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The 15 Best Value MBA Programs | Financial Times

An MBA is expensive and can mean putting your job on hold while you study. But it's also a long-term career investment. We list the best value MBA programs and best for ROI

By  Business Because

Mon May 1 2023

For many prospective MBA students, landing a job with a good wage and paying off their student debt quickly are essential factors when applying for business school.

High MBA tuition fees, and pressure to stay in work to continue earning, mean MBA candidates are more discerning about the flagship management qualification.

Calculating the return on investment (ROI) of business school is vital when weighing up your options. Each year, the Financial Times Global MBA Ranking lists the world’s 100 best business schools. 

The FT also tots up schools’ 'value for money' rank, which is compiled using the salary of alumni today, course length, fees and other costs, including the opportunity cost of not working for the duration of the MBA.

Here we explore some of the best-value, full-time MBA programs currently available according to the FT 2023 MBA Ranking.

Best value MBA programs

The University of Massachusetts Amherst: Isenberg sits atop the FT's 2023 ranking for value for money, despite being ranked 69th overall. 

The school charges a resident tuition fee for its two-year MBA of $29,896, while non-residents pay $69,084; a relatively low amount considering the average cost of a top MBA program.

The ranking's metric for 'salary today' is the average salary for students three years after graduating. Amherst: Isenberg's MBAs earn an average salary today of $131,266, a wage almost double the cost of the program’s entire tuition fee for non-residents of the state. 

Behind Amherst: Isenberg in second place is University of Florida: Warrington who came in first for value for money the past two years. Warrington's resident tuition fee is $26,473 while non-residents pay $61,260, both lower than Amherst: Isenberg. Its weighted salary is also higher at $135,921. The positioning is possible due to the diversity of the class as Amherst: Isenberg has a higher percentage of both international and female students. 

Top MBAs For Value For Money

See the FT’s full rankings table

This year the US and Europe saw an even split of best value MBAs within the top 15, with seven coming from the states and seven coming from Europe, if you count the Insead's French campus. This is a slight shift from previous years where Europe dominated the best value MBA table. Only a few MBA programs' weighted salary were creeping towards the $200k mark with most sitting between $100k and $150k. 

Only two schools based outside of Europe and the US. Shanghai University of Finance and Economics: College of Business and the Singapore campus at INSEAD offer the 10th and 15th best value for money courses. 

MBA ROI: What will you earn?

The list shows many of the weighted salaries falling around the $130k mark, especially in the US. If salary is your driving force you might want to turn to the top European and Asian school. SDA Bocconi, Shanghai University of Finance and Economics, and INSEAD offer the highest MBA salaries post-graduation for the least upfront investment—the shorter, one-year program lengths mean students are out of work for less time and it therefore takes them less time to pay off their tuition fees.

INSEAD MBA graduates have the highest salaries of all the schools in the list, at $198,363. The INSEAD MBA is ranked the number two program in the world in the 2023 rankings, the school with the most number one spots, Wharton, was not included this year after failing to gather enough alumni survey responses. 

SDA Bocconi MBAs are close behind with the second highest salaries, earning $192,815 on average, reflecting their record sixth placed finish in the overall rankings in 2023. 

Shanghai University of Finance and Economics sees its grads take home on average $181,274. These top three salaries are well ahead of the rest of the pack with the next highest salary being $143,697 from Michigan State Broad--still impressive salary to be graduating into. 

With INSEAD and SDA Bocconi the only top 10 FT-ranked schools to appear in the FT’s value for money rankings, it is clear the highest ranked schools are not always the ones that offer the best value for money for MBAs. 

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Best Business Schools In The World | Financial Times MBA Ranking