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Top 31 MBA Programs - Total Cost & Salary (United States)

The return on investment for MBA programs is short-term. Anyone who spins the idea that in the long-term when you hit the mid-40s, the brand recall of the Business School will suddenly change your life is misleading you.

Best Post-MBA Salary

1.Stanford Graduate School of Business ($161,000)
2.Harvard Business School ($160,000)
3.NYU Stern School of Business ($156,717)
4.Darden School of Business    ($154,176)
5.Yale School of Management    ($154,000)

Stanford with $161,000 leads the 31 Schools on total Full-time MBA Salary, edging over the closest rival - Harvard by $1,000. NYU Stern, Darden, and Yale complete the top 5 list with a total median MBA salary that ranges from $154,000 to $161,000.

Most Affordable MBA

TC: Total Cost PMBAS: Post MBA Salary

1. Smeal College of Business (TC:$135,504  PMBAS: $113,500)
2. McCombs School of Business (TC:$137,964  PMBAS: $141,045)
3. Kelley School of Business (TC:$139,226  PMBAS:$132,000)
4. Broad College of Business (TC:$139,786  PMBAS:$115,800)
5. Carlson School of Management (TC:$140,694   PMBAS:$128,720)


Among the 31 Top US MBA programs, Smeal College of Business offers the Full-time MBA program with the lowest cost, joined by McCombs, Kelley, Broad and Carlson MBA programs. For the affordable MBA programs, McCombs has an equally impressive post-MBA total salary ($141,045) - highest among the five.

Costliest MBA Programs

TC: Total Cost PMBAS: Post MBA Salary

1. Foster School of Business (TC:$245,843 PMBAS:$140,030)
2. Columbia Business School (TC:$237,424  PMBAS:$150,000)
3. Harvard Business School (TC:$232,280    PMBAS:$160,000)
4. Stanford Graduate School of Business(TC:$218,436 PMBAS:$161,000)
5. NYU Stern School of Business(TC:$214,936 PMBAS:$156,717)


Costliest MBA programs tend to give the best Post-MBA salary. Foster School of Business with over $245,843 in total cost was the only exception. Columbia Business School at a $237,424 total cost to the candidate also didn’t feature in the top 5 list for the best Post-MBA salary but managed to enter the top 10 list at #7. Harvard, Stanford, and NYU Stern feature in the top 5 costliest and the best post-MBA salary lists.

Cost vs. Return

If you have read our detailed analysis on how to calculate return on investment, where we compared MIT Sloan vs. Stanford Full-time MBA, the conclusion on the short-term return is simple. In dollar terms, you will get a return on your investment only after 3 years for top MBA programs. The long-term value depends on how you leverage the school’s brand through the Alumni network. Tribalism is strong in Business Schools. An Alumnus will favor you just because of the brand. This can come handy while pitching as an Entrepreneur or as someone seeking an executive position or in Sales meetings where access to decision makers is the key.

Criteria for Full-time MBA Ranking

The Full-time MBA programs listed below will give you over $100,000 median base salary, immediately on graduation. The only exception in the list is Smith MBA, but given the strategic location of Maryland in Supply Chain Management, Manufacturing, and Life Science, Smith School of Business finds special mention in our list.

Total Cost in the US MBA Ranking

The cost difference between in-state and out-of-state students range from $10,000 to $20,000. International MBA candidates have to pitch in an additional $30,000 to $40,000. We have used the costliest part of the MBA program on our list to ensure that you get the most accurate picture of the program.

If you want to learn more about the curriculum, class profile, tuition fee, salary breakdown and other elements of the total cost for the MBA programs in US, Download our latest book – How to choose the Best MBA in US: The Ultimate Guide.

Business School Post-MBA Salary (Total)Total Cost
Stanford Graduate School of Business$161,000$218,436
Harvard Business School$160,000$232,280
NYU Stern School of Business$156,717$214,936
Darden School of Business$154,176$186,266
Yale School of Management$154,000$187,900
Johnson Graduate School of Business$152,132$179,508
Columbia Business School$150,000$237,424
MIT Sloan School of Management$150,000$201,028
University of Chicago Booth School of Business$150,000$193,806
Fuqua School of Business$150,000$178,390
Haas School of Business$149,777$174,722
Wharton Business School$145,000$210,530
Kellogg School of Management$145,000$188,366
Ross School of Business$145,000$173,980
Tepper School of Business$142,000$166,852
McDonough School of Business$141,045$177,040
McCombs School of Business$141,045$137,964
Foster School of Business$140,030$245,843
UCLA Anderson School of Management$140,000$186,002
Jones Graduate School of Business$135,870$164,124
USC Marshall School of Business$135,000$172,925
UNC Chapel Hill Kenan-Flagler Business School$132,500$175,982
Kelley School of Business$132,000$139,226
Carlson School of Management$128,720$140,694
Mendoza College of Business$125,000$146,576
BU Questrom School of Business$120,147$143,276
Broad College of Business$115,800$139,786
Smith School of Business$115,600$161,548
Smeal College of Business$113,500$135,504
UC Davis Graduate School of Business$113,000$148,488
Paul Merage School of Business$106,500$152,828

Top 31 MBA Programs - United States


We analyze the MBA Curriculum, Class Profile, Total Cost and Post-MBA Salary of Top 31 MBA programs in the US.

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Download How to Choose the Best MBA in US: The Ultimate Guide


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