden graduates, each of you is special,” said Beardsley. “You matter. You belong in this world and are part of this world. I wish you great success in becoming the responsible leaders we at Darden have done our best to prepare you to be.”

Elected Executive MBA speaker Joe Stanley (EMBA ’22) spoke of the deep bonds formed by the Class of 2022, calling the power of the new relationships as important as the skills developed in the classroom.

“The diversity of experiences and perspectives within our class of working professionals, filtered through the case discussions of our academic work, was a sum greater than the parts and a testament to the value of executive education programs,” Stanley said. “You have all fundamentally changed my life, and I thank you for it.”

Stanley encouraged graduates to never yield in the face of despair, and to seek to not just do well, but to do good.

At a separate evening ceremony for the Full-Time Class of 2022, Alex Smith (MBA ’22) encouraged graduates to “run through” fear and discomfort rather than retreat. Embracing what frightens you frequently leads to greater fulfillment, Smith said.

“The next time you are faced with this dilemma, I hope you remember how bold you can be. You took a chance on yourself and wrote that Darden application, and look at you now,” Smith said. “We are all living those dreams that we had years ago, and we are on the precipice of achieving the dreams we carry with us now.”

Darden Delivers Again on Record Full-Time MBA Salaries and Job Offers By Graduation

As the Darden Career Center analyzes initial employment outcomes for degree programs, preliminary data indicates impressive results and year-over-year trends for graduating Full-Time MBA and Executive MBA students.

The Full-Time MBA Class of 2022 garnered a median base salary of $175,000, which represents a 21 percent increase from the Class of 2021 and a School record for the fourth consecutive year amid the burgeoning MBA job market. By graduation, 92 percent received a full-time job offer by graduation and 89 accepted a full-time job offer by graduation.

The top companies in which these most recent Full-Time MBA grads will work are, in order of most graduates, BCG, Bain, McKinsey, Microsoft, Dell, JPMorgan Chase, Deloitte, Amazon, Bank of America and Credit Suisse. Similarly, the most popular hiring industries were consulting, finance, technology, consumer packaged goods and health care.

Large Majority of Executive MBA Graduates Receive Promotions and Accept New Roles By Two-Year Program’s Conclusion

The most recent Executive MBA graduates saw similarly positive employment outcomes and hiring trends. On average, the students in the Class of 2022 reported a 20 percent increase in base salary over the course of the two-year program and notched an average base salary of $180,546 at graduation.

Of those reporting base salaries, 76 percent reported additional annual compensation. On average: 22 percent saw a guaranteed annual bonus of $47,134; 48 percent reported an expected bonus of $50,463; 22 percent received a signing bonus of $30,400.

Promotions and new positions were prevalent for the Executive MBAs. Over 80 percent were promoted or accepted a new job by the time they graduated. Forty-three percent accepted a new role at a new company and 40 received a promotion at their current company, while 3 percent pursued their own venture.

Students entered a diverse array of industries, as well: the Top five were technology, consulting, financial services, government or military, and health care.

Nearly all of the new alumni in Executive MBA Class of 2022 participated in the Career Center’s end-of-program career outcomes survey, of which analysis is ongoing.

The Career Center plans to release a comprehensive employment outcomes report for Executive MBA, Full-Time MBA and Master of Science in business analytics graduates later this fall.

View a photo album of some of the day’s events, as well as the Class of 2022 Kudoboard on the Darden Graduation webpage. Also, see UVA’s full coverage of Final Exercises 2022 including keynote remarks from Dr. Taison Bell (EMBA ’20)

Darden graduates gathered on the UVA Lawn as part of Final Exercises on 22 May.
Dr. Taison Bell (EMBA '20) gave a keynote address to graduates on the UVA Lawn as part of Final Exercises on 22 May.
Elected Darden faculty marshals Elena Loutskina and Yael Grushka-Cockayne on the UVA Lawn as part of Final Exercises on 22 May.
Darden graduates gathered on the UVA Lawn as part of Final Exercises on 22 May.
Darden Dean Scott Beardsley takes a group photo with students before progressing down the Lawn on 22 May.

View More Scenes From the Lawn in the Darden Flickr Gallery

2022 Darden Graduation - The Lawn

View Scenes From the Executive MBA Graduation in the Darden Flickr Gallery

2022 Darden Graduation - Professional Degree Programs - North Grounds Rec

View Scenes From the Full-Time MBA Graduation in the Darden Flickr Gallery

2022 Darden Graduation Full-Time MBA Aquatics Center

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.


Press Contact

Molly Mitchell
Associate Director of Content Marketing and Social Media
Darden School of Business
University of Virginia