Monday, May 2, 2011

Are Harvard and Stanford the best MBA deal?

I decided to dig a little deeper into the numbers on the "top 5" business schools last night.  I pulled student budgets for each to get a better look at cost, averaged their rankings, and pulled in the debt numbers from the Poets and Quants article. Here's what I came up with:

School Tuition and Fees Health Insurance  Room and Board  Books and Supplies  Total  Average Rank Average Debt
Haas* $47,637 $2,010 $20,226 $2,500 $72,373 10.75 $73,186
Kellogg $51,495 $2,466 $19,617 $1,647 $75,225 11.5 $87,256
Tuck $50,700 $11,340** $11,550 $3,765 $66,015 10.25 $96,292
Sloan $52,900 $4,660 $20,496 $1,836 $79,892 8.75 NA***
Booth $55,872 $2,466 $23,250 $2,100 $83,688 4.75 $79,539
Harvard $52,386 $1,834 $23,390 $6,390 $84,000 2.75 $73,110
Stanford $56,022 $3,903 $23,328 $3,828 $87,081 4.25 $71,403
Wharton $58,244 $2,974 $25,982 $2,000 $89,200 3.75 $109,836

Man, if I believed in rankings at face value, there are two clear winners here: Harvard and Stanford.  Some of the best rankings AND the least debt.  Pretty good combination.

The other interesting thing to look at is that average rank and total cost are inversely correlated.  It could be that the demand for the best business schools is higher so they can charge more or charge more to maintain exclusivity.  Or instead higher ranking business schools have more successful alumni who contribute more to the school's endowment allowing the school to charge less.  Oddly, the correlation is not as tight for tuition and rank, the main exception being Harvard.

Overall the numbers look pretty similar though; I would have expected more variation across categories and in total.  I suppose this is a pretty small and homogeneous group of schools, but they cover a wide range in areas so I would have expected at least a wider range in cost of living.  This table does make the amount of student loan debt at Wharton look even more impressive. 

I don't think this is enough information to quantify the value of a school though.  Certainly average starting salary and percentage of graduates with job offers are two pieces of data that are readily available and would significantly contribute to a measurement of value.  What would be other quantifiable factors in a school's value? Or is the value of the school highly dependent on the student?

*Out of state
**Includes miscellaneous expenses.  In other schools this was included under room and board
***No data on debt when graduating from Sloan

Student budgets by school:
Booth - UChicago
Harvard Business School
Wharton - UPenn
Kellogg - Northwestern
Sloan - MIT
Tuck - Darthmouth
Haas - UC Berkeley

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