On the other end of the ROI spectrum is Davenport University’s Maine College of Business, headquartered in Grand Rapids, Michigan. The private university, which features multiple versions of an MBA including an accelerated year-long program and a “Competency Based” MBA, had an average reported salary of $82,344, but an average debt of $151,070 — much higher than all other programs with SoFi data published. The result was an ROI score of .5x. Up next was Strayer University, which offers an online MBA, which scored .8x. Graduates of the Strayer online program reported an average salary of $76,870 and average debt of $98,490. Next was Colorado Technical University’s online MBA program. The for-profit university based in Colorado Springs had graduates report earning $75,923 and compiling a debt load of $83,050.
SoFi’s list is of course not the only one on the market with similar data. Late last summer U.S. News & World Report also published a similar report with 2016 salary and debt data among MBA programs. Using the exact same calculation as SoFi, the U.S. News gave the best ROI nod to MBA graduates of the University of Texas-Austin’s McCombs School of Business with a score of 1.9x. Graduates of the full-time MBA program at McCombs reported an average salary of $113,481 and average debt total of $59,860. Stanford GSB had the second-highest ROI score at 1.8x, where 2016 graduates reported earning $140,553 and accumulated a debt average of $80,091. Harvard Business School and Emory University’s Goizueta School of Business each notched a 1.6x ROI score and UCLA’s Anderson School of Management rounded out the U.S. News top five with an ROI score of 1.5x.
Another potential caveat to the SoFi rankings is the wide fluctuations in salaries compared to last year’s rankings. For example, Wharton’s $224,034 is a massive jump from the $171,671 in last year’s report. Graduates of HBS reported making the next highest year-over-year gains, jumping an average of more than $34K from $149,925 last year to $184,463 this year. Stanford GSB, Berkeley’s Haas, Northwestern’s Kellogg, and Cornell’s Johnson had all their graduates report at least $20,000 in higher average salaries from 2017 to 2018.
While the average salaries seem to generally reflect mid-career averages, Wharton’s average this year seems to be inflated. According to Payscale data that P&Q published nearly two years ago, HBS grads made $201,000 on average at mid-career — more than any other school. Next was Columbia Business School with $184,000 at mid-career, followed by graduates of MIT Sloan that reported an average of $183,000. Wharton was next at $181,000.
Last year’s rankings included loan applications between January 2014 to September 2016, where as this year went from January 2014 but stretched all the way to last December (2017).