When evaluating a business degree, what criteria are most important?
A nice salary and bonus package? Check out these schools where total compensation can top $90K. 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. In five years, 2021 graduates can expect to earn, on average, about $260,944 more than they paid for the degree.
CALCULATING EARLY CAREER ROI
As part of our annual Best Undergraduate Business Schools ranking, Poets&Quants For Undergrads asks schools to report their 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 it from the estimated total cost of earning a degree. For the percentage comparison, we subtracted total cost from total salary and divided it by total cost.
By a straight dollar-for-dollar comparison, and for the second year in a row, Kenan-Flagler Business School had the best ROI of any other business school in our ranking. Its ROI for 2021 was $262,849, or $1,905 more than 2022. Kenan-Flagler graduates can expect to pay about $98,936 if they graduate within four years and have no scholarship or other financial aid–which is exactly the same as last year. 2021 graduates reported an average salary of $71,976, down $381 per year from 2020 graduates. That’s $359,880 of income over five years, not taking into account raises or bonuses.
University of Michigan’s Ross School of Business had the second highest ROI, also for the second straight year. It’s five-year ROI of $246,697 is down $10,594 from last year due to a $3,184 rise in total cost and a $7,410 drop in total salary. Brigham Young University overtook Binghamton University for third best ROI at $235,200.
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 soared at the top-ranked private schools in our latest ranking, they also typically charge significantly more than most public schools. In Fall 2021, 14 B-Schools charged $300,000 or more for a four-year degree, up from just seven schools the year prior.
Ithaca College graduates have a five-year ROI of -$92,271 with a total estimated cost of $253,646 and an expected 5-year income of $161,375. After having the lowest ROI last year, Hult International Business School had the second lowest this year at -$43,840, a difference from its graduate’s expected income of $256,500 minus its total cost of $300,340. In 2020, graduates expected a $246,000 five-year income and a cost of $304,800.
Next page: The ROIs of all 94 business schools from our 2022 ranking
Comments or questions about this article? Email us.