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 Business114,00053,000167,000
2Columbia Business School114,00046,000160,000
3Judge Business School117,00039,000156,000
4Harvard Business School106,00036,000142,000
5Wharton School104,00030,000134,000
6Stern School of Business106,00027,000133,000
7Kellogg School of Management106,00019,000125,000
8Johnson Cornell University96,00019,000115,000
10Ross School of Business94,00010,000104,000
11London Business School86,00017,000103,000
13Warwick Business School82,0005,00087,000
14Manchester Business School74,00010,00084,000
15Said Business School75,0008,00083,000
16HEC Paris71,0008,00079,000
19Cass Business School60,00010,00070,000
21Baruch College64,0004,00068,000
23Hult International Business School49,0003,00052,000

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 Booth167,00051,0002.3
2Warwick Business School87,00035,6001.4
4Baruch College68,00032,2501.1
5Manchester Business School84,00041,0001.0
8Cass Business School70,00039,5000.8
10HEC Paris79,00048,1420.6
11Said Business School83,00052,0000.6
12Judge Business School156,000100,9100.5
13Columbia Business School160,000104,3250.5
14Harvard Business School142,00096,5650.5
15London Business School103,00070,8000.5
17Stern School of Business133,000100,9820.3
19Kellogg School of Management125,000100,7910.2
20Johnson Cornell University115,00093,3940.2
22Wharton School134,000112,2230.2
24Ross School of Business104,00097,8160.1
25Hult Business School52,00053,0780.0

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 School83,00065%
3Chicago Booth167,00052%
6Judge Business school156,00047%
7Cass Business school70,00043%
8Wharton School134,00040%
10Johnson Cornell University115,00037%
13Ross School of Business104,00036%
16Kellogg School of Management125,00029%
18Zicklin School of Business68,00029%
25University of Wales40,00021%
28IIM Lucknow25,00020%
30HEC Paris79,00019%
31Warwick Business School87,00016%
33Manchester Business School84,00013%

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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