Thinking a recession’s a fine time to apply to business school? As a graduate of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, you’may earn a median salary of $150,000 annually, according to just-released stats.

“Wharton salary numbers and percent of graduates hired continue to be quite impressive, almost as good as 2019 and 2018 and comparable with other top schools like Harvard,” said Eliot Ingram, co-founder and CEO of Clear Admit, a Philadelphia-based data company that follows graduate programs and higher education.

“Can they maintain it through 2021?”

Wharton was first among America’s top-tier MBA programs to release 2020 salary data, as Ivy League rivals Harvard, Stamford, Columbia, MIT and Dartmouth have only 2019 data available, he said.

Wharton grads earned $150,000 median salaries across all industries in 2019, and Harvard grads overall earned $148,750 in 2019. Comparable full-time two-year MBA grads at Berkeley earned $139,000; Penn State and Temple MBAs earned annual salaries of $112,00 and $103,000 respectively in 2019.

Temple’s 2020 salary averaged $95,525, according to the most recent data. Temple spokesman Stephen Orbanek said “the most-recent 2020 figures obviously reflect what has been a particularly challenging job market amidst the pandemic. That’s one reason why we saw both the placement rate and average salary drop from 2019 to 2020.”

Still, MBA program are attracting more applicants this year -- typical during recessions, when Americans who are unemployed or have put off an advanced degree go back to school.

Until this year, MBA applications dropped for five years in a row because of a red-hot job market and pricey tuition. In the latest round, however, applications to U.S. business schools increased 20.6%, according to a new report from the Graduate Management Admission Council, which tracks the data. Online programs are cannibalizing many of the full-time two-year MBAs, according to the report.

Applications to the Wharton School’s MBA program rose by the same amount -- 21% in 2019-2020 -- to a new record. In September, Wharton reported that 7,158 candidates applied to its full-time, two-year MBA program, an increase of more than 1,200 applicants from the year-earlier total of 5,905.

Is Wharton still ranked in the top five business schools? According to Poets & Quants website and MBA admissions consulting group, Wharton ranks No. 4 among U.S. schools, behind No. 3 Harvard, No. 2 University of Chicago, and No. 1 Stanford.

“Most full time job offers made to the Wharton Class of 2020 were issued in the fall of 2019 when we had a pre-pandemic full economy,” Ingram said. “It will be interesting to see how the Wharton Class of 2021 is faring this fall.

Wharton also benefits from large companies, who directly or indirectly hire Wharton graduates, have recovered more quickly versus smaller companies.

“I suspect that Wharton’s Class of 2021 will still post respectable numbers, even if they are a bit less than the Class of 2020 numbers,” he said.

Harvard maintains detailed charts on recruiting by companies at Harvard Business School. But those figures haven’t been updated yet for 2020.

Temple spokesman Stephen Orbanek said the MBA’s full-time program just released 2020 figures that dropped slightly versus 2019.

“The most-recent 2020 figures obviously reflect what has been a particularly challenging job market amidst the pandemic. That’s one reason why we saw both the placement rate and average salary drop from 2019 to 2020,” he said. Temple’s 2020 salary averaged $95,525, according to the most recent data.

Wharton Class of 2020 career statistics are available here: Final-Career-Report-1.pdf (upenn.edu), and their Class of 2019 career stats here: Wharton-2019-Career-Report-FINAL.pdf (upenn.edu).