Last week, Poets&Quants For Undergrads reported soaring salaries and signing bonuses for first-year graduates of top-tier business schools. We’re talking $94,894 total compensation packages for students from University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School and $91,141 for those from Georgetown’s McDonough School of Business. The numbers sure made a strong case for the continuing value of a business degree.
This week, we’re sharing the total cost to attend these top ranked schools. We gotta tell ya: Those salaries better be high for what the schools are now charging. In fact, total cost to earn a four-year business degree – a combination of tuition, fees and other expenses – is rising at both ends of the spectrum.
14 SCHOOLS CHARGE $300,000+ FOR A BUSINESS DEGREE
P&Q released its annual ranking of the Best Undergraduate Business Schools for 2022 late last month. As part of the extensive data-collection process, we collect student demographic data that, while not used in the ranking methodology, does offer important insights about the school environments. This includes analysis on the percentage of women in an incoming freshman class as well as the number of international and underrepresented minority students.
We also ask schools to report total cost estimates for students entering the school during the most recent fall term in order to see what future college students and their families might expect to pay over four years.
In Fall 2021, 14 B-Schools charged $300,000 or more for a four-year degree, up from just seven schools the year prior. On the other hand, debt-conscious, in-state students could still earn a degree for less than six figures at 10 schools in 2021, but that number fell from 13 schools in 2020.
AUBURN UNIVERSITY OFFERS LEAST EXPENSIVE DEGREE B-SCHOOL DEGREE
For the best value four-year business degree, students should look at their in-state, public universities first. Tuition for in-state students is often magnitudes cheaper than for out-of-state.
Auburn University’s Harbert College of Business offers in-state students the best value in a four-year business degree out of all of the 94 schools in our latest ranking. Total in-state tuition is $50,464, and estimated fees and other costs are $21,824, for a grand total of $72,288 over four years. Out-of-state tuition and fees will cost you $152,928.
Last year, in-state students at Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business had the lowest estimated four-year total cost at $61,176, but its total price tag rose this year by more than $15,000 to $76,380. That’s an increase of nearly 25%. Still, BYU was the second least expensive school for in-state students followed by the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s Lubar School of Business at $82,440.
The 10 schools that offer four-year business degrees for less than $100,000 are scattered around the South and Midwest. Students in North Carolina have two top value schools from which to choose. This includes the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler Business School which ranked 14 overall in our ranking, the highest for any b-school with in-state costs under $100,000. Ohio students also have two ranked schools in their state, while the West has a single school: Brigham Young University located in Provo, Utah.
THE MOST EXPENSIVE SCHOOLS IN P&Q's RANKING
That old adage that you get what you pay for? Well, it’s certainly true that many of the highest-ranked schools on our 2022 list are among the most expensive. Take Wharton School. It has topped our ranking – which measures schools on academic rigor and experience, career outcomes, and admission standards – the last five years in a row. And starting salaries for its graduates are the highest in the land.
It also has the most expensive four-year business degree at a whopping $333,192 in total tuition and expenses. That’s almost $5,000 more than the next most expensive school – Bucknell University – which itself charges an eye-popping $328,410.
The College Board’s most recent Trends in College Pricing and Student Aid found that tuition and fees were rising at historically low rates in wake of the pandemic: 1.6% for in-state students at public four-year colleges and 2.1% for students at private. That trend did not hold up at the most expensive private universities. Wharton’s estimated total cost is up 4.6% over last year’s $318,540 while Bucknell’s is up 2.4%. Most of the schools on the most-expensive list are private, with no tuition breaks for in-state students.
The lowest ranked school with a price tag over $300,000 was Tulane University ($300,699), ranked 42nd in our ranking. A degree from No. 36 Hult International Business School costs $300,340 while one from No. 37 University of Denver (Daniels) costs $304,144.
If you look at the total four-year costs for our top 10 ranked business schools, and you live in either Georgia, Virginia, or Vermont, it’s possible to identify a couple of value gems. For example, total cost for Georgia Institute of Technology Scheller School of Business (No. 10) is $127,592 for in-state students while the University of Vermont (Grossman) (No. 6) is $137,780 and the University of Virginia (McIntire) (No. 5) is $159,000. All others are over $200,000 for both in-state and out-of-state students.
Five of this year’s top 10 schools are also among the most expensive: Wharton (No. 1), Georgetown University McDonough (No. 2), University of Southern California Marshall (No. 3), Washington University in St. Louis Olin (No. 4) and New York University Stern (No.7).