Top 10 MBA Programs in the US for Return on Investment (ROI)

MBAs do not come cheap in the US, where the degrees usually run for two years, so calculating the return on investment (ROI) is paramount. In Europe a one-year model prevails. 

An MBA at a top-tier US business school may set you back $200,000 in tuition fees alone, not to mention the living expenses and the opportunity cost of forgoing a salary. 

However, the US is home to the world’s largest collection of elite business schools, where the payoff can be enormous. According to a recent QS Return on Investment Report, 19 of the world’s top-20 schools with the highest salaries are-US based. 

Also in terms of MBA ROI, North America also offers the best salary uplift, with an average of 74 percent. That means MBAs from US schools pay back their tuition fees in an average of 55 months, according to QS. 

There are big differences across institutions, however. These are the top 10 MBA programs in the US where you’ll get the most bang for your buck. 

Stanford, California 98 Followers 171 Discussions

Stanford Graduate School of Business in California offers the world’s biggest 10-year ROI by a wide margin, at more than $1m, the only school to break into seven figures, says QS. Stanford MBA alumni also boast the highest salaries in the world, at $140,600. What’s more, Stanford is also the world’s highest ranked business school as per the Financial Times’ global MBA ranking 2019. 

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Madison, Wisconsin 22 Followers 46 Discussions

MBA graduates from the Wisconsin School of Business make enormous salaries: more than $131,000 on average, which is around a 100 percent increase on their pre-MBA pay. In fact, US News last year rated the course as the best in the US for ROI, while it is 14th among public schools in the country. 

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East Lansing, Michigan 20 Followers 58 Discussions

Among the US MBA programs with the best ROI is the course put on by the Eli Broad College of Business at Michigan State University. The increase is a whopping 151 percent, to $118,000. The Economist says this is the best increase in the world, while Forbes says the Eli Broad MBA offers the fastest payback globally. 

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Tulsa, Oklahoma 2 Followers 2 Discussions

The University of Tulsa’s Collins College of Business is not on any global MBA rankings lists. But the business school in Oklahoma offers the quickest ROI in the US, the QS report states. MBA students there pay back their MBA fees in a relatively breezy 30 months, thanks to exceptionally low tuition fees and average alumni base salaries of $66,000. 

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Gainesville, Florida 56 Followers 79 Discussions
Florida - Warrington - Hough

The University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business is also very good value for money, thanks to the huge salary increase achieved by its alumni within three years, 151 percent, to $121,000, according to the FT. In addition, in recent years, the business school has offered 100 percent tuition scholarships for its full-time MBA, though just for American nationals. 

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Provo, Utah 22 Followers 40 Discussions
BYU - Marriott

Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business has a similarly impressive salary increase across the cohort of 138 percent, to an average of nearly $130,000. Because BYU is sponsored by the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, tuition for the Marriott MBA is significantly lower than at other US business schools of similar quality. 

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University Park, Pennsylvania 12 Followers 62 Discussions
Penn State - Smeal

Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal College of Business scores highly on many ROI lists, with a payback period of 31 months. The Economist put Smeal’s MBA salary increase at the sixth highest in the world. The mean starting salary for last year’s graduating class was a whopping $106,000. That means Smeal MBAs, on average, earn back more than half their investment within a year of graduating. 

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College Station, Texas 42 Followers 62 Discussions
Texas A&M - Mays

Mays Business School at Texas A&M University is ranked by Bloomberg Businessweek and Forbes as the seventh best public MBA school in the US. Tuition is relatively cheap, and the average salary is high: more than $100,000 within three months of graduation. The school maximizes ROI through paid internship placements with top firms and good career management services. 

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Richardson, Texas 33 Followers 41 Discussions
UT Dallas - Jindal

The Naveen Jindal School of Management at UT Dallas is another Texan school with a high ROI: QS puts the payback period at 34 months. The full-time MBA program is also well-ranked, with Bloomberg putting it at number 15 among all public business schools in the US. The course boasts a 90 percent placement rate, with graduates working at such companies as Amazon, Deloitte, Intel, Toyota and SpaceX.  

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Tempe, Arizona 26 Followers 65 Discussions
ASU - Carey

The W. P. Carey School of Business at Arizona State University made headlines a few years ago when it announced that it was launching full-ride scholarships for its MBA program. Coupled with a recent $15m investment in its career services, which help most graduates land jobs within three months, the ROI at Carey is high. 

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