MBA Programs with the Highest Return on Investment

by Stacy Blackman Consulting, Nov 7, 2022

Assessing potential return on investment helps candidates determine whether pursuing an MBA degree makes sense both professionally and financially. After all, business school isn't cheap. Paying $150K+ to earn an MBA sounds painful, but most business school graduates experience a substantial salary increase. Plus, the majority report having greater job satisfaction and the ability to advance quickly and, thus, earn more in a shorter time.

The Georgetown University Center on Education and the Workforce recently analyzed more than 700 graduate programs in business administration, management, and operations. Their report named the following as the top business schools for ROI two years after graduation.

Top 10 MBA Programs for Return on Investment

First Place: University of Pennsylvania Wharton School
First Year Tuition: $84,874
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $169,200

2. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management
First Year Tuition: $78,276
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $168,000

3. Tuck School of Business at Dartmouth
First Year Tuition: $77,520
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $162,000

4. Columbia Business School
First Year Tuition: $70,316
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $160,800

5. Stanford Graduate School of Business
First Year Tuition: $76,950
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $156,000

6. University of Chicago Booth School of Business
First Year Tuition: $77,841
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $148,800

7. University of Virginia Darden School of Business
First Year Tuition: $72K-75K
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $144,000

8. Yale School of Management
First Year Tuition: $79,000
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $140,400

9. Duke University Fuqua School of Business
First Year Tuition: $71,750
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $135,600

10. University of Michigan Ross School of Business
First Year Tuition: $71,750
Median salary, net of federal student loans: $133,200

( source: Bloomberg)

Overall, the Georgetown ranking found that business degrees and MBAs do pay off, at least if you attend an elite business school. For the top programs, "the returns are positive — and high," said Emma Wenzinger, who co-authored the Georgetown report.

How to Calculate ROI

Students in two-year MBA programs have the most significant investment expense because they miss two years of employment. They need to recoup the cost of the MBA degree plus the opportunity cost to get a positive return on their investment.

Prospective students should consider payback time with projected cumulative growth and average growth rate when looking at return on investment as a motivating factor for pursuing an MBA.

Top MBA has an easy formula you can use to sketch out your ROI post-MBA and ten years down the line. But remember that the value of the MBA degree varies depending on your post-graduation plans. The brand of the business school where you earn the degree is also a factor.

Keep This in Mind When Considering ROI

Students of two-year MBA programs typically have the most significant investment expense because they miss two years of employment. They need to recoup the cost of the MBA degree plus the opportunity cost to get a positive return on their investment.

Prospective students should consider payback time with projected cumulative growth and average growth rate when looking at return on investment as a motivating factor for pursuing an MBA. But keep in mind the value of the MBA degree varies depending on your post-graduation plans, as well as the brand of the business school where you earn the degree.

Remember, every choice you make when deciding whether an MBA makes sense for you– from the cost of the city you choose to live in, the field you move into, to the school you choose – will impact your financial return on investment. Nevertheless, no other degree can open doors as the MBA does.

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Stacy Blackman Consulting is the only MBA admissions firm with a complete panel of former Admissions Officers from every M7 program and the elite European MBA programs. If you are looking for guidance on your MBA application, we can help with hourly and comprehensive consulting services. Contact us to learn more.