Last year, Dartmouth College Tuck School of Business had the highest MBA tuition of any top-25 business school in the United States — and therefore, in the world. At $77,500, Tuck’s tuition was just a few dollars more than a pair of M7 schools, Columbia Business School and MIT Sloan School of Management, both of which had already frozen tuition in 2020; and a few thousand dollars higher than the rest of the M7: Northwestern Kellogg, Stanford Graduate School of Business, UPenn Wharton, and Harvard Business School.
Given the small margins with its peers, Dartmouth Tuck is likely to shed the distinction of “highest MBA tuition in the world” this fall, because the school announced earlier this month that it has frozen tuition for the 2021-2022 year.
“Our ongoing commitment to scholarship support, review and reimbursement of eligible student fees, and the freezing of tuition reflect decisions of school leaders who are both mindful of costs and confident in the proven ROI of a Tuck MBA,” spokesperson Lindsey Walter tells Poets&Quants.
TUCK CLASS OF 2022 SAW 97.4% INCREASE IN SCHOLARSHIPS
As reported in the New Hampshire Union Leader, Dartmouth College in September announced that its endowment was more than $6 billion, highest in school history. “President Phil Hanlon had said the school’s endowment lost significant value during last year’s Covid-19 stock market crash,” the Union Leader reported March 10, “yet the endowment saw a 7.6% return on investment despite the rocky market.”
Dartmouth’s Board of Trustees set next year’s tuitions at Dartmouth’s schools at its annual spring meeting March 4-5. While undergraduate tuition, fees, and room and board rose 2% to $78,010, tuition at the Tuck School was set at the same rate. In a statement, Tuck Dean Matt Slaughter said the school “is assessing new ways it can deliver its personal, connected, and transformative MBA experience in the post-pandemic world; considering possible paths forward for profitable growth; and enhancing its financial resilience through zero-based budgeting.”
Tuck has been mindful of student costs amid the pandemic, during which the majority of instruction has been remote, Walter says.
“Throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Tuck has reimbursed for student fees including TuckGO program fees, student activity fees, and eligible dining balances,” she tells P&Q. But the school’s consideration of student financial needs did not begin in 2020, she adds.
AS MANY IN-PERSON CLASSES IN 2021 ‘AS PUBLIC HEALTH GUIDANCE WILL ALLOW’
“Long before the pandemic, in the early days of The Tuck Difference campaign, school leadership targeted historic investment in student scholarship support,” Walter says. “Notably, this support has allowed Tuck to double the number of scholarships it now awards. For example, students in the Tuck Class of 2022 experience a 97.4% increase in the number of scholarships awarded compared to the number of scholarships awarded to the Class of 2020. Tuck scholarships range from $10,000 to full tuition. The average Tuck scholarship for the Class of 2022 is $29,290.”
Does Tuck’s tuition freeze signify that the school anticipates continued remote and hybrid learning, even as the end of the coronavirus pandemic is in sight?
“We’re focused on our hybrid spring term ahead and maximizing its potential for our soon graduating T’21s,” Walter says, “and we’re preparing for a fall term that offers as many in-person classes and co-curricular opportunities as public health guidance will allow.”
Tuck MBAs return next week from spring break when they will resume hybrid classes, with professors teaching in-person, Walter says. The school anticipates that a third of the courses offered during spring 2021 term will be hybrid; she adds that classroom seat allocations will continue for all Tuck courses in the spring, allowing students “to be present in classrooms together even when instruction is delivered remotely.”
TOTAL COST ACTUALLY WENT DOWN AT DARTMOUTH TUCK IN 2020
While Dartmouth Tuck had the highest MBA tuition last year, Stanford had the highest cost of living — nearly $34K annually for a single person. Though eight schools froze tuition for the 2020 coronavirus intake, including Harvard for the third year in a row, overall cost continued to creep upward, and the $200K club — schools that charge that much or more for two years of graduate business education — grew once again. Thirteen schools are now in that rarefied club, up from a dozen in 2019 and nine in 2018, after the University of Virginia Darden School of Business grew its costs by about 3% to reach a two-year total of $200,644. Four more schools are knocking on the door with more than $190K in tuition, fees, room and board, and other costs over two years.
Leading all schools in total cost in 2020, as it did the previous year, was MIT Sloan School of Management, where an MBA for those who began classes last fall will cost an estimated $241,692 by the time they cross the stage (hopefully in person) in 2022. MIT was followed by NYU Stern School of Business ($238,502), Stanford Graduate School of Business ($237,288), Columbia Business School ($235,266), and Dartmouth Tuck, where cost totals an estimated $224,000. Tuck’s number actually represented a 2.6% decrease from 2019, though it was up 7.5% over four years.
Overall, the average cost to attend a top-25 MBA program in the U.S. for two years starting in 2020 is $195,416, up 0.7% from $194,031 in 2019. However, that is a rebound from the two-year period between 2018 and 2019, when the average actually decreased by 1%. (The average total cost at the top 25 in 2018 was $196,067; in 2017, $185,747.) So when it comes to how much new MBA candidates are paying to attend an elite U.S. B-school, a worldwide pandemic didn’t help their wallets, despite the continued online delivery of many programs.
How do these costs compare with the MBA program at INSEAD? At what is Europe’s No. 1-ranked business school, tuition totals $103,626, while living expenses come to $28,356 at the Fontainebleau campus in France or $32,250 at the Singapore campus. So the program total comes to $131,982 in Europe or $135,876 in Asia — considerably less than most of the top schools in the U.S., until you consider that INSEAD’s program is only 10 months long.