NerdWallet’s Best Schools For Your Buck

ROI Rankings

There are obviously many factors to consider when deciding on a business school. Where is it located? How big is the school? What is the community like? How connected and helpful is the alumni network? Increasingly, rankings are also factored into the decision. And with rising tuition costs and student debt mounting for some, a ranking using factors such as average student debt, median salaries of graduates, and average scholarship amounts are gaining validity.


Higher education, after all, is an investment—and a large one, to boot. Akin to any investment, you’ll want a good return. NerdWallet, a financial advising company, recently crunched data points related to the four categories of affordability, prestige, salary, and prestige for 358 American universities and colleges with business majors to rank the schools based on return on investment.

The overwhelming takeaway from the rankings is public schools in California reign high on returns. California-based public institutions nabbed 13 of the top 25 spots with the state’s flagship campus taking the top spot by a landslide.

The University of California-Berkeley’s Haas School of Business scored 83.235, finishing far ahead of second-ranked University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler School of Business with 71.517. Close behind and rounding out the top three was the only private school to crack the top 10, Brigham Young University’s Marriott School of Business with 71.459. Rounding out the top five was the University of Virginia and the University of California, Irvine with 70.596 and 70.068, respectively.


The rankings also reveal that if you’re going to get a business degree, go public. Only three of the top 25 schools are private universities—Brigham Young in third, Washington University in St. Louis Olin School of Business in 13th, and Pennsylvania’s Wharton School of Business in 16th.

There were certainly some surprises to make the list as well. The City University of New York Bernard M. Baruch College came in at 7th. California State University-Sacramento, California State University-Long Beach, and California State Polytechnic University-Pomona came in 11th, 12th, and 15th, respectively—all ahead of Pennsylvania’s Wharton School, which came in 16th.

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