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Report Ranks the Top MBA Programs for 2019

We haven't discussed graduate programs very often here, although they are an important part of College Confidential's discussion forum. Back in the day, I was accepted to graduate school twice, once immediately following my undergraduate degree program and again 20 years later. Both times, though, my enrollment was derailed by life's circumstances. I've often thought about giving it a third try but it's a bit late now, in my view.


The MBA application season is underway, so I would like to share some information sent to me by my friends at WalletHub, who produce the latest and most interesting reports about various aspects of higher education. In their latest report, financial writer Adam McCann ranks 2019's Best MBA Programs in both listings and videos.

To determine where students can receive the best education with the best return on investment, WalletHub compared 92 MBA programs across 10 key indicators of cost and quality. The dataset ranges from average base salary and tuition to gender diversity, ratings from professors and average GMAT score. The report's introduction tells us the following:

Students who pursue MBA degrees tend to do very well financially, with the average salary for a recent graduate at around $150,000. Even though tuition can be expensive, over $70,000 per year at some top schools, the return on investment for an MBA program is usually very high. For example, the Princeton Review estimates that Stanford University's 10-year ROI for MBA graduates is 325 percent.

In addition, MBA programs can provide a host of other benefits for students. Students report increased confidence in their skills, the ability to put their knowledge to work in new industries, and better networking capabilities.

Not all MBA programs are equal, however. The ideal program provides the combination of a high return on investment, quality instruction, and a good personal experience

If you're wondering about the methodology used to create these rankings, WalletHub comments:

In order to determine the best MBA programs in the U.S., WalletHub selected a sample of 92 schools that offer full-time MBA programs from the list of member institutions in the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business International. Due to data limitations, we were not able to include all member schools. Please note that the AACSB is not affiliated whatsoever with WalletHub and was used strictly as an informational resource.

We evaluated the schools based on three key dimensions: 1) Return on Investment, 2) Student Selectivity & Program Quality, and 3) Campus Experience. We constructed the three dimensions using 10 total metrics, each grouped with related metrics in the appropriate category and listed below with its corresponding weight. We graded each metric on a 100-point scale, with a score of 100 representing best MBA program.

Finally, we determined each school's weighted average across all metrics to calculate its overall score and used the resulting scores to rank-order our sample.

Note: The career stats are for the Class of 2018. The incoming stats are for the Class of 2020

Check How ROI Was Calculated

Next, you'll find the rationale for scoring Return on Investment (ROI), Student Selectivity and Program Quality, and, finally, Campus Experience. There's also a community discussion section where you may post your thoughts or questions. Don't miss the very helpful Ask the Experts section. MBA programs can be incredibly expensive, so it's a good idea to get a handle on their benefits and drawbacks before applying. Accordingly, you can click on the experts' pictures to read their bios and see their responses to the following key questions:

- Is an MBA program worth the investment?

- Would an MBA program offer candidates a competitive advantage in the job market?

- Would you advise graduates to pursue further education or gain experience in the respective field?

- Are MBA programs an efficient way for international students to gain access to the U.S. job market?

These Are the Top 25 MBA Programs

Now let's take a look at the rankings. Here are the top 25 MBA programs, according to WalletHub.

Please see the report's charts for full numerical ranking data.

  1. Stanford University
  2. Harvard University
  3. University of Pennsylvania (Wharton)
  4. University of Chicago (Booth)
  5. Massachusetts Institute of Technology (Sloan)
  6. University of California--Berkeley (Haas)
  7. Northwestern University (Kellogg)
  8. University of Southern California (Marshall)
  9. Columbia University
  10. Yale University
  11. University of Michigan--Ann Arbor (Ross)
  12. University of Washington (Foster)
  13. Duke University (Fuqua)
  14. New York University (Stern)
  15. University of Virginia (Darden)
  16. Dartmouth College (Tuck)
  17. Indiana University (Kelley)
  18. University of California--Los Angeles (Anderson)
  19. University of Wisconsin--Madison
  20. Georgetown University (McDonough)
  21. Cornell University (Johnson)
  22. Washington University in St. Louis (Olin)
  23. Rice University (Jones)
  24. University of Florida (Warrington)
  25. Brigham Young University (Marriott)

Following the ranked 92 MBA programs are seven very helpful categories that list the Highest and Lowest:

- Base salary for graduates of these programs.

- Employment rate.

- Total tuition and fees.

- Average GMAT scores.

- GPA scores

- Gender diversity

- Average years of work

Some highest/lowest highlights:

- Stanford University has the highest average base salary, $145,559, which is 2.7 times higher than at Northern Arizona University (Franke), which has the lowest at $53,778.

- Iowa State University and University of Louisville both have the highest employment rate (share of class that accepted offers within three months after graduation) at 100 percent, which is 1.7 times higher than at University of San Diego and University of Delaware (Lerner), which have the lowest at 60 percent.

- Iowa State University has the lowest total tuition and fees, $12,914, which is 6.1 times lower than at Columbia University, which has the highest at $79,209.

- Stanford University, Columbia University, University of Miami, University of Pennsylvania (Wharton) and Northwestern University (Kellogg), all have the highest average GMAT score (732), which is 1.5 times higher than at Howard University, which has the lowest at 485.

- CUNY Bernard M. Baruch College (Zicklin) has the highest gender diversity, which is 1.5 times higher than at Texas A&M University-College Station (Mays).

- University of Kentucky (Gatton) has the fewest average years of work experience, 1.2, which is 5.5 fewer than at University of Maryland-College Park (Smith), which has the most at 6.6.

Thus, if you're on the hunt for a graduate program or just wondering about them, this WalletHub survey report will be one-stop shopping in an easy-to-read, well-illustrated, thoroughly researched format. I may even take a deeper look. The third time could be the charm for me.