3 Hidden Costs Of Business School

The average total cost of an MBA from a top-25 B-school lands at $199,544—an increase of roughly $4,000 from 2020.

That cost isn’t going down anytime soon. Tuition, while certainty the largest expense, is only a portion of the total cost, however. Fortune’s Mary Lowengard, recently discussed a few surprising expenses that play into the high out-of-pocket cost of an MBA education.


One of the main reasons why people pursue an MBA education is to make important connections.

“At the end of the day, it’s about shared experiences, and these trips create strong enduring relationships,” Lex Zhao, an MBA grad of the University of Chicago Booth School of Business, tells Fortune.

Those shared experiences, however, can add up in cost. According to WeTravel, a platform for trip organizers founded in 2015 by three Berkeley Haas grads, 2019 MBAs spent nearly $21,300 for 13 trips over the course of two years. However, these trips, in many ways, are the core value of the MBA experience.

“I would say the travel was one of the primary value propositions offered by our program,” Zhou tells Fortune. “Anyone can pick up a textbook or explore business theory online. These trips offer a ton of value you can’t get anywhere else.”


Another aspect of the MBA experience is clubs and organizations.

“Not at all in the same five-figure league as travel expenses, but still significantly expensive, several recent MBAs mentioned an unanticipated cost was club dues,” Lowengard writes. “These grads describe club dues of $100 and up, which could total $1,000 or more depending on the number of groups a student joins. Joining clubs is typically viewed as a necessary expense as it helps students learn how to make themselves more attractive to recruiters and offers valuable networking opportunities.”


Having a car isn’t necessary at many B-schools, but for those who do choose to drive, the costs can add up quickly. Many campuses offer limited on-campus parking with hefty fees. At UCLA, where on-campus parking spaces are sparce, students used to be able to enter a lottery to secure parking.

“But then, if you won a spot through the lottery, the school rubbed salt in the wound with a ridiculous—it seemed to me at the time—quarterly parking fee,” David Whelan, a 2002 grad of UCLA Anderson, tells Fortune.

Sources: Fortune, Poets&Quants

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