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

2020 MBA Research Guide - Choose your MBA

"I attended three MBA Tours in US and Canada. I could just scratch the surface compared to what the guide has included. Thank you guys for the amazing book"

F1GMAT's Comprehensive MBA Research Guide will teach you how to select MBA programs through a bottom-up approach. 

Articulating your Post-MBA Goals and Career Path is the FIRST step. Which program will give you that hike in Salary, Switch in Career, Change in Location or Job Satisfaction?

We cover them all through our extensive analysis. 

Pages: 506

+ How to Choose the Best MBA Program: Factors to Consider
Define Post-MBA Goals
Pick your Path: Generalize or Specialize
Use Moral Algebra Method 
Use Multi-Attribute Utility Theory
Understand the Top 5 Risks
Measure MBA Career Service Team's Effectiveness
Use Bookending to Calculate MBA Admission Chance
Use Net Present Value to Calculate MBA Return on Investment
Don't Fall for the Mere Exposure Effect
Best Practices to find the truth in MBA Information Session or MBA Tour

Comprehensive MBA Research Guide:
Top MBA Programs by 19 Specializations:
+ General Management
+ Finance
+ Consulting
+ Marketing
+ Strategy
+ Operations Management
+ Supply Chain Management
+ Luxury Management
+ Information Systems
+ Hospitality Management
+ Accounting
+ Energy
+ Non-Profit
+ Wine
+ Sports
+ Sustainability
+ Leadership Development
+ Military &
+ International

+ Top MBA Program Ranking
Top 20 MBA Programs - Tuition Fee  
Top 31 MBA Programs in United States – Total Cost & Salary

Top 60 MBA – GMAT and GPA (Average & Median)
Top 20 European MBA Programs - Tuition Fee, Total Cost & Salary    
Top 20 European MBA Programs (Based on Actual Salary Increase)    
Top 20 European MBA Programs (Short-term return on investment)    
Top 20 Affordable European MBA Programs    
Top 10 MBA in UK – Salary & Fee   
Top MBA Destinations Based on Happiness Index    
Top MBA Destinations based on Innovation Index    
Top 10 MBA Job Markets based on Cost of living and Purchasing Power    
Top MBA Destination: By Economy    

+Comparisons - Top MBA Programs
Wharton vs. Columbia MBA
MIT vs. Stanford MBA  
Haas vs. Ross MBA    

Kellogg vs Ross MBA    
Booth vs Wharton MBA    
MIT Sloan vs Tuck MBA    

IIMA vs. ISB   

Harvard vs. Stanford MBA

+ MBA in France (2018)
Top Industries in France   
Top MBA Programs in France  

  Class Profile   
  Post-MBA Salary

Scholarships in France
External Funding 

+ MBA in the UK (2018)
Top Industries in the UK   
Top MBA Programs in the UK

  Class Profile   
  Post-MBA Salary

Scholarships in the UK
External Funding 

New Visa Rules: Post-Brexit

+ Germany: Industry Trends, Post MBA Jobs and Salaries (2020) (NEW!)
  • Manufacturing  
  • IoT and IIOT   
  • Technology   
  • FinTech   
  • Management Consulting   
  • Post-MBA industries (German Top Schools)   

Download F1GMAT's MBA Research Guide (2020)

Navigate F1GMAT

F1GMAT Services (MBA Applicants) 

F1GMAT's Books

MBA Salary(Latest Salary Data)
MBA Admission Interview Tips



MBA Application Essays

MBA Recommendation Letter

GMAT Tutorials

GMAT Question Bank

Top MBA Programs

Get F1GMAT's Newsletters (Best in the Industry)
Included in the Newsletter:

  • Ranking Analysis
  • Post-MBA Salary Trends
  • Post-MBA Job Function & Industry Analysis
  • Post-MBA City Review
  • MBA Application Essay Tips
  • School Specific Essay Tips
  • GMAT Preparation Tips
  • MBA Admission Interview Tips
  • School Specific Interview Tips
  • Funding Guidance and
  • Special Consultation Service (only for Subscribers)

Subscribe to F1GMAT's Newsletter