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How Much Does A Top MBA Degree Cost?
What’s the most expensive two-year MBA program you can take? You might be surprised to learn it isn’t Harvard or Stanford, or Wharton or Chicago, or Dartmouth or Yale. Instead, priciest MBA is being sold by Columbia Business School. Columbia estimates that the cost of its two-year, full-time MBA program in New York is a whopping $168,307.
Harvard Business School Dean Nitin Nohria said earlier this week that the cost of a Harvard MBA is less than several other top rivals. “We are at the middle of the pack when it comes to the top ten schools,” he said in a wide-ranging interview with The Financial Times. By the estimates of the total cost of the degree posted on business school websites, he’s actually being somewhat conservative. Harvard comes in as the seventh most expensive MBA program among the top 20 U.S. business schools.
Not only is Columbia number one, but the school Columbia also ends up on another extreme end of this list of premium-priced degrees. Columbia reports the lowest percentage of MBA students who are receiving financial aid from the school–just 55%, well below the 81% at Duke, the 80% at Dartmouth, or the 75% at Stanford.
The total cost of the Columbia program includes two years worth of tuition, fees, books, and the estimated costs to live in New York City. But as often is the case, these numbers are often conservative. Yale’s School of Managment makes clear that its esimates assume a “modest lifestyle.” Cornell informs applicants on its website that its estimate of $11,250 a year for living expenses is “based on the cost of sharing a moderately priced apartment” at a cost of $700 a month rent and putting aside $425 a month for food.
Most MBAs at elite schools will
find it hard to live on that budget, especially in New York, Boston, Chicago, or San Francisco. Indeed, perhaps to make these estimates more believable to applicants, Cornell goes out of its way to note, “It is much easier to live like a student when you are a student than to live like a student when you are earning $90,000 annually. If you were to reduce your student loans from $50,000 to $40,000 you would save approximately $121 per month in student loan payments.”
TOTAL COST ESTIMATES ARE VERY CONSERVATIVE.
In almost all cases, these “total cost” numbers–taken from the school’s websites–are very conservative estimates. Wharton’s $168,000 pricetag, for example, fails to include the cost of its Global Immersion Program, which ranges from $5,800 to $7,800, or the inevitable cost to join clubs, attend conferences and “parties,” which Wharton estimates at $860 a year. Those two omissions alone add 6% to the total cost estimate of an MBA degree. Stanford’s estimate of the total cost of its MBA degree doesn’t include a required “global study tour” which costs about $4,000. In most cases, you can expect the “total cost estimate” to be 10% to 20% higher, given your lifestyle preferences and desire to take full advantage of the MBA experience.
The costs of non-U.S. MBA programs can vary widely, especially because in Europe one-year programs are especially popular. London Business School’s 21-month MBA program looks like a bargain if you believe the estimate: $134,152, with $77,854 of that going to pay tuition. The accelerated 10-month MBA program at INSEAD in Fontainebleau, France, costs just $102,714 (with about $73,000 of that for tuition). Of course, that’s the estimate from INSEAD for living expenses, food, and travel. Could you live in France on $30,000 over those ten months? Perhaps if you lived in a trailer or a tent.Source: poetsandquants.com