When it comes to MBA programs, at least, the numbers are reassuring. According to the Graduate Management Admission Council’s 2016 Alumni Perspectives Survey Report, business school alumni achieve a return on investment on average less than four years after earning a graduate degree.

The survey, which was conducted in October and November of 2015, is based on responses from 14,279 graduate business school alumni from class years 1980 to 2015.

ADVOCATING ACADEMIA: While grad school may seem like a daunting establishment of debt and coursework, the return on investment is realistic and within arm's reach.

Counting the numbers

Ninety-five percent of alumni, hailing from 275 graduate business programs at 70 universities in 20 locations worldwide, rated the degree at an outstanding or excellent value. The industry is certainly lucrative from a dollar perspective: business school alumni earn a median of $2.5 million in cumulative base salary over 20 years after graduation.

“Business school alumni earn a median of $2.5 million in cumulative base salary over 20 years after graduation.”

For recent MBA grads, outlook remains promising.

Of the 3,000 alumni surveyed from the 2015 graduating class, more than half received job offers prior to graduation, according to the 2015 Global Management Education Graduate Survey. And, numbers are up from past years, especially for graduates of certain specialized master’s degrees: 89 percent of 2015 Masters of Accounting graduates received early job offers, compared to 77 percent in 2014; and 53 percent of 2015 Masters of Finance grads, up from 30 percent in 2014.

Closing the gap

When it comes to women in business, there’s plenty of work to do to close the gender and pay gap, but initiatives are underway. A new report out from GMAC, “Minding the Gap: Tapping the Potential of Women to Transform Business” stresses the role of MBA programs as a “primary talent pipeline” for women. Improving gender diversity at the graduate level, the authors argue, is a crucial step in fostering the next generation of female business leaders.