Third Of A Million: True Cost of A Top MBA



2011 Average  

Forgone Pay

2011 Recommended 


Total Cost Of 

Getting An MBA

Harvard Business School $90,400* $168,000 $348,800
Stanford GSB $88,750* $174,162 $351,662
Pennsylvania (Wharton) $74,000* $178,400 $326,400
Dartmouth (Tuck) $74,000* $168,100 $316,200
MIT (Sloan) $74,000* $165,264 $313,264
Northwestern (Kellogg) $73,960 $162,458 $310,378
Columbia Business School $73,425* $175,740 $322,590
Chicago (Booth) $72,320* $170,976 $315,608
USC (Marshall) $67,000 $159,600 $293,600
UC-Berkeley (Haas) $66,345 $156,244 $288,934
NYU (Stern) $65,972 $165,340 $297,284
Texas-Austin (McCombs) $65,033 $134,280 $264,346
Virginia (Darden) $64,325* $151,000 $279,650
Duke (Fuqua) $64.087 $143,718 $271,892
UNC (Kenan-Flagler) $63,850* $145,656 $273,356
Cornell (Johnson) $63,640* $147,320 $274,600
Yale School of Management $63,126 $157,790 $277,790
Michigan (Ross) $62,000 $147,448 $271,448
UCLA (Anderson) $59,144 $153,174 $271,462
Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) $58,200 $154,000 $270,400
Wisconsin-Madison $54,653 $86,074 $195,380
Georgetown (McDonough) $52,618 $148,880 $254,116
Vanderbilt (Owen) $48,338 $175,608 $272,284
Indiana (Kelley) $46,189 $126,080 $218,458

Source: Business schools reporting to Bloomberg BusinessWeek. An asterisk indicates an estimate based on previously reported data.

Notes: To calculate the total cost of getting an MBA, P&Q multiplied the annual forgone pay by two to account for the opportunity cost of being out of work for two years. We then added that total to the school’s recommended two-year budget which includes tuition, required fees, as well as room and board. In all cases, these are conservative estimates. They assume no increase in the recommended budget for the second year of business school, and most observers believe these recommended numbers are 10% to 20% below what a typical MBA will spend in a two-year program. We used recommended budgets for non-residents at public universities where tuition may be slightly lower for residents.



  • Umair

    Just a quick comment on the calculation. When we calculate the opportunity cost for MBA it has to be tuition (2yrs) + cost of living (2yrs) + Possible savings in those 2 years.

    You cannot add tax and money you might have spent on living to the opportunity cost.

    Once you do that MBA is still expensive but not as expensive as presented above

  • Regrets

    I went to one of these top schools. In addition to forfeiting the income, taking on the loan to get the MBA I ended up unemployed for two years after. I absolutely have no clue how I’m ever going to pay it all back because even though I have got a job not it doesn’t pay me close to the median of my class.
    Think hard before getting an MBA. Don’t let the marketing and hype fool you.

  • Chris

    Obviously this article focuses on MBA/Grad programs in the US, but does anyone have any experience with grad schools outside of the country? Clearly exchange rates come into play but just wanted to get any ideas on the thought of doing a MF/MBA abroad (HongKong, Europe, UK?)

  • Sandy

    @Gosh – Tuck is as ivy as it gets. Yes, the brand is not as well known in Asia (if that’s what you are referring to), but the school was ranked #1 by Economist (the no-nonsense UK publication) this year. Take every ranking with a pinch of salt, anyone applying to Wharton would not (or should not) apply to Tuck and vice vera. Very different schools and very different “school fit” case.