For those who have endured the trying times of juggling student debt with coursework and often, paid work, it’s easy to have doubts about the value of your degree. But now, things might just be looking up.

“The hiring market looks very promising right now,” advises Jennifer Garfinkel; Director of Media Relations, Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC). As part of a nonprofit associated with top graduate business schools, Garfinkel’s concentration is on MBA students and graduates.

The outlook is bright

Globally, 86 percent of companies are planning to hire recent MBA graduates this year, up from the 79 percent of companies that hired these graduates in 2016. For the organization’s president and CEO Sangeet Chowfla, the positive increase signifies the value these programs and degrees provide for their students, as well as the crucial skills that they offer employers.

“For start-ups alone, three out of every four plan to hire recent MBA graduates, up from the 52 percent that hired them in 2016.”

“Despite the political uncertainty about the status of immigration and work visas in the United States and other parts of the world, companies are keen to hire graduates from this year’s MBA and business master’s programs, including international candidates,” explains Chowfla. Companies interested in hiring MBA and business master’s graduates requiring legal documentation is also up seven percentage points from last year.

The bright outlook applies to both graduates of MBA and business master’s programs, with the Master in Management and Master of Accounting degrees most in demand.

“I am trying to encourage people to take the GMAT if you are interested in getting the graduate business degree,” said Garfinkel.

An investment in talent

The survey is done annually, but this year is the first with differentiated statistics for start-ups versus mature or established companies. For start-ups alone, three out of every four plan to hire recent MBA graduates, up from the 52 percent that hired them in 2016.

The good news doesn’t stop at landing the job. Globally, 52 percent of companies reported that MBA base salaries will increase at 34 percent in 2017.

“Once again, this year’s report brings to light the continued value of the MBA degree to the marketplace,” said Megan Hendricks, executive director of MBA CSEA.