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Comparing MBA CoA to calculate ROI

Katie Schenk - December 05, 2017

Comparing CoA for top 50 MBA programmes

As we’ve seen before, the Cost of Attendance (CoA) is critical for international students. It includes tuition, fees, books, medical insurance, and everything you need to live during your studies - and you'll need to prove you can cover these costs to secure a visa.

(And, if you haven’t taken a moment to read about the variations between school calculations, visa complications, and financing options, you should probably do so now.)

Although universities publish CoA figures – even if it’s just tuition and the lowest possible amount they believe a student can survive with – it can be tough to compare apples to apples.

Costs are given in local currencies – pounds, euros, rupees, yuan, and dollars (that includes American, Canadian, Australian dollars as well as Hong Kong and Singapore dollars). That alone is enough to set your head spinning – and it gets more complicated when you try to work out your return on investment (ROI).


You’ll find salary statistics are often published as American dollars. 

Even if you consider only European schools – and only those that charge in euros, you’ll still need to convert the amounts to dollars to estimate your ROI. 

If you’re bringing euros or dollars to the table, it’s doable, but when you factor in a third home currency, you’re in for some serious head scratching. (Usually, you’ll find way more zeros than you want to see.)

Calculating ROI demands that you consider the cost of attendance + opportunity costs (including the duration of your studies) + loan interest (less any monies saved or awarded as scholarships) and weigh that against earning potential.

Of course, you don’t know your earning potential when applying to various schools. 

The median reported salaries (whatever currency they’re reported in) don’t mean a lot. You could be on the low end of the salary scale now, which likely puts you on the lower end of the salary scale post-MBA – but location changes, internship experience, and career switching all play a role.


Absolutely. But, you still need to work out that ROI before you decide an MBA (and which MBA) is right for you. (Though, just to throw a little spanner into that, it’s worth noting that MBA experiences offer a lot more than simply monetary rewards.)

So, how much do MBA programmes really cost? 

We’ve taken figures reported by universities – and converted them to US dollars and accounted for study duration so it’s possible to compare the top 50 apples. It’s worth noting, however, that we’ve only doubled the first year CoA for two-year US programmes, so there will be some variation.

Then, we’ve taken a look at the weighted three-year salary for each university, as reported by the 2017 FT World MBA Rankings – as well as their income increase percentage (so you can attempt to work out your future salary range based on your current one).

In the end, most of the figures are estimates only, but they’re a great jumping off point for calculating your ROI – and for piecing together your starting budget. 

And, when listed in order of least to most expensive MBA programmes (as we’ve done at the very bottom), you may find yourself considering a few schools that may not have crossed your mind previously.

We've got the data below, and a ROI calculator to make it even easier for you. 

Calculate the 20 year returns from studying a Master’s degree.

Please enter a number between $ 20,000 and $ 225,000.
Please enter a number between $ 2,000 and $ 200,000.
Please enter a number between $ 2,000 and $ 250,000.
Please enter a number between 0% and 5%.

Total 20 year earnings

You would earn Help over 20 years if you did a Master’s degree.

Without a Master's degree

With a Master's degree

US MBA programmes

2: Stanford Graduate School of Business 
Stanford, California
3: University of Pennsylvania: Wharton
Philadelphia, Pennsylvania
4: Harvard Business School 
Boston, Massachusetts
7: Columbia Business School
New York, New York
9: University of Chicago: Booth
Chicago, Illinois
12: Northwestern University: Kellogg
Evanston, Illinois
  • CoA: $200,434 = $100,217 (Tuition: $68,955 + Living: $31,262) x2
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $164,326 (96% increase)
  • Course duration: 2 years (a 1-year programme is available)
13: MIT: Sloan
Boston, Massachusetts
  • CoA: $210,220 = $105,110 (Tuition: $71,000 + Living: $34,110) x2
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $165,716 (88% increase)
  • Course duration: 2 years
13: University of California at Berkeley: Haas
Berkeley, California
15: Yale School of Management
New Haven, Connecticut
18: Dartmouth College: Tuck
Hanover, New Hampshire
19: New York University: Stern
New York, New York
23: University of Michigan: Ross
Ann Arbor, Michigan
24: Duke University: Fuqua
Durham, North Carolina
27: Cornell University: Johnson
Ithaca, New York
32: UCLA: Anderson
Los Angeles, California
35: University of Virginia: Darden
Charlottesville, Virginia
38: Carnegie Mellon: Tepper
Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
40: Georgetown University: McDonough
Washington DC
41: University of Washington: Foster
Seattle, Washington
43: University of North Carolina: Kenan-Flagler
Chapel Hill, North Carolina
46: University of Texas at Austin: McCombs
Austin, Texas
47: Indiana University: Kelley
Bloomington, Indiana
48: University of Southern California: Marshall
Los Angeles, California

European MBA programmes

Fontainbleau, France

5: University of Cambridge: Judge
Cambridge, United Kingdom

6: London Business School
London, United Kingdom
8: IE Business School
Madrid, Spain
10: Iese Business School
Madrid, Spain
17: Esade Business School
Barcelona, Spain
  • CoA: $119,280 = €99,400  (Tuition: €64,900 + Living: €34,500)
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $146,127 (116% increase)
  • Course duration: 15 months (10 and 18 month options available)
20: HEC Paris
Paris, France
21: IMD
Lausanne, Switzerland
22: SDA Bocconi
Milan, Italy
30: Alliance Manchester Business School
Manchester, United Kingdom
31: Rotterdam School of Management, Erasmus University
Rotterdam, Netherlands
  • CoA: $78,000 = €65,000 (Tuition: €47,000 + Living: €18,000)
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $120,625 (98% increase)
  • Course duration: 1 year
33: University of Oxford: Saïd
Oxford, United Kingdom
37: City University: Cass
London, United Kingdom
42: Lancaster University Management School
Lancaster, United Kingdom
44: Warwick Business School
Coventry, United Kingdom
45: Imperial College Business School
London, United Kingdom

Asian and Australian MBA programmes

Shanghai, China
15: HKUST Business School
Clear Water Bay, Hong Kong
24: Nanyang Business School
26: National University of Singapore Business School
27: Indian School of Business
Hyderabad, India
29: Indian Institute of Management Ahmedabad
Ahmedabad, India
  • CoA: $78,000 (Tuition: $50,000 + Living: ₹ 18,00,000)
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $181,863 (105% increase)
  • Course duration: 2 years
34: Shanghai Jiao Tong University: Antai
Shanghai, China
  • CoA: $69,000 = ¥460,000 (Tuition: ¥268,000 + Living: ¥192,000)
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $123,330 (172% increase)
  • Course duration: 2 years
36: CUHK Business School
Shatin, Hong Kong
39: University of Hong Kong
Pok Fu Lam, Hong Kong
49: Macquarie Graduate School of Management
Sydney, Australia
  • CoA: $116,250 = AU$ 155,000 (Tuition: AU$ 80,000 + Living: AU$ 75,000)
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $131,488 (75% increase)
  • Course duration: 2 years
49: Indian Institute of Management Bangalore
Bangalore, India
  • CoA: $60,000 = ₹37,50,000 (Tuition: ₹ 19,50,000 + Living: ₹ 18,00,000)
  • Weighted 3-year salary: $152,000 (96% increase)
  • Course duration: 2 years

Top 50 FT MBA programmes CoA (from estimated lowest to highest)

Need a loan to cover the cost of attending your dream school?

Once you figure out the ROI on your studies, it's time to find the finances to pay for it - and Prodigy Finance is ready to help with that. 

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