No other school offers a better bang for your buck than the University of Wisconsin School of Business, according to data published today (February 5) by SoFi. For the second year in a row, the student loan refinancing company, founded by a team of Stanford Graduate School of Business MBAs, tracked three years’ worth of data from applications submitted by MBA graduates, including average salary and debt. SoFi then conducted a basic salary-to-debt ratio to score and rank business schools based on that ratio, calling it the “No BS” Return on Education 2018 MBA. Last year the University of Wisconsin finished fourth, where graduates reported an average salary of $109,954 and average debt of $59,864, for an ROI score of 1.8x. This year, Wisconsin surged to the top with an average salary of $122,532 and average debt of $52,568 for an ROI score of 2.3x.
Last year’s winner, Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business, also notched an ROI score of 2.3x, but was placed second based on the average starting salary of $114,599 and an average debt of $50,224. The discrepancy, of course, is due to SoFi rounding the average salary divided by average debt. When not rounding to the first digit after the decimal, Wisconsin scores a 2.33x and BYU lands at 2.28x.
While the first two spots went to a public school and a private school with notorious low tuition costs and solid scholarships, two MBA heavyweights took the next two spots. Harvard Business School and Stanford GSB both had ROI scores at 2.2x; however, when rounded further, HBS got the nod with 2.21x to Stanford’s 2.18x. Average salaries and debt at both schools were close. Graduates from HBS reported an average salary of $184,463 to Stanford’s $186,534. Reported debt at HBS was $83,337 compared to $85,433 at Stanford.
Villanova’s School of Business rounded out the top five, finishing just off Stanford with an ROI score of 2.17x, although SoFi listed it as 2.1x in the published data.
The averaged data is based on more than 60,000 SoFi loan applications from MBA graduates between January 2014 and December 2017. To be clear, the data does not necessarily reflect graduates between that time, but graduates that chose to submit a SoFi loan application during that time frame, which is why average salaries are generally higher than career reports published by schools.
The data also sheds some interesting light on average salary and debt being reported by MBA graduates. For example, graduates of the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School MBA program self-reported an average salary of $224,034 — higher than any other school that had specific data published by SoFi. Whartonites, however, also reported more debt than any other peer school with an average of $128,549. Although, graduates of Virginia’s Darden School of Business reported $138,667.
Graduates of Columbia Business School reported the second-highest average salary at $189,295. As reported earlier, graduates at the GSB and HBS reported the next highest average salaries at $186,534 and $184,463, respectively. The University of California-Berkeley Haas School of Business rounded out the top five where graduates reported earning an average salary of $171,270. UC-Berkeley was the only public school in the top ten of average salaries. The University of Virginia’s Darden School had the second largest average salary among the publics with $154,902.
After Darden and Wharton, graduates of Columbia Business School reported the third highest debt average at $123,277. Next highest came from graduates of the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business and Duke’s Fuqua School of Business, which reported average debt totals of $109,451 and $109,073, respectively.