Which Business Schools Produce the Highest Returns?

IMD is ranked third among the top 50 business schools outside the U.S. by Poets&Quants.

IMD is ranked third among the top 50 business schools outside the U.S. by Poets&Quants.


High Return Schools Generally Rank Low Overall

Here’s another trend: the higher the return, the lower the overall ranking. Take Belgium’s Vlerick Business School. It ranks #17 in value and #100 overall. Another example: Switzerland’s St. Gallen’s ranks #88 overall, yet #9 in value. In fact, few schools buck this trend. The ones that did include Switzerland’s IMD (#12 overall and #3 for value), the University of Cambridge Judge Business School (#16 overall and #8 for value), and Insead (#5 overall and #10 for value).  Otherwise, 19 of the top 25 schools for return ranked below the top 50 overall. It is true: The first shall be last and the last shall be first in some contexts.

As you’d expect, the opposite is true too. Seven of the top 10 schools overall (including Harvard, Stanford, Wharton, MIT Sloan, Booth, Columbia, and Yale) were among the bottom 20 in terms of return  according to The Financial Times’ metrics. The main culprit? High annual tuition, for starters. Averaged together, the annual tuition of these seven schools comes to $59,041 according to U.S. News and World Report data (with Harvard Business School being the least expensive at $56,175). Excluding scholarships and financial aid, that’s nearly $120,000 over two years (as many schools are using – or migrating towards – 12- and 18-month models). Cost of living is another factor, as all but Yale are based in America’s most expensive metros (including New York City, San Jose, Chicago, Boston, and Philadelphia) according to Expatistan.

Harvard Business School

Harvard Business School

Stanford and Harvard Grads Earn the Highest Salaries

While American schools may not rank high on return after three years, their graduates do earn the highest compensation. In fact, the five highest weighted salaries belonged to Stanford ($184,566), Harvard ($178,300), Wharton ($170,472), Columbia ($164,181), and Kellogg ($157,719). Cracking the top 12 were MIT Sloan ($157,262), Booth ($156,004), Yale ($150,880), Dartmouth Tuck ($150,754), and Berkeley Haas ($149,487).

Overseas graduates who earned, on average, the fattest paychecks after three years include: The Indian Institute of Management, Ahmedabad ($157,459), the London School of Business ($156,553), France’s Insead ($148,183), Spain’s IE Business School ($146,933), the University of Cambridge ($144,350), Switzerland’s Spain’s IESE Business School ($143,168), and Switzerland’s IMD ($142,446).

Chinese MBA Salaries Skyrocket

It isn’t easy to give up a sure paycheck in lieu of business school. In China, it is the smart move, no doubt. Five of the six biggest increases in salary were reported at Chinese business schools, led by the Shanghai Jiao Tong University (166%) and the Fudan University School of Management (163%). If you’re seeking the highest compensation, then Ceibs ($127,117) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology Business School ($125,060) are your best bets in China.

Rice University's Jones Graduate School of Business

Rice University’s Jones Graduate School of Business

Among American MBA programs, the biggest gainers, aside from the University of Pittsburgh, include Rice University (120%), Wake Forest University (120%), Penn State University (117%), Columbia University (116%), Indiana’s Kelley School of Business (116%), the University of Rochester (115%), Yale (115%), and Harvard (114%).

In terms of the most improvement when it comes to value, Purdue’s Krannert School of Management jumped from #63 in 2013 to #31 in 2014. Other schools that raised their value include: The Indian School of Management (+19), the UK’s University of Strathclyde (+18), China’s Fudan University (+17), the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business (+17), the University of British Columbia (+16), and the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School (+15).

Despite its graduates enjoying enviable salary growth, China’s Ceibs tumbled 27 spots on the value ranking to #51. Other large drops from the previous year include: the UK’s University of Bath (-26), the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (-26), UCLA’s Anderson School of Management (-20), and the London Business School (-19).

To view the top 100 schools, continue to the next pages.

Don’t Miss: The MBA’s Value Eroded in the Past 10 Years

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