Comparing Business School Prices & Expenses in 2020

Written by: Kristyn Pilgrim
Updated: 1/24/20

Most students want to harness the power of their education to become successful. Whether you want to start your own business or work for a Fortune 500 company, a master’s degree in business administration (MBA) is a great tool for success in this broad field. Even if you do not go into business, an MBA can help with dozens of other industries because of the degree program’s leadership training and graduates’ enhanced understanding of the financial and business worlds.

Specialists in higher education, Quacquarelli Symonds (QS), release annual surveys of the best business education and higher-education schools in the world. The United States has several schools that rank well every year, and this is especially true for business schools.

The leading U.S. business schools are also some of the most expensive. Understanding and comparing business school prices can help you understand not only where you might want to apply, but also how you want to manage your career after graduation.

According to QS, these are the top 10 business schools in the U.S.:

  1. Stanford Graduate School of Business: Located in Stanford, California, this graduate school ranks an impressive No. 1 on the QS MBA rankings — both in the United States and the world.

    A degree from Stanford will cost just over $141,000 in tuition alone. However, students are bound to spend significantly more than the cost of tuition, considering California is the second most expensive state to live in.
  2. Harvard Business School: Famous for high-quality education in several undergraduate and graduate degree fields, this Ivy League school ranks second in the QS international business schools list.

    A business degree from Harvard will cost about $147,000. However, with a 100% employability score, students not only find jobs quickly but also earn an average salary of $137,000 just three months post-graduation.
  3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton): Ranking No. 3 out of all the MBA programs in both the U.S. and the world, the Wharton School has offered high-quality education for business professionals for decades.

    As of 2019, the cost of attending the Wharton School is roughly $158,000 in tuition alone. Living in a larger city will increase your cost of living, and the listed price does not include any other school fees.
  4. MIT Sloan School of Management: MIT’s Sloan School of Management, famous for its technology-focused education programs, puts students at the forefront of modern business practices that use high-quality hardware and new software options like artificial intelligence.

    Obtaining a degree from the Sloan School of Management can cost upwards of $148,000.
  5. The University of Chicago Booth School of Business: With high employability and thought leadership scores, the University of Chicago’s Booth School of Business ranks fifth in the U.S. and eighth in the world, tied with the IE Business School in Madrid, Spain.

    For a 21-month program (compared to the standard 24-months), attending the Booth School of Business will cost $144,000.
  6. Columbia Business School: This private school in New York City is world-renowned for strict qualifications for acceptance and graduation, along with impressive professors and administrators who guide students to push themselves to their best performance. QS ranks Columbia Business School sixth in the U.S. and tenth in the world.

    Tuition at the school runs about $148,000.
  7. University of California at Los Angeles (Anderson): Backed by powerful alumni (including CEO of Youtube, Susan Wojcicki), UCLA’s Anderson School of Management ranks seventh in the U.S. and 11th worldwide, with high employability and thought leadership scores.

    Tuition for the 22-month program will run you about $130,000, but be mindful of the higher cost of living associated with Los Angeles.
  8. Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management: Northwestern University is a private school located in a suburb of Chicago. Students benefit from a beautiful campus with great proximity to additional work and educational opportunities in the large midwestern city.

    Attending the Kellogg School of Management will cost around $138,000. The school ranks 14th on the QS Global MBA list but is the eighth-best MBA program in the U.S.
  9. University of Michigan (Ross): With a 20-month program, the University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business ranks ninth in the U.S. and 15th in the world. The school was one of the highest-scoring for return on investment, with students making an average of $123,500 just three months post-graduation.

    Attending the school will cost just a bit more than students can expect to make — tuition fees amount to $125,000.
  10. Yale School of Management:Graduates of this prestigious institution not only have a good-looking degree on their resume, but they also have connections to dozens of other prestigious institutions for internships and careers. Attending the Yale School of Management means you, as a student, have access to some of the leading business and management educators in the word, as QS ranks Yale at No. 16 internationally.

    Attending the tenth best MBA program in the U.S will cost you around $139,000.

While you can certainly get an amazing business and management education at other institutions, including your local state school or community college, holding a degree from these prestigious institutions will carry you farther in the business world than it might in other career fields. Finding a way to afford the school of your choice is crucial to getting a great education and being able to pay it off later. 

Financial Help From Student Loans Can Reduce Your Overall School Costs

Considering tuition costs is one way to understand which business school you should apply to – and attend. Unlike many other career tracks, a degree in business from the right school gives you an impressive seal of approval and great connections within your field of expertise.

To reduce costs, consider attending business school part-time. Many MBA program attendees choose a part-time option for financial reasons, or because they want to work in a professional setting while also getting a high-quality education.

You could also work for a large company to begin getting experience in the business world and then take advantage of financial incentives toward higher education if they offer this as a benefit.

Like any other education program, you should also explore scholarships, grant programs, work-study options, and student loans. Fill out the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA), so schools understand your financial standing. Schools can then offer financial assistance packages, which significantly reduce the upfront cost of improving your career – and your life.