Full Cost Of The MBA Keeps Rising: Four Schools Above $200K

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business

Indiana University, Kelley School of Business


It’s similar for both University of California elites, UC-Berkeley Haas and UCLA Anderson, where the total cost of the MBA exceeds $170,000. At UCLA’s Anderson School the difference between the cost of the MBA for in-state and out-of-state students is separated by little more than $3,300.

The school with the biggest percentage increase was Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business. The total cost of a Goizueta MBA rose 12.5% to $162,336, from $144,256 only 16 months ago, when we did our last analysis on MBA costs. During that same timeframe, some schools really held the line. Duke University’s Fuqua School, for example, actually posted a decline to $168,376, down from $169,982. Fuqua, however, posted the largest percentage increase in our last analysis, with a 13.2% rise in the previous two years from $150,202 in 2012.

The least expensive Top 25 MBA program in the U.S.? It’s Indiana University’s Kelley School of Business, coming it at a total cost of $138,594. Shockingly, that is even less than the cost of the degree a year earlier when it was estimated at just over $142,000. But Indiana has the lowest out-of-state annual tuition at $44,460 and, given the school’s location in Bloomington, Indiana, among the lowest room and board costs at $12,150 a year. Even better is the cost for in-state students: $100,674, roughly $38,000 less than non-residents pay. That’s the biggest resident discount for any public in the Top 25.


All these estimates of the cost of an MBA vary significantly based on the living costs and additional fees that schools tack on to the tuition bill. Annual room and board costs–which a person would have whether they were in an MBA program or not–varies from a high of $29,202 at Stanford in pricey Silicon Valley, to a low of $9,900 at Notre Dame’s Mendoza School in South Bend, Indiana.

After all, these estimates can vary even in the same city. NYU estimates room and board at $25,200, for instance, while uptown Columbia Business School figures that room and board should total $20,700. It’s worth noting that the average monthly rent for a studio apartment in Manhattan is now $2,351 for a total of $28,212 a year. Even sharing a studio wouldn’t get you anywhere near Columbia’s $20,700 estimate once you include the cost of food, unless you are on a diet of Ramen noodles. These intra-city disparities exist elsewhere. In Boston, Harvard’s room and board estimate totals $26,088, while nearby MIT says it is $19,734.

Most of the estimates published by business schools are for a “moderate lifestyle.” But a high-living student could blow through these numbers fairly quickly. In fact, the social costs of going to an elite MBA program are often considerable, involving expensive dinners and nights out with classmates to long-weekends traveling across country and abroad. Chicago Booth estimates that the cost of food per month is just $600 for an MBA. That sum wouldn’t include many dinners downtown.

The Rising Cost of the MBA Degree


School Total Cost 2015 Cost Increase Annual Tuition Annual Room & Board
  1. Stanford $210,838 $202,870 4.0% $64,050 $29,202
  2. NYU (Stern) $206,474 $203,876 1.3% $63,700 $25,200
  3. Pennsylvania (Wharton) $200,908 $195,084 3.0% $70,870 $20,626
  4. Columbia $199,648* $192,936 3.5% $65,988 $20,700
  5. Harvard $196,800 $190,200 3.5% $61,225 $26,088
  6. MIT (Sloan) $196,028 $192,028 2.5% $65,750 $19,734
  7. Dartmouth (Tuck) $194,850 $187,100 4.1% $64,200 $22,350**
  8. Chicago (Booth) $193,208 $189,866 1.8% $63,980 $19,920
  9. Northwestern (Kellogg) $186,026 $177,614 4.7% $64,059 $15,711
10. Yale SOM $176,240 $171,750 2.6% $61,500 $22,100
11. Virginia (Darden) $174,874 $169,982 2.9% $61,150 $16,690
12. Cornell (Johnson) $174,888 $163,784 6.8% $61,584 $16,760
13. UCLA (Anderson) $170,982 $167,610 2.0% $54,644 $17,719
14. Georgetown (McDonough) $170,640 $167,020 2.2% $56,892 $20,306
15. UC-Berkeley (Haas) $170,415 $165,524 3.0% $54,777 $24,324
16. UNC (Kenan-Flagler) $169,105 $164,860 2.3% $59,264 $17,510
17. Duke (Fuqua) $168,376 $169,982 —– $60,600 $12,394
18. Carnegie Mellon (Tepper) $168,292 $160,008 5.2% $61,440 $15,676
19. Wash U. (Olin) $167,077 $152,136 9.8% $55,400 $17,696
20. Michigan (Ross) $165,144 $159,100 3.8% $61,590 $14,248
21. Emory (Goizueta) $162,336 $144,256 12.5% $57,000 $17,972
22. U. Wash (Foster) $149,322 $146,772 1.7% $45,450 $19.016
23. Notre Dame (Mendoza) $142,452 NA NA $50,326 $9,900
24. Texas (McCombs) $140,264 $140,064 —– $48,832 $18,000
25. Indiana (Kelley) $138,594 $142,158 —– $44,460 $12,150

Source: Business school websites Notes: * Columbia’s estimate of $199,648 does not include the cost of an optional study tour which would easily put the program above $200,000. ** Estimate


15 thoughts on “Full Cost Of The MBA Keeps Rising: Four Schools Above $200K”

  1. Natalie

    John, schools estimate the cost of living budget over a 9 month period. They don’t take into account, however, that you must sublet your apartment if you are on a one year lease. The budget is required for financial aid estimations and those are federal government guidelines. Having said that, the COL for students have gone up significantly over 30 years, but so have faculty salaries, program add-ons, and technology.

    • John A. Byrne

      Very true and it must be said that there is no shortage of super smart people applying to these very expensive schools.

  2. Tuk Tran

    business schools are just positioning themselves to be disrupted…fat, bureaucratic machines with no incentive to cut costs…people will soon conclude that it is not worth it and will find other alternatives–we have already seen that finance jobs are not paying decent bonuses…..right now you have so many free MOOC courses that are probably decimating many of the 2000 dollar a day executive programs that are ridiculously priced…they are pricing themselves to extinction and it will be a hard fall…I know there is no correlation now to price and demand but just as Britannica encyclopedia was sitting pretty in the early nineties, bschools will fall hard….

  3. Nick

    You would be better off buying a business for 200k or even several at that price point. Why should education in America be run as a business when their counterparts in Europe are able to operate at 1/4th the cost?

  4. Edward Mayberry

    I would be interested in a comparison against MBA programs stateside as opposed to perhaps going to Canada and seeing what weight that same MBA would hold.

      • TechProductGuy

        @poetsandquants-c81e728d9d4c2f636f067f89cc14862c:disqus — any update on this? If hypothetically you had to place Rotman in the US B-School rankings, where would it roughly lie (considering jobs, immigration, pay)?

    • C. Taylor

      Things to keep in mind about Canada.

      Think of Canada as comparable to a single US state. Canada’s population is between that of Texas and California, and its GDP is similar to that of NY. Its culture is similar to that of states in the Midwest US. French is very useful in Montreal, but is not a must for MBAs.

      In terms of MBA jobs, there are obviously fewer to go around (state-sized economy as opposed to US-sized). I would suggest looking at one of four programs: McGill (Desautels), Ivey, Queens, and Toronto (Rotman). Schulich and Sauder mainly send people back abroad. Rotman does as well but to a lesser extent. There are other programs which probably place well in specific cities.

      In terms of career outcomes at those four programs, think of Midwestern US stalwarts such as Washington (Olin), Indiana (Kelley), Minnesota (Carlson), or Notre Dame (Mendoza).

      Here’s a GDP map (from Newsweek) to put things in perspective:


  5. Hereford Johnson

    I used to want to apply to top programs with the end goal of doing strategy at an MBB. With prices so high, while i think i could get into a top 10, the cost just doesn’t seem to be worth it when I could still reach my goal in the top 11-20 range with possible scholarship. My only worry is does the MBA brand mean anything 5+ years out?

    • John A. Byrne

      We’re currently updating this story with the latest numbers and have already found that nine schools are now over $200K. That new story will be published early next week. But I just wanted to also add that substantial scholarship aid is available at most of the schools, especially the schools that fall just outside the high range on the table. You have to remember that a high percentage of students incur no debt at all and it’s not always because they have the cash to fund a full MBA. Many of them are either fully funded or largely funded by the schools. And when you look at prestige schools and find them in the middle of the pack, that is a sure sign of generous scholarship support. There are several schools now that essentially fully fund all their MBAs: ASU’s Carey School, UMass’ Isenberg School, and the Asia School of Business in Malaysia where students are largely taught by MIT Sloan professors.

Comments are closed.