Forbes Announces Top MBA Rankings

Forbes has just released its biennial ranking of full-time MBA programs, with a methodology based solely on return on investment (ROI). Forbes compared the earnings of MBA grads in their first five years out of business school to their opportunity cost (two years of forgone compensation, tuition and required fees) to arrive at a “5-year M.B.A. Gain.”

Surveys went out to 17,000 alumni from 100 schools, and Forbes heard back from 27% of those grads. Salaries five years out of school were down from two years ago for all but two schools in the top 10, Forbes reports, with only Stanford Graduate School of Business and Michigan’s Ross School of Business bucking the trend.

Here’s a snapshot of the best-ranked programs, which compares salaries pre- and post-MBA:

Top 10 Best U.S. MBA Programs

1. Stanford Graduate School of Business

5-year MBA gain: $99,700
Pre-MBA salary: $80,000
2012 salary: $221,000

2. Chicago Booth School of Business

5-year MBA gain: $92,600
Pre-MBA salary: $76,000
2012 salary: $200,000

3. Harvard Business School

5-year MBA gain: $79,600
Pre-MBA salary: $80,000
2012 salary: $205,000

4. University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School

5-year MBA gain: $74,400
Pre-MBA salary: $80,000
2012 salary: $205,000

5. Northwestern Kellogg School of Management

5-year MBA gain: $73,100
Pre-MBA salary: $73,000
2012 salary: $176,000

6. Dartmouth Tuck School of Business

5-year MBA gain: $71,000
Pre-MBA salary: $72,000
2012 salary: $189,000

7. Columbia Business School

5-year MBA gain: $70,200
Pre-MBA salary: $74,000
2012 salary: $192,000

8. Duke Fuqua School of Business

5-year MBA gain: $69,800
Pre-MBA salary: $63,000
2012 salary: $152,000

9. Cornell Johnson School of Management

5-year MBA gain: $68,100
Pre-MBA salary: $59,000
2012 salary: $155,000

10. Michigan Ross School of Business

5-year MBA gain: $68,000
Pre-MBA salary: $61,000
2012 salary: $153,000

Forbes editor Kurt Badenhausen tells Poets & Quants that an MBA pays off very quickly, particularly at the top schools, though the average payback for the Class of 2008 was 3.7 years, versus 2.7 years a decade ago.

“Graduates often see their salaries triple coming out of school,” he says. “This year’s data will tell an interesting story because these top schools are sending so many MBAs into consulting that their ROIs are fantastic. This year, with the shift in job placement, we’ll see a slowdown in that salary growth.”

For more on this story, read the complete 2013 Forbes MBA rankings.

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