University of Washington (Foster): Think an MBA from a top 25 MBA program will lead to a hermit lifestyle and ramen noodle diet after graduation? What if I told you that there was a top 25 MBA program where graduates leave with $45,000 debt…and $111K starting salaries (and average $29k bonuses to boot)? Does that sound too good to be true? Well, if you can stand the rain, you’d be hard-pressed to find a better value that the Foster School of Business. Located in the heart of Seattle —home to a thriving startup scene and such Fortune 500 jewels as Amazon, Starbucks, Microsoft, and Boeing — Foster bridges high tech leadership with global know-how for a truly transformative MBA experience.
A small program squeezed inside a resource-rich public university, Foster is slowly coming of age. The Class of 2018, for example, attracted a student body of 43% women, the second highest rate among top MBA programs. Being a Foster MBA student is rather exclusive company too, with just 24% of applicants being accepted into the program.
It’s also a program that’s very comfortable with who they are and where they stand. How comfortable? In 2016, Foster created the first “Do It Yourself” ranking, where students can weigh the value of various metrics in an automated “MBA rankings calculator” to spit out a list of programs that best suit their preferences. Think of it like the Progressive Insurance model “Name Your Price” tool. Foster may not always be the top choice, but the school is confident enough in their proposition to know they’ll make it into a lot of the conversations.
University of Illinois: Speaking of debt, what if you could earn an MBA for just $22,000? Pretty tempting, right? That’s the bet being made by the University of Illinois through its iMBA program. Partnering with Coursera, the school has taken its MBA program online, with a few nifty twists. For one, students enjoy the flexibility to take one course, earn a specialization certificate, or run the gauntlet for an MBA. Thanks to Coursera, Illinois can focus on the content end, passing the savings along to students. How much can they save? Well, an online MBA can run anywhere from $50,000 (Temple) to $118,000 (Carnegie Mellon), making the iMBA a steal!
Isn’t the curriculum just a glorified MOOC, you ask? Ha! If it were, the iMBA program wouldn’t have retained 265 of the 270 students from its first year class. While admissions standards are lax and the network negligible — it doesn’t require a GMAT or GRE, just three years of professional experience — it can act as a quick-and-dirty way to earn the credential. “We did not just take a face-to-face MBA degree and put it online,” explains Raj Echambadi, the school’s senior associate dean, in a 2016 interview with Poets&Quants. “We created a degree with online experiences that are new and unique. At a broader level, we have created a new definition of what a global MBA means. We have redefined who an MBA student is.”
IESE and IE Business School: Why combine the two? Simple: They produced similar, albeit sterling, results over the past year. At IESE, enrollment shot up by 22%, as its average GMATs surged from 680 to 690. In contrast, IE Business School rode a 17% increase in applications to 57 additional students, a 13% bump. At the same time, GMAT scores also climbed 10 points to 680. You can also give IE Business School extra credit points after Santiago Iñiguez walked away with Poets&Quants’ “Dean of the Year” honor in 2016.
Alas, these weren’t the only schools posting lofty numbers in 2016. Applications to the University of Rochester (Simon) swelled by 22%. The University of Toronto (Rotman) and Columbia Business School fared nearly as well, with applications rising by 17% and 14% clips respectively.
University of Oxford (Saïd): Calling 2016 a smashing success at Saïd would be an understatement. Looking for a diverse cohort? Saïd’s 2017 Class enrolled 36% women and 94% international students, the highest rate of any top tier international MBA program in either category. At the same time, the school climbed to third in Poets&Quants’ international MBA ranking, leapfrogging esteemed programs like Cambridge, IESE , and IMD in the process.
BYU (Marriott): Afraid of drowning in debt after graduation? Head west…as in Provo, Utah. At Marriott, MBAs came away with just a $54,704, while earning nearly $110,000 within three years of graduation. Talk about a strong selling point! It’ll become even more compelling as it continues its steady climb in the rankings, shooting up nine spots to 34th in the Poets&Quants ranking (a placement that would’ve been even better had it been ranked by The Economist.