New WSJ Rankings: More Bang for Your Buck in Surprising Places

Before opening a vein to pay for your executive MBA, consider the Wall Street Journal‘s first-ever ranking of the five-year return on investment of executive MBA programs. The results may surprise you.

Most of the schools that topped the list weren’t big brand names — or the highest-ranked in the September EMBA ranking. The No. 1 school in September, Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management, was No. 12 in returns. Ohio State comes in at No. 3 with a program that yields a 170% return on investment. Only Texas A&M’s Mays School of Business and University of Florida’s Warrington School of Business did better among U.S. schools, with five-year returns of 243% and 212%, respectively, the Journal reports. Texas A&M and University of Florida, despite a high ROI, didn’t even make the top 25 in September.

So how’d they calculate the benefit? By using the graduate-reported median raise after completion of the program as the first-year salary increase, then adding a 5% annual raise over the following four years, based on the average annual increase expected by compensation specialists and executive recruiters polled.

Texas A&M’s tuition is less than half than that of New York University’s Stern School of Business, the school with the lowest return on investment at 51%. Not all of the top schools delivered low returns, however. USC’s Marshall School of Business ranked no. 4 in the overall ranking and has a five-year return of 134%. Across town, UCLA’s Anderson School of Business took the 17 spot in overall ranking, but graduates can expect an ROI of 158%–fourth best in this latest survey’s results.

The gold plating and marble columns at top-ranked institutions may provide a non-quantifiable ROI in the form of an impressive alumni network, location or brand cache, though. One recent Columbia graduate, Izzet Bensusan, says the experience was worth every penny. “I only paid $130,000, and I got to sit with the best people in the world.”

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