These Expensive Business Schools Will Pay Off — and One Is Even a Bargain

Go to one of the best schools and a business degree is worth it.
  • Bloomberg Businessweek released its Best B-Schools list last week and ranked schools according to learning, networking, entrepreneurship and compensation.
  • Annual cost of attendance at the top five schools is in the six figures, but so are the starting salaries for graduates.
  • The investment in business school is costly, but graduates of the top schools are expected to see a lifetime return on investment.

Be it the education, prestige, tapping into an alumni network, or career advancement or pivot, whatever the motivation, business school is a valuable investment in your future. If properly leveraged, graduating from a top-tier institution could fast-track your intended career path. But if the decision is one made out of haste or ennui, it could be a very costly mistake with little return on investment.

Above the tedious application process, a minimum two-year time commitment for traditional programs, possible geographic relocation and life upheaval, the biggest fear among prospective students is the cost of business school. There’s undoubtedly sticker shock that comes with all graduate school programs, but many prospective B-school students wrestle with the existential question: Is an MBA worth it?

The Real Value of an MBA

People who possess the requirements of admission to the best business schools — sterling undergraduate grades and impressive backgrounds — subscribe to the belief that the real value of an MBA is that the doors that will open will outweigh the cost to finance the degree.

Find Out: Where These 51 CEOS Went to College

The Best Business Schools Lead to High Salaries for Graduates

The investment in yourself is a costly one, however, Bloomberg Businessweek released its Best B-Schools list last week, which includes schools that leave zero ambiguity to the question of whether a business degree is worth it. The list even features one school that gives you extra bang for your buck.

Surveying close to 27,000 current MBA students, alumni and recruiters, the responses were categorized according to four indexes: learning, networking, entrepreneurship and compensation. If you’re still torn and deciding if getting an MBA is worth it, here are the top five schools ranked according to compensation:

No. 1: Stanford Graduate School of Business, Stanford, Calif.

  • Tuition: $73,062
  • Living allowance (rent, food, personal expenses): $32,712 for a single student; $53,001 for a married student
  • Median starting salary: $129,100

No. 2: Harvard Business School, Boston

  • Tuition: $73,440
  • Room and board: $13,350 for a single student for the nine-month school year; $20,180 for a married student for the nine-month school year
  • Median starting salary: $125,333

No. 3: The Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, Philadelphia

  • Tuition: $78,948
  • Room and board: $22,350
  • Median starting salary: $128,200

No. 4: The University of Chicago Booth School of Business, Chicago

  • Tuition: $72,000
  • Room and board: $22,185
  • Median starting salary: $120,125

No. 5: Stern School of Business, New York University, New York

  • Tuition: $71,676
  • Room and board: $26,024
  • Median starting salary: $112,000

The ranking’s 10th school is also the highest-rated state school. Here’s where you’ll get the most bang for your buck:

Haas School of Business; University of California, Berkeley; Berkeley, Calif.

  • Tuition: $61,050 for California residents; $61,506 for non-California residents
  • Room and board: $24,160
  • Median starting salary: $120,857

Click to keep reading about how college pays off over time.

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The median starting salary was determined by calculating the average across industries for each school.