Stanford Breaks Record On MBA Cost

This year’s second most expensive MBA is from New York University’s Stern School of Business. Stern estimates the cost of its two-year program to be $184,532, thanks in part to its annual estimate of the cost of room and board of $24,472. That is the highest estimate for housing and food by any business school, though anyone who has lived in New York would tell you it is inpossible to feed yourself and live in a studio apartment for that sum.

For its part, Cornell’s Johnson School notes that its estimate for housing and food is based on “sharing a moderately priced apartment” that would cost $800 a month and putting aside $450 monthly for food. That is at least possible in Ithaca, New York.

Interestingly enough, while the annual tuition rates range from a high of $62,034 at Wharton to a low of $52,900 at Duke University’s Fuqua School, there is far greater variety in the estimates of additional costs. Dartmouth College’s Tuck School figures that it costs only $12,643 for a year’s worth of room and board on-campus. But Wharton estimates that the annual cost for room and board in Philadelphia is considerably higher, $20,644.


The most expensive books and supplies are estimated by Harvard Business School which largely teaches by case study method. Harvard says the yearly cost to an MBA student for those case studies and other course materials is a sky high $6,690. Columbia Business School, in comparison, estimates books and supplies to be a mere $900 a year. More typically, top schools estimate that the cost of an annual supply of books and course materials are about $2,000. Chicago Booth figures MBA students pay about $2,100 a year, while UC-Berkeley Haas says its MBA candidates are shelling out $2,500 a year.

Most of the best international schools are far cheaper than their U.S. counterparts. London Business School now says the cost of its MBA program, including housing and personal expenses, is $111,549–some $92,288 in total tuition and fees and the rest for food, accommodation, books, school trips, and travel home. INSEAD’s ten-month MBA program in Fontainebleau, France, costs an estimated $107,449.


Of course, Stanford has one offsetting fact to offer MBA applicants besides the palm trees and mild weather of Northern California. The median total compensation for a freshly minted MBA from Stanford this year was $185,000. So at least there’s plenty of cash to quickly pay down those student loans.

What It Costs To Get An MBA Degree From A Top School

SchoolEstimated Cost of MBAAnnual TuitionAnnual Food & HousingAnnual Books & Supplies
New York (Stern)$184,532$56,554$24,472$1,960
UPenn (Wharton)$180,764$62,034$20,644$2,000
MIT (Sloan)$177,898$58,200$18,757$2,046
Chicago (Booth)$177,366$56,000$18,900$2,100
Dartmouth (Tuck)$174,350$56,160$12,643$1,200
Northwestern (Kellogg)$168,908$56,550$15,711$1,647
Virginia (Darden)$163,666$53,900$13,230$3,000
UC-Berkeley (Haas)$159,634$53,969$16,602$2,500
Carnegie (Tepper)$157,932$54,800$14,612$1,236
UNC (Kenan-Flagler)$157,048$53,992$15,364$2,400
UCLA (Anderson)$156,084$54,530$14,172$2,400
Cornell (Johnson)$150,612$53,796$12,500$1,100
Duke (Fuqua)$150,202$52,900$11,916$1,250
Michigan (Ross)$147,808$55,194$12,852$1,716
Texas (McCombs)$137,672$48,832$16,500$1,504
Emory (Goizueta)$134,804$44,600$18,128$2,000

Sources: Business school websites

Notes: Non-resident tuition and fees used for public universities. * Includes personal expenses for a moderate lifestyle.


  • TA


    How would you value return on investment for international students going to the top 10 schools in USA versus going to a london business school or rotman school of management solely based on ease of getting work permits and green cards (once you havea job ) and not getting kicked out of the country based on a silly visa lottery system

  • Alex Chu

    Agreed – regardless of b-school, applicants should count on their real expenses to be 10-20% higher than what the school estimates.

  • Reader

    I thought Harvard was $87,200 per year from its website at Doesn’t that add to $174,400 instead of $164,400?

  • GSBClassof`14

    The cost on the websites is an underestimate – I am at the GSB, and almost everyone I know at the GSB, and also other schools like HBS and Wharton has budgeted $200 k plus. And none of us are particularly wealthy – this is a pretty standard assessment. Net of any summer savings this is more than $ 300 per day.

  • JDMBA33

    Alex, will your consulting fee also go up as a result?

  • Rick

    I agree. Each application costs on average 250 dollars. Then you have the flight costs to visit the campus and then interview. Nowadays most use consultants, so that’s another added expense. The GMAT exams, books, quality classes from a provider like Manhattan or Kaplan. You are absolutely right; it’s a very capital and time intensive process. Even a HBS or GSB MBA needs to be carefully examined and the upsides and downsides closely considered.

    Unfortunately, the schools are not going to reduce tuition fees anytime soon! Any b-school professor will tell you that proactive price cuts don’t make you different, nor do they make you better off. They only make you poorer, unless you have the evidence that consumers are not willing to pay for this. Of course there are plenty of folks that are more than willing to do so an MBA from a top school. But I think demand for hybrid MBA programs and shorter programs with more flexibility can put pressure on the traditional 2 yr MBA model.

  • SaintsFan224

    Great post Alex! I think for many people like myself – those already in finance field and looking for an edge and upward mobility, the MBA is something that needs to be considered on a case-by-case basis. Many of us are not willing to give up two years of income and take on such an enormous debt in the hopes of garnering a “relatively small” improvement. We need to ask serious questions about the value proposition of the MBA. Moreover, this discourages a lot of good candidates from applying because of the capital intensive nature of the process.

  • Alex Chu

    To be honest, this escalation is getting ridiculous.

    I have found over the years, the cost has become a far greater consideration whether to apply or not.

    Here’s a bit of perspective:

    I went to Wharton over 10 years ago (1999-2001). It was a while ago, but not *that* long ago.

    I spent a total of $120K which included tuition, living expenses, etc. And I lived quite lavishly in a high rise apartment w/ doorman, ski trips, frequent cross country trips to the west coast, weekend vacations, and I dined out 3 meals a day (never bought groceries). Most people at that time probably spent closer to $100 – 110K.

    Anyhow, tuition/fees back then was around $50,000 *total* for both years. And yet, it seemed super expensive already back then!

    So in 10 years, tuition has essentially doubled (or more than doubled in some cases).

    Pre-MBA salaries have likely doubled (back then, virtually no one was making six figures coming into b-schools; the only ones that came close were the IB/PE analysts who made around $90K including bonus, whereas most people were in the $40-65K range). Now, it’s pretty common for pre-MBA folks from any industry to be close to or surpassing six figures coming into b-school.

    Post-MBA salaries have remained stagnant. 10 years ago, post-MBA comp was around $90-$120K. Today, that hasn’t changed all that much – maybe a bump of $10-20K.

  • JohnAByrne

    That statement refers to the conservative nature of these estimates overall. It’s a rare business school that does not put through a 3% to 5% increase in tuition each year and often more when all the fees are added up including mandatory health insurance for students. Indeed, as far as I know, Stanford is the only top school that essentially guarantees that the annual tuition will remain the same for the two years a student is in the MBA program.

  • GSBforLife

    “They don’t include, for example, an inevitable increase in tuition during a student’s second year” is inaccurate since the tuition at Stanford is the same for both years.

  • ta

    if there is one MBA in this world on this planet that is worth it…its stanford….id add harvard to that list…..maybe just maybe wharton….maybe…every other school needs to have its advantages and disadvantanges measures

  • Chari

    Wow 190k! I wish I could afford that.