P&Q’s Top Value Undergraduate Business Schools Of 2021

University of North Carolina, Kenan-Flagler Business School

Let’s be real. A college degree is an investment. Yeah, it’s about new experiences, growth, and learning. But one of the most important benefits of earning a college degree in today’s society is earning potential. Especially a business degree. Research shows the average salary for a high school graduate between 22 and 27-years-old earned $30,000. In 2019. For college graduates, that average yearly earning was $44,000. Over a lifetime, college graduates can expect to make around $1 million, on average, more than those with a high school degree.

Each year at Poets&Quants we survey business schools asking what their estimated total four-year cost is and the average salary of its most recent graduating class. We use those two datapoints to put together a straightforward glimpse into business schools with the best early-career return on investment. To calculate an early ROI, we simply took the average salary of 2020 graduates, multiplied it by five for five years of work, and subtracted that total from the estimated total cost of earning a degree from that school in four years.

Using that calculation, no other school has a better early return than the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School. Kenan-Flagler graduates can expect to pay about $98,936 if they graduate within four years and have no scholarship or other financial aid. Class of 2020 graduates of the Kenan-Flagler school reported an average starting salary of $72,357 — or $361,785 over five years — for a five-year ROI of $262,849. The University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business followed with an ROI of $257,291. And the University of Virginia’s McIntire School of Commerce rounded out the top three with a five-year ROI of $256,348. Each of those three schools finished in the top-six of this year’s P&Q ranking of best undergraduate business schools.

RankSchoolIn-State Total CostFive-Year TotalFive-Year ROI
6University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill$98,936$361,785$262,849
4University of Michigan$131,594$388,885$257,291
2University of Virginia$153,302$409,650$256,348
28Binghamton University$102,680$343,500$240,820
31Brigham Young University$61,176$290,775$229,599
11University of Texas At Austin$122,960$352,275$229,315
19Indiana University$104,623$326,940$222,317
22University of Washington$117,276$336,685$219,409
30University of Pittsburgh$83,224$296,170$212,946
39Miami University$122,936$330,670$207,734

As you can see, top-ranked public schools have the best early-career ROI thanks to the relatively low total costs of attending and strong average starting salaries. Pricier private schools dominate the bottom of the list. For example, graduates of Hult International Business School have a five-year ROI of -$58,800 with a total estimated cost of $304,800 and an estimated five-year earning potential of $246,000. The University of Denver Daniels College of Business also has a negative ROI at -$25,570, as does Ithaca College’s School of Business with -$730.

RankSchoolIn-State Total CostFive-Year TotalFive-Year ROI
32Hult International Business School$304,800$246,000-$58,800
50University of Denver$294,360$268,790-$25,570
93Ithaca College*$248,105$247,375-$730
87Santa Clara University*$296,992$297,330$338
27Boston University$310,648$311,895$1,247
35Bucknell University$320,640$324,370$3,730
70University of the Pacific$275,388$290,415$15,027
26Southern Methodist University$316,504$337,455$20,951
72Saint Louis University$236,636$258,525$21,889
78Sacred Heart University$238,500$261,230$22,730

* Means the school reported 2019 salary data instead of 2020 salary data.

See the next page for the five-year ROI of all ranked schools.

POETS&QUANTS BEST UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOLS RANKINGS STORIES:

WHARTON TOPS P&Q RANKINGS FOR FOURTH STRAIGHT YEAR

THE FULL METHODOLOGY FOR THE 2021 RANKING

THE DATA DUMP: ALL DATA USED FOR THE 2021 RANKING

REPORT CARD: HOW ALUMNI GRADE THEIR B-SCHOOL EXPERIENCE

ACCEPTANCE RATES AT THE TOP UNDERGRADUATE BUSINESS SCHOOLS

AVERAGE SAT & ACT SCORES AT THE TOP B-SCHOOLS

BUSINESS SCHOOLS WITH THE BEST COLLEGE EXPERIENCE

BUSINESS SCHOOLS WHERE GRADUATES GET THEIR DESIRED JOBS

TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS WITH THE MOST MINORITY STUDENTS

TOP BUSINESS SCHOOLS WITH THE MOST INTERNATIONAL STUDENTS

TOTAL COSTS AT THE BEST BUSINESS SCHOOLS

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