Which MBA Degree Concentration Has Biggest Payoff?

The infographic below highlights four common MBA degree concentrations (finance, marketing, technology management, and human resources), and compares their job satisfaction, starting pay, mid-career pay, and lifetime earnings, as well as job stress. Each of these career results is important to consider when looking at MBA degree programs.


Many individuals pursue an MBA degree in order to increase their current salary and their income over the course of their career. An MBA degree in finance is often popular due to the highest estimated payoff. New graduates with less than 5 years of work experience will find only a difference of $17,000 between these four degree concentrations, with a starting median salary of about $45,700 for human resources and $62,100 for finance. But the payoff is quite large over time, with a difference of $1.1 million in lifetime earnings between the two. Here’s the breakdown for each concentration:

  • An MBA degree in finance is estimated to provide lifetime earnings of $3,210,000
  • An MBA degree in marketing is estimated to provide lifetime earnings of $3,060,000
  • An MBA degree in technology management is estimated to provide lifetime earnings of $2,680,000
  • An MBA degree in human resources is estimated to provide lifetime earnings of $2,060,000

Job Satisfaction

But success is not only measured by salary. Happiness is often difficult to measure, but also should be considered. Technology management graduates seemed to squeak ahead with 76% reporting the highest levels of job satisfaction, and 42% of reporting the lowest levels of stress on the job.

At George Mason’s School of Business, the Mason MBA provides students with the opportunity to take fifteen elective course credits after completing their core curriculum. There are many areas of emphasis to choose from, including accounting, entrepreneurship, financial management, information systems management, international business, leadership, marketing, project management, and real estate. Learn more about the Mason MBA degree.

MBA Degree Paths and Their Payoff




Trackback from your site.

Paige Wolf

As director of graduate programs at George Mason's School of Business, my vision is to have a vibrant, collegial community of active learners who develop enduring professional relationships with faculty, staff, and fellow students while pursuing their degrees. Prior to this position, I spent 11 years with the School of Business as an associate professor of management teaching both MBA and undergraduate courses in organizational behavior and human resource management. I have more than 16 years of experience as an internal and external consultant on strategic human resource initiatives including team building, organizational development, competency modelling, performance management, employee selection systems, career planning, employee training and development, leadership assessment, and human resource audits.

Leave a comment