Cost of pursuing MBA in USA
Updated on Nov 6, 2015 - 2:10 p.m. IST by Manashjyoti
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Cost of pursuing MBA in USA
-While an MBA degree holder, generally, lives a life of comfort and enjoys high career growth, the path to the degree itself is not always smooth. The most difficult phase an MBA degree aspirant faces is the period when he tries to get into a business school of his choice. The general view is that the higher you aim, the trickier it gets: GMAT scores get higher, TOEFL/IELTS score skyrocket, while fees, too, follow an upward trajectory. The bottom-line is, it is a very energy sapping process during which you not only have to steel yourself for the interviews and tests that are lined up, but get ready with the finances as well. In terms of finances, students need to get a clear picture about the genuine and total expenses –including the hidden ones, so that they don’t come across any monetary hurdles during their study period. In this article, we bring you a comparative study of the cost of pursuing MBA in the USA.

Cost of pursuing MBA in USA

With so many of its business schools in the list of World University Ranking 2015, it is only natural that business schools in the USA are the first preference among most students. But then students must also take into account the cost of pursuing a degree in the States.

To begin with, an MBA degree from a top 10 or even top 20 institutes in the USA would cost around $100,000 -200,000. This includes yearly tuition fees of $30,000 -60,000. Other expenses include health and insurance, travel, student activity fee, computer and laptops, personal and books and supplies. Given below is a list of top business schools and related academic costs which give us a realistic idea of the cost of pursuing MBA in the USA.


MBA tuition fee at top US universities:


Tuition Fees ( 1st year)

Total Fees** (1st year)

Stanford Graduate School of Business


$103,419 - $125,415

Harvard Business School


$98,400 - $135,400

Kellogg School of Management



Booth School of Business



Tuck School of Business



Columbia Business School



Wharton School



Haas School of Business

$57,220.50 (including health insurance)


Curtis Johnson Graduate School of Management



MIT Sloan School of Management



**The total cost includes elements like living allowance, books and supplies, instructional materials, transportation costs, medical insurance, and similar such stuff, in addition to tuition fees.

Living costs: Students have to shell out on average $1,000 on rooms and utilities per month. Check the breakdown here:


Living cost for an international student in US:







Groceries and shopping




Phone bills




Calling Cards






Above and over these expenses, students also have to pay for GMAT /GRE and English language proficiency tests like TOEFL/IELTS which may run up bills of up to $170-220 before they can apply for international programs in the USA and Europe.

It is, therefore, understandable that an MBA degree from the top business schools doesn’t come cheap –especially when one considers that a similar degree in India is available for 10-25 lakh rupees.  But it is only one side of the coin; the other, and more positive side, is students with an MBA degree from the States immediately start on the front foot, their salaries being on average three-four times higher than their Indian degree holders.  This is because most of these top schools are located in prime locations and have easy access to global corporations and provide students a truly international exposure. Also, the level of student-teacher engagement is exemplary, with the thrust of education mainly on building future leaders and opinion makers. So, though the cost of pursuing an MBA in the USA is a bit on the higher side, it is a good bargain.

Cost of pursuing MBA in USA vs. in Europe

When students consider the cost of pursuing MBA in USA they inevitably also draw comparisons with a similar degree in Europe. But it is not always an apple-for-apple comparison because there are some marked differences between the two MBA degrees. To begin with, the American standard for the full-time MBA is two years, while the duration of the course is normally one year to eighteen months in Europe. An immediate consequence of this difference is that an MBA program is less expensive in Europe. But the downside is with less time dedicated to the course, students mostly rush through their courses and so one needs to assess his abilities to cope with the high intensity of the program.  In contrast, a two-year program allows a student to get into the nitty-gritty of the program and get adjusted to the pace of the course.

MBA tuition fee at top Europen universities:


Duration of Program



12 months

44,960 pounds ($68,841)


12 months

47,925 pounds ($73,381)

HEC Paris

12 months

52,000 pounds (57,348)

London Business School

2 years

67,750 pounds ($103,895)


12 months

65,800 euros ($71,557)

The above chart makes it amply clear that a one-year program in Europe costs much less than a typical two-year degree in the States. But there is more to the story than mere statistics like course fee. Take for example, an MBA graduate in the USA has an edge in the job market and can easily recover the money invested in the degree as there are more campus recruitments by big corporations.

 Another advantage offered by American institutes is the alumni network, which comes in very handy when looking for a job. A good example is the University of California alumni network, which is among the most vibrant and powerful in the world; the UCLA website has a separate page dedicated to help its student community get the best deal in the market. The page informs students about upcoming events, which are great places to bond with etc.

Moreover, why many students prefer America over Europe is the diversity of specializations on offer; yes Europe has in recent times introduced a lot of similar courses, but whether you look at it quantitatively or qualitatively, USA is still ahead. Specialized courses like Operations Management, Strategy, Information Management, International Management, and Corporate Social Responsibility are some of the disciplines where USA business schools outshine its European counterparts. According to the MBA Ranking in Top Specializations list published by QS, it is universities like Harvard, Stanford, MIT Sloan and Chicago Booth that dominate. In addition, students in American schools get to participate in a number of extra-curricular activities which contributes towards all-round development.

Meanwhile, European students can claim international experience, smaller class size –which makes instructions more personal and interactive, travel opportunities across Europe as major highlights.

So, from what we have learned, focusing on just one element, that is cost, will be a short-sighted approach to deciding from where to do the MBA program. A more pragmatic and beneficial thing to do would be to consider all aspects in their totality –costs, job opportunity, visa application process and acceptance rates, purpose of the program from the student’s perspective, culture and all-round benefits.

Stay tuned to for more stories on USA


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