Ranking That Measures MBA ROI Gets An Update — And A New No. 1

In March, Poets&Quants reported on a new ranking of leading MBA programs in the United States that measures return on a student’s investment. The ranking was developed by Georgia Tech Scheller College of Business based on the cost of attendance and graduates’ starting salaries at the top 30 B-schools in U.S. News & World Report’s annual ranking.

The Scheller College’s list calculates an MBA-salary-to-tuition ratio by comparing the median starting salary for the Class of 2022 and total out-of-state tuition/fees for two years of residential MBA study, with data sourced from the schools themselves. Now, with the release April 25 of the new U.S. News ranking, Georgia Tech has updated its ROI ranking — and there are some significant changes.

The biggest: There’s a new No. 1 school for the best value, and it’s Georgia Tech itself.

Don’t smirk. The number crunching is real, even if this is a short-term look at ROI that doesn’t begin to truly measure the worth of the degree over a lifetime of earnings. When you take the long view, some of the schools that appear very favorable on this list are a bit less so over the long haul. The lifetime median cash pay for an MBA from a Top Ten business schools earns more than $8 million, compared to $5.7 million for the MBA from a Top 50 program (see The MBA Premium: What MBAs Earn Over A Lifetime).


In any case, the Scheller College originally ranked second on its own list behind the University of Florida’s Warrington College of Business, but because Florida dropped from 29th last year to 40th in U.S. News‘ new ranking, it did not qualify for Scheller’s updated list. Too bad because Warrington College’s salary-to-tuition ratio was an impressive 1.92: Class of 2022 graduates of Warrington’s Hough MBA made a median starting salary of $117,500 after paying out-of-state tuition of just over $60K.

With Florida out of the ROI ranking, Georgia Tech, ranked 26th by U.S. News this year, took the top spot. The Scheller College achieved a score of 1.62, beating out No. 27 University of Rochester Simon Business School (1.53) and No. 20 the University of Washington Foster School of Business (1.28). Georgia Tech’s MBA Class of 2022 reported an average starting salary of $136,819, and the school charges tuition of $84,516.

The Scheller College’s ranking also includes the percentage of grads at each school who reported receiving job offers after three months, and in this category, Georgia Tech is unmatched — and unmatchable — with a 100% job offer rate for the Class of 2022.

The top three schools in U.S. News‘ new ranking, Chicago Booth School of Business, Northwestern Kellogg School of Management, and the Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, did not fare as well on the Scheller College’s ROI list: Chicago Booth, with a score of 1.09, is 10th; Northwestern Kellogg, with a score of 1.00, is 25th; and Wharton is 18th with 1.04. Booth and Wharton boast MBA starting salaries of $175K, and Kellogg’s is nearly as impressive at $165K, but all three also have tuition of more than $160K.

* Median starting salary data not available, mean starting salary data is used
† Class of 2022 data not available, Class of 2021 data is used
‡ Median starting salary and Class of 2021 data is used
§ % received offer data not available, % accepted offer data is used


In all, 24 of 30 schools in Georgia Tech’s updated ROI ranking offer an even ratio or better. The bottom three on the list: Yale School of Management, ranked No. 8 by U.S. News; UNC Chapel Hill’s Kenan-Flagler Business School, ranked 22nd; and Texas-Dallas Jindal School of Management, ranked 27th. See below for the full ranking.

As P&Q reported in March, the Scheller College’s ranking doesn’t take into account many important factors for applicants, such as scholarships, in-state residency, individual career goals, and crucially, acceptance rates for these leading programs. Like most quantitative lists, it also neglects the all-important “name” factor: that graduating from Stanford or Wharton or Harvard or Kellogg will open doors that might otherwise remain closed (or that have to be pried open by other means). And since it’s one school posting data about peers, there’s always the danger of misrepresentation.

But the MBA-salary-to-tuition ratio tool can be a handy starting place for would-be applicants, showing that at least as far as salary goes, smaller programs can be just as beneficial to careers — or more so — as the Stanfords, Whartons, and Harvards of the world.

“There are many factors that are important in making an MBA program decision,” Dave Deiters, associate dean of MBA programs and the Scheller College’s Jones MBA Career Center, tells Poets&Quants. “Some are subjective and personal, while others are more objective. The MBA-salary-to-tuition ratio provides a straightforward, quantitative snapshot for prospective students to use in comparing the financial value of various programs.”

See the Scheller MBA-salary-to-tuition ranking here.


Comments or questions about this article? Email us.