The ROI Of P&Q’s Top-Ranked Business Schools

When evaluating one business school against another, there’s a lot of criteria to consider.

Looking for a nice salary and bonus package? Check out business schools from our 2024 ranking where total compensation can top $100,000 in the first year.

More interested in a reasonable cost? Perhaps one of these quality public schools will provide more bang for your buck.

A guaranteed job after graduation? These two schools boasted a 100% employment rate for its grads within three months of walking the stage.

If you’re looking for a good early return on your investment, there’s no better school on a dollar-for-dollar basis than University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School – at least for in-state students. In five years, 2023 graduates who paid in-state tuition can expect to earn, on average, about $$339,002 more than they paid for the degree.


As part of our annual Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking, Poets&Quants For Undergrads asks schools to report the four-year total cost of their degrees as well as the average salary of the most recent graduating class.

With those two data points, we get a snapshot of which schools offer the best early-career return on investment. To calculate an early ROI in dollar terms, we simply took a five-year salary total and subtracted the estimated total four-year total cost of earning the degree. For the percentage comparison, we subtracted total cost from total salary and divided it by total cost. (Poets&Quants determined cost to include tuition and all university fees, as well as room and board, transportation expenses, and books and supplies. Tuition and fees can be calculated fairly easily; living expenses must be estimated. In most cases the schools themselves provided detailed estimates for the latter.)

By a straight dollar-for-dollar comparison, and for the third time since 2021, Kenan-Flagler (ranked No. 8 overall in our 2024 ranking) had the best ROI of any other business school in our ranking. In-state resident students can expect to pay about $93,216 if they graduate within four years, but have no scholarship or other financial aid. Class of 2023 graduates reported an average salary of $86,444, or an average income of $432,218 over five years, not taking into account any raises or bonuses.

That means UNC Kenan-Flagler in-state grads are bringing in $339,002 more than the cost of the degree after five years on the job. That’s an ROI of 363.67%.

Michigan resident students graduating from University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business (ranked No. 5 overall) nabbed the second highest ROI on our ranking. Ross’ five-year ROI is $330,198, or 233.73%

You can see the schools highest early-career return on investment in the chart below.

Highest ROIs For P&Q Ranked Business Schools

2024 P&Q Rank
In-State Total Cost (4-year)
Total Salary (5-year)
8 University of North Carolina (Kenan-Flagler) $93,216 $432,218.05 $339,002.05 363.67%
5 University of Michigan (Ross) $141,272 $471,470.00 $330,198.48 233.73%
4 University of Virginia (McIntire) $164,004 $465,900.00 $301,896.00 184.08%
28 Binghamton University $116,637 $413,415.00 $296,778.00 254.45%
48 William & Mary (Mason) $150,502 $426,435.00 $275,933.00 183.34%
44 Rutgers Business School – New Brunswick $118,440 $394,274.55 $275,834.65 232.89%
14 Indiana University (Kelley) $113,375 $383,525.00 $270,150.00 238.28%
85 Florida International University $51,836 $308,335.00 $256,499.00 494.83%
10 Georgia Institute of Technology (Scheller) $161,392 $414,420.00 $253,028.00 156.78%
6 Cornell University (Dyson SC John) $238,409 $490,330.00 $251,921.00 105.67%

It should be of little surprise that top-ranked public schools have a higher early-career ROI than the much pricier private schools. While average salaries continue to rise at the top-ranked private schools in our latest ranking, they also typically charge significantly more than most public schools. In Fall 2023, 20 schools posted estimated tuition, fees, and expected expenses that add up to more than $300K over four years. That compares to just 13 schools the year before.

Notably, nine of the 10 schools with the highest early-career ROI are public institutions that offer substantial tuition breaks for in-state students (the figure used in our calculations.) So, if you’re a student considering a business degree, look at programs in your state’s public universities first.


At the other end of the ROI spectrum, two business schools posted five-year ROIs that were in the negative.

Hult International Business School graduates have an estimated five-year ROI of -$116,700 with a total estimated cost of $331,200 and an expected 5-year income of $214,500.

At Ithaca College, graduates have an estimated ROI of -$14,812 based on a total four-year cost of $261,462 compared to an average five-year earnings of $246,650.

The caveat is, of course, that the sticker price is rarely the price paid by college students. Scholarships, grants and other financial aid – some based on merit, some based on need – vary from school to school and student to student. This money can greatly impact the ROI on a school’s business degree. Each student should look at their full offers and make their own calculations to get the best estimate for the value of the degree they are pursuing.

Lowest ROIs For P&Q Ranked Business Schools

2024 P&Q Rank
In-State Total Cost (4-year)
Total Salary (5-year)
38 Hult International Business School $331,200 $214,500.00 -$116,700.00 -35.24%
66 Ithaca College $261,462 $246,650.00 -$14,812.00 -5.67%
68 Duquesne University (Palumbo Donahue) $272,656 $285,640.00 $12,984.00 4.76%
67 Seattle University (Albers) $294,180 $315,725.00 $21,545.00 7.32%
59 Rochester Institute of Technology (Saunders) $301,560 $331,000.00 $29,440.00 9.76%
81 University of the Pacific (Eberhardt) $280,364 $313,640.00 $33,276.00 11.87%
37 Providence College $293,080 $327,205.00 $34,125.00 11.64%
39 Loyola Marymount University $317,228 $355,235.00 $38,007.00 11.98%
36 Syracuse University (Whitman) $305,535 $345,755.00 $40,220.00 13.16%

Next page: The ROIs of all 91 business schools from our 2024 ranking

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