The average salary from an MBA in South Africa vs a Doctorate, Master’s and Bachelor’s degree

One of the strongest selling points for a Master of Business Administration (MBA) qualification is the promise that it offers a significantly higher salary potential for graduates.

The most recent findings from the Financial Times (FT), in its Global MBA Index, gives credence to this, highlighting that MBA’s from the top business schools in the world can double, if not triple earning potential.

However, the publications notes that this comes amid declining MBA enrolments in some areas, with prospective students becoming more discerning about where they seek this master-level skillset.

According to the FT, salaries among the listed MBA graduates range from $91,611 (R1.39 million) a year to $222,625 (R3.37 million), with increases ranging between 58% and 216%.

The smallest increase recorded by the FT was 58% (McGill University: Desautels, Canada), where the average post-MBA salary is still in six figures ($104,581 – or R1.58 million p.a.) – but salaries can almost triple in places like China and India.

The top-ranked university, Harvard University’s Business School, has the highest average post-MBA salary ($210,110 – or R3.18 million), which is 110% higher than before the course.

South African MBA

While South African universities are not ranked among the best in the world on the FT’s list, salary data from PayScale does provide insight into – and corroborate – the findings.

According to PayScale’s data, the average salary of MBA holders in the country sits at R736,000, with salaries ranging from R200,000 for professionals working in HR, to chief executive’s earning up to R3 million.

This is more than double the average salary for those who hold a bachelor’s degree (which varies depending on type), and triple the average salaries seen by those who hold a diploma.

As is expected – aligning with the various levels of specialisation – those who hold a doctorate command the second highest average, followed by masters, bachelors, diplomas and typical graduates.

The only qualification category that grosses higher than an MBA in PayScale’s database is a Medical Doctor (MD), which averages close to R1 million – but this from a lower pool of submissions.

Because PayScale’s data relies on user submissions, the accuracy is dependent on scale. The measurements below are based on the input of thousands of user profiles tracked in each category totalling over 17,000 submissions from South Africa. Over 1,500 profiles that list an MBA were included as at 12 February 2020.

At the end of 2019, the Financial Times ranked the best executive MBA’s in the world, with two South African universities making the cut.

The UCT Graduate School of Business (GSB) is ranked 47th in the world, and the best in Africa, with the average executive salary, post-qualification, estimated at $279,000 (R4.2 million) per year.

The Gordon Institute of Business Science at the University of Pretoria ranked 82nd overall, with the average salary estimated at $226,000 (R3.4 million).

Qualification Type Average
Doctorate R982 000
MBA R736 000
Doctorate R606 000
Master’s Degree R425 000
Post Graduate Diploma R387 000
Bachelor’s Degree R297 000
Post Graduate Certificate R282 000
Higher National Diploma R235 000
Graduate Diploma R234 000
Certificate R221 000
Diploma R220 000

Read: These are the top business schools in the world – where an MBA could double your salary

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The average salary from an MBA in South Africa vs a Doctorate, Master’s and Bachelor’s degree