- The Wharton School/Facebook
Business school is expensive – especially at a top-notch school. At the 20 best business schools in U.S. News & World Report’s most recent ranking, you’ll shell out at least $100,000 to earn your MBA. At Harvard Business School or The Wharton School – the highest-ranked programs – you’re looking at $150,000 in tuition and fees.
Thankfully, you get a pretty good return on that investment. At most top business schools, the average starting salary and bonus for graduates more than covers the cost of the degree.
Business Insider used U.S. News’ business school ranking to highlight the 15 programs where MBAs earn the highest salaries after graduation. We’ve also included the school’s overall numerical score, with 100 representing the best possible result. (You can read a full breakdown of U.S. News’ methodology here.)
Each school in the top 15 sets the average graduate up to earn at least $140,000 in salary and bonus in their first year of employment after graduation.
Read on to check out the business schools where MBAs earn the highest salaries after graduation
Note: Tuition figures reflect annual costs for out-of-state students.
15. Carnegie Mellon University — Tepper School of Business
Location: Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Average starting salary:$140,289
Annual tuition and fees: $62,230
The Tepper school prepares graduates to pursue careers in marketing, finance, consulting, technology, entrepreneurship, or operations. The career center helps students connect with companies, meet with potential employers, and build their networks. Students are directly recruited bysome of the biggest names in business, including Goldman Sachs, IBM, Google, Bank of America, and Wells Fargo.
14. University of California at Los Angeles — Anderson School of Management
- Facebook/UCLA Anderson School of Management
Location:Los Angeles, California
Average starting salary:$140,457
Annual tuition and fees: $59,290
UCLA’s Anderson School of Management prides itself on “looking to the future to discover and chart what will be.” To that end, the school recently established an academic marketing partnership with Google to provide students with insight into Google’s pioneering approach to marketing measurement and storytelling. Many graduates accept jobs in the tech industry, where notable alumni include YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki and a number of Google executives.
13. Northwestern University — Kellogg School of Management
Average starting salary:$141,694
Annual tuition and fees: $67,792
Northwestern’s business school was established in the early 1900s, but it wasn’t until 1979 that the school took the Kellogg name following a $10 million donation from the John L. and Helen Kellogg Foundation – heirs of the family that started the famed cereal company.
The school emphasizes international experience. Its International Growth Lab pairs its students with those at ESADE in Barcelona and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology to develop strategies for solving an international business’ real-world problems. Kellogg also offers an accelerated, one-year MBA degree for top students who already have a business background.
12. Massachusetts Institute of Technology — Sloan School of Management
Average starting salary:$143,565
Annual tuition and fees: $68,250
The Sloan School of Management, which celebrated its 100-year anniversary last year, offers three MBA tracks: enterprise management, entrepreneurship and innovation, and finance. Sloan reported that 93% of 2016 graduates accepted job offers within 90 days of graduation at companies like Amazon, Google, McKinsey & Co., and Microsoft, and 6.1% of grads went on to start their own businesses.
11. Duke University — Fuqua School of Business
Location:Durham, North Carolina
Average starting salary:$144,799
Annual tuition and fees: $65,760
Ninety-two percent of full-time MBA students at Duke’s Fuqua School of Business land jobs within three months of graduation. The top-five recruiters from the school are Deloitte, McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, Amazon.com, and Microsoft. Deloitte alone hired 39 MBA students during the 2015-16 academic year for jobs and internships. Fuqua also offers a number of joint MBA programs, including JD/MBA, MD/MBA, and MPP/MBA.
10. New York University — Stern School of Business
Location: New York, New York
Average starting salary:$145,413
Annual tuition and fees: $69,110
Stern’s MBA program heavily focuses on individuality, and students can choose up to three specializations,with options including everything from banking to real estate to luxury marketing. Post-graduation,students end up at a range of companies, including Boston Consulting Group, NBCUniversal, Morgan Stanley, and Burberry.
The school takes its name from billionaire property mogul Leonard Stern, who earned his MBA from NYU in 1959 and donated $30 million to construct a new building for the business school in 1988.
9. University of Michigan — Ross School of Business
Location: Ann Arbor, Michigan
Average starting salary:$145,926
Annual tuition and fees: $64,678
The Ross School of Business strives to provide each student with opportunities to advance their career, and it facilitates a team of over 50 peer coaches to help them along the way. Hundreds of well-known companies visit the school to interview MBA candidates, and top recruiters for the class of 2016 included Amazon, Deloitte, Google, McKinsey & Co., and Microsoft.
8. Cornell University — Johnson Graduate School of Management
Location: Ithaca, New York
Average starting salary:$146,252
Annual tuition and fees: $64,584
Students in the one- and two-year MBA tracks participate in the Johnson Graduate School of Management’s uniqueimmersion program, in which students spend a semester focusing solely on a specific career path, such as digital technology or investment banking, through electives, site visits, and live case studies.
The school itself takes its name from a business legacy – S.C. Johnson, founder of the global household-product company of the same name. The school adopted the name in 1984 after the Johnson family gave $20 millionto it, the largest amount ever given to a business school at the time.
7. University of Chicago — Booth School of Business
Location: Chicago, Illinois
Average starting salary:$147,475
Annual tuition and fees: $67,668
Ninety-five percent of students from the 2016 class had secured employment within three months of graduation, and the top-five employers were McKinsey & Co., Boston Consulting Group, Amazon.com, Bain & Co., and Accenture.
Booth’s full-time MBA program focuses on training students for real-world business scenarios through experiential learning and lab courseswhere students work with actual early-stage startups. The school also brings in guest lecturers from private-equity and venture-capital companies, and some Booth students intern with the companies and help them evaluate new market and business opportunities.
6. Dartmouth College — Tuck School of Business
Location: Hanover, New Hampshire
Average starting salary:$148,997
Annual tuition and fees: $69,690
After their first year in the program,a full 100%of Tuck’s class of 2017 gained hands-on experience through summer internships.
Within three months of graduation, 96% of the class of 2016 had accepted job offers, many of them atbig-name companies,including Bain & Co., Goldman Sachs, Samsung, Deloitte, and Barclays Capital.
5. Columbia University — Columbia Business School
- David Lerman
Location: New York, New York
Average starting salary:$150,229
Annual tuition and fees: $71,624
Students begin crafting their network and community within the business world the minute they arrive at Columbia, thanks in part to the school’scluster system, which places first-year students in “clusters” of 65 to 70 people who take all their core classes together. Columbia also counts some of the greatest minds in finance among its alumni, including Berkshire Hathaway CEO Warren Buffett and former Bank of America executive Sallie Krawcheck.
4. University of Virginia — Darden School of Business
Average starting salary:$150,823
Annual tuition and fees: $63,500
The Darden School of Business offers one of the top MBA entrepreneurship programs among b-schools, awarding over $1 million in scholarships annually and offering highly specialized training like Venture Capital Bootcamp, a three-day workshop focused on early-stage investing. More than 90% of Darden grads accept job offers within 90 days of graduation, with a many landing in at consulting firms like Bain & Co. and A.T. Kearney.
3. Stanford University — Graduate School of Business
Location:Palo Alto, California
Average starting salary:$153,553
Annual tuition and fees: $66,540
Often ranked as a top-two business school, Stanford failed to reach the summit this year in the overall ranking in part due to lower job placement figures than competing schools. Sixty-three percent of the class of 2016 were employed by graduation, and 82% were employed three months after graduation – each figure well below the marks reached by the top-3 MBA programs. Stanford attributes the drop to students becoming more patient and selective.
But graduates who did accept a job commanded compensation packages that more than cover the entire $133,080 price tag for the two-year degree.
2. Harvard University — Harvard Business School
- Brian Snyder/Reuters
Average starting salary:$153,830
Annual tuition and fees: $75,353
Overall score: 100
The world’s oldest – and most expensive – MBA program, Harvard Business School is also often considered the best. When it comes to graduate compensation, it’s second only to The Wharton School.
The high average-starting salary its graduates command, the school’s reputation with employers, and the HBS network of more than 46,000 living alumni make it one of the most coveted business schools for students. HBS’s cadre of successful alumni – littered with politicians, CEOs, and billionaires – is unrivaled: Former New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg, former President George W. Bush, JPMorgan Chase CEO Jamie Dimon, former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg, Blackstone CEO Steve Schwarzman, and HP Chairman Meg Whitman all graduated from the institution.
1. University of Pennsylvania — The Wharton School
- The Wharton School/Facebook
Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
Average starting salary: $155,058
Annual tuition and fees: $73,634
Overall score: 100
The Wharton School tied with Harvard Business School for the top spot in the overall ranking, but it stands alone when it comes to salary. It’s the second-most expensive program in the country, but Wharton’s high average starting salary, stellar reputation, and 96% job placement within the first three months of graduation make it a worthwhile investment.
The first business school in the US, Wharton was established in 1881 from a $100,000 donation by industrial tycoon Joseph Wharton. The institute now boasts one of the largest alumni networks among b-schools, including notable figures like John Sculley of Pepsi and Apple, LinkedIn CEO Jeff Weiner, and billionaire financier Ron Perelman.