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Pick Your City: Should You Get an MBA in Miami or Atlanta?

Miami vs Atlanta

When it comes to the Southeastern U.S., we’ve already compared Charlotte and Atlanta, but what if you’re looking for a little more fun in the sun? There’s few better locations for pristine beaches, great food, and fabulous nightlife than Miami. It’s a city steeped in culture and the gateway to Latin America, but how does it compare to Atlanta when it comes to business schools?

To help you out, our “Pick Your City” series is comparing Miami, FL, and Atlanta, GA. We’ll give you insight into the cost of living of each city, the job opportunities, the MBA programs, the culture, and more.

Miami vs Atlanta: Cost of Living

According to BestPlaces, if you want affordability, Atlanta, GA is a better choice. Overall, Miami is 18.8 percent more expensive than Atlanta, due to housing costs that are 37.7 percent more expensive and health-related expenses that are 9.3 percent more. When you break that down, you’ll pay $350,100 for a house in Miami and $261,700 for a house in Atlanta. Below are a few more specifics:

  • Median income: $51,701 in Atlanta vs. $33,999 in Miami.
  • Unemployment rate: 2 percent in Atlanta vs. 4 percent in Miami.
  • Future job growth: 8 percent in Atlanta vs. 42.7 percent in Miami.
  • Average Rent: $1,603 in Atlanta vs. $2,062 in Miami.

According to the Numbeo 2018 cost of living index, you would need $5,300 a month in Miami, FL to enjoy the same standard of life as you could have in Atlanta, GA for $4,576; a near $800 per month difference.

Miami vs Atlanta: Culture

What about the culture of each city—which one best fits your lifestyle? Atlanta is called, “the next Miami,” so that should give you a decent idea from the outset. Both cities have very culturally diverse populations, excellent food, and warm weather. They are also both densely populated and continuously growing.

Atlanta is the most populous city in its state of Georgia with the metropolitan area being home to 5.9 million people—the ninth-largest metro in the nation. Miami is the seventh-largest metro area in the states with 6.1 million people. However, that’s where many of the similarities end.

Miami is recognized as the cultural, economic, and financial center of South Florida.

The Miami Lifestyle

Nicknamed the “Capital of Latin America,” Miami is well known for its large Cuban-American population, young residents, and high-volume of Spanish-speakers. So, it should be no surprise that Miami attracts a culturally diverse array of individuals.

Those individuals have many enjoyable activities to enjoy. Miami is home to many entertainment venues, including theaters, museums, and performing arts centers. It’s also a major fashion center with many top modeling agencies and models calling the city home. As for the cuisine, Miami is heavily influenced by the Caribbean and Latin America, which resulted in the creation of the always-excellent Cubano.

Lastly, you can’t talk about Miami without mentioning the parks and beaches. Miami has tropical weather all year-round, which means you can always spend time outdoors. It’s a popular location for water activities, including boating, fishing, kite surfing, and more. Then, there are the Everglades, which stretch for miles just to the west of the city.

The ATL

Atlanta has a dynamic but distinctly Southern culture. It’s home to a large population of migrants from all around the U.S. as well many new immigrants, making it a multi-cultural hub in the Southeast. Thus, it’s considered a cosmopolitan city with quirky neighborhoods and a wonderful cultural fabric.

Atlanta is also very focused on the arts. It is one of the few cities in the U.S. with permanent, professional, and resident companies for opera, ballet, orchestral music, and theater. Which means there are always great concerts, shows, exhibitions, and Broadway acts to enjoy at the Woodruff Arts Center, The Fox Theater, or the Alliance Theater.

Atlanta is also a popular tourist destination, attracting 35 million visitors per year. The Georgia Aquarium, the world’s largest indoor aquarium, is one of the main attractions, but so is Martin Luther King Jr.’s childhood home. There’s also the Atlanta Botanical Garden, the National Center for Civil and Human Rights, and the World of Coca-Cola.

Atlanta is home to the world’s seventh-busiest city airport by passenger traffic (103,902,992 passengers annually)

Miami vs Atlanta: Job Opportunities

Miami is a true metropolis and a major leader in finance, culture, media, commerce, entertainment, and international trade. The city has the 12th largest urban economy in the U.S., worth an estimated $344.9 billion GDP, and in 2018, Miami was classified as an Alpha level global city by GaWC. This equates to Miami being an incredible location for business activity, information exchange, human capital, political engagement, and cultural experience. According to a UBS study of purchasing power, it’s the third-richest city in the U.S. and the eighth-richest in the world.

Top employers in the Miami area, include:

  • Baptist Health South Florida
  • American Airlines
  • Carnival Cruise Lines
  • Royal Caribbean
  • Miami Children’s Hospital
  • Lennar Corporation
  • Office Depot
  • World Fuel Services
  • AutoNation
  • Ryder System

Atlanta’s metropolitan area is home to the tenth-largest economy in the country, and among the top 20 in the world. The city is also headquarters to many well-known corporations such as The Coca-Cola Company, Home Depot, Delta Airlines, AT&T, Chick-fil-A, and UPS. In fact, more than 65 percent of Fortune 1000 companies conduct business in the area. Media, transportation and logistics, information and technology, film and television are all big industries in the metro as well.

Some of the top employers in Atlanta, include:

  • Piedmont Healthcare
  • Publix Super Markets
  • The Kroger Co.
  • Cox Enterprises
  • Southern Company
  • State Farm
  • SunTrust Bank
  • WellStar Health Systems

Miami vs Atlanta: MBA Programs

Both Miami and Atlanta offer quality MBA programs. We’ll take a quick look at the top three programs in each location.

Miami MBA Programs

  • University of Miami School of Business: Consistently ranked in the top 100 MBA programs in the world (83th by the Financial Times) and top 60 in the U.S. (58th by Bloomberg), the University of Miami School of Business is a great choice for an MBA. It offers three variations of a full-time MBA, an Executive MBA program, part-time MBA, and an Online MBA.
  • University of Florida Hough Graduate School of Business: Located in Gainesville, a couple of hours north of Miami, Hough Graduate School is home to one of the top 100 MBA programs in the world. It’s ranked well by both The Economist and Bloomberg. The school’s hybrid online MBA is ranked 7th in the world, making it an excellent choice for Florida residents.
  • Florida International University Chapman Graduate School of Business: The Chapman Graduate School offers an International MBA program as well as a Professional MBA (Weekend, Downtown, and Flex), Online MBA, and Healthcare MBA program. Located in Miami, Chapman is an appropriate choice for individuals looking to expand their cultural understanding.

Atlanta MBA Programs

  • Emory University’s Goizueta Business School: Goizueta offers a full-time, evening, and Executive MBA option. Ranked as one of the top 30 MBA programs in the world by The Economist, Forbes, Bloomberg, and U.S. News & World Report, it’s a prestigious business school offering an MBA program with 20 different concentrations.
  • Mercer University’s Eugene Q. Stetson School of Business and Economics: The Stetson School has a full-time, evening, online, and professional MBA option. Students in the full-time program can graduate in as little as ten to twelve months after completing 36 or 45 credit hours, depending on if you need the Business Foundations Module.
  • University of Georgia Terry College of Business: The Terry College of Business offers a full-time MBA, professional MBA, and Executive MBA option. Ranked in the top 50 by the S. News & World Report, Forbes, and The Economist, it’s a well-known program encompassing concentrations in nine areas.

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About the Author


Kelly Vo    

Kelly Vo is a writer who specializes in covering MBA programs, digital marketing, and personal development.

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