Which MBAs provide the best return on investment?

Given the time and financial investment required for a MBA degree, prospective students should look into return on investment for each of the options being considered.

Emolument.com has analysed 1,020 salary data of MBA holders who graduated in 2011, 2012 and 2013 to calculate the return on investment and highest earnings 3-5 years after graduation.

USA ahead of the game

RankSchoolMedian SalaryMedian BonusTotal Compensation
1Chicago Booth School of Business£114,000£53,000£167,000
2Columbia Business School£114,000£46,000£160,000
3Judge Business School£117,000£39,000£156,000
4Harvard Business School£106,000£36,000£142,000
5Wharton School£104,000£30,000£134,000
6Stern School of Business£106,000£27,000£133,000
7Kellogg School of Management£106,000£19,000£125,000
8Johnson Cornell University£96,000£19,000£115,000
10Ross School of Business£94,000£10,000£104,000
11London Business School£86,000£17,000£103,000
13Warwick Business School£82,000£5,000£87,000
14Manchester Business School£74,000£10,000£84,000
15Said Business School£75,000£8,000£83,000
16HEC Paris£71,000£8,000£79,000
19Cass Business School£60,000£10,000£70,000
21Baruch College£64,000£4,000£68,000
23Hult International Business School£49,000£3,000£52,000

Chicago Booth School of Business holds the first place on the table, thanks to relatively high bonuses. As expected, eight American institutions feature in the top 10, but Cambridge gets a very honourable third place and France still manages to hold ninth place with INSEAD. Oxford is further down the list in 15th place. A larger proportion of Cambridge MBA graduates work abroad - especially in New York, Hong Kong and Singapore - while Oxford MBA graduates are more likely to remain in the UK earning less than their American peers.

Best ROI1?


RankSchoolTotal CompensationCost of the MBAROI
1Chicago Booth£167,000£51,0002.3
2Warwick Business School£87,000£35,6001.4
4Baruch College£68,000£32,2501.1
5Manchester Business School£84,000£41,0001.0
8Cass Business School£70,000£39,5000.8
10HEC Paris£79,000£48,1420.6
11Said Business School£83,000£52,0000.6
12Judge Business School£156,000£100,9100.5
13Columbia Business School£160,000£104,3250.5
14Harvard Business School£142,000£96,5650.5
15London Business School£103,000£70,8000.5
17Stern School of Business£133,000£100,9820.3
19Kellogg School of Management£125,000£100,7910.2
20Johnson Cornell University£115,000£93,3940.2
22Wharton School£134,000£112,2230.2
24Ross School of Business£104,000£97,8160.1
25Hult Business School£52,000£53,0780.0

Chicago Booth School of Business tops the table thanks to relatively low tuition fees. The low fees also push Warwick Business School, NUS and Baruch College up the table. Columbia and Harvard on the other hand are expensive which impacts their performance on our ROI table. NYU, Cornell, Manchester and HEC offer two-year courses, which hurts their ROI considerably.

Is finance and high pay correlated? Not always

RankSchoolTotal Compensation% Working in finance
1Said Business School£83,00065%
3Chicago Booth£167,00052%
6Judge Business school£156,00047%
7Cass Business school£70,00043%
8Wharton School£134,00040%
10Johnson Cornell University£115,00037%
13Ross School of Business£104,00036%
16Kellogg School of Management£125,00029%
18Zicklin School of Business£68,00029%
25University of Wales£40,00021%
28IIM Lucknow£25,00020%
30HEC Paris£79,00019%
31Warwick Business School£87,00016%
33Manchester Business School£84,00013%

A linear regression between the percentage of MBA graduates working in finance and their salaries shows that there is a strong correlation. Yet while a large proportion of Said Business School graduates work in finance, their salaries remain lower than those of Cambridge graduates who are more likely to work in higher paying front office job on the one hand, and in higher paying locations (USA, Hong Kong) on the other.

Expanding your network: the real investment

While choosing to pursue a MBA degree usually carries a desire to either change career path, or turbo-charge an existing job - or in some cases, both - a key attraction to the MBA experience is the prospect of expanding professional and personal networks. MBAs provide a strong financial boost, but most alumni are more likely to emphasise the friendships and opportunities as the ultimate return on their investment.


Emolument provides bonus and salary statistics based on data submitted directly by professionals like you. It is free, anonymous, and already a trusted tool for thousands of professionals worldwide. Are you paid enough? Click here to find out now.

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