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Chicago Booth, LBS Reign In New Forbes Business School Ranking

Chicago MBA

The biennial ForbesBest Business Schools” ranking is out, with Chicago Booth on top for the first time in school history. And among international schools, London Business School finds itself on top yet again.

MBA graduates from the University of Chicago Booth School of Business saw the highest five-year net gain, according to Forbes data. The estimated net gain factors in the cost of education, plus annual salaries both before and after one earns their degree. Chicago MBA grads saw a net gain of $94,400—roughly $4,000 more than the 2nd highest ranked U.S. business school, the Stanford Graduate School of Business.

“Chicago grads sent two thirds of the 2018 class into consulting or finance, which rate as the most lucrative positions for M.B.A.s,” Forbes‘ staff writer Kurt Badenhausen notes. “Consultancies McKinsey, Bain, Boston Consulting Group and Accenture are among the five largest hiring firms at Booth, along with Amazon. The median base salary for Booth grads who took consulting jobs was $150,000, tops among all U.S. schools and tied with Stanford’s and Harvard’s finance grads for the top salaries across any function.”

Two of the finest business schools in the Windy City earned spots in the top three U.S. best business schools, including Chicago Booth at first overall, according to the most recent Forbes ranking.

Stanford GSB, for the second consecutive time, finds itself second overall in the Forbes U.S.-only list. Graduates from the California business school actually report the highest annual salary ($250,000) in the country, but the five-year net gain falls just short of Booth’s, with MBAs earning around $90,800 after factoring in other costs.

The Northwestern University Kellogg School of Management, also located in Chicago, rounds out the top three of the Forbes U.S. list, with MBA graduates earning a net gain of $89,600 after five years. The rest of the top ten shakes down as follows:

RankingSchoolFive Year Net Gain (USD)
1Chicago Booth$94,400
2Stanford GSB$90,800
3Northwestern Kellogg$89,600
4Harvard Business School$89,500
5The Wharton School$84,700
6Dartmouth Tuck$82,700
7 (tie)Columbia Business School$80,900
7 (tie)MIT Sloan$80,900
9Cornell Johnson$78,300
10Michigan Ross$78,000

Wharton Stumbles, Vanderbilt Rises in 2019

No business school in the top ten saw a further fall than The Wharton School at the University of Pennsylvania, slipping from first overall in 2017 to fifth in 2019. Considering Forbes ranks schools by the average five-year net gain of its graduates, Wharton fell mostly because its students typically enroll with the highest annual salary in the nation at $92,000. This total is roughly $4,000 higher than new MBAs attending UC Berkeley Haas and Harvard Business School, both of which earn around $88,000, respectively.

While the majority of the changes from 2017 to 2019 remain fairly mundane, no business school in the U.S. saw a better two-year turnaround than the Vanderbilt University Owen Graduate School of Management. The Nashville metro business school rose from 49th overall in 2017 to 30th overall this year; a 19-spot climb. With only 61 total schools recognized on the official Forbes ranking, this jump was by far the highest in the country.

Owen MBA graduates saw a typical five-year net gain of $55,300. Students joining the full-time MBA program typically earn around $64,000 per year and see a salary jump to around $160,000 five years after earning the degree.

Vanderbilt University’s Owen Graduate School of Management saw the biggest jump in the newest Forbes ranking, climbing from 49th overall to 30th overall.

MBA Salaries By The Numbers

Among the 61 schools ranked by Forbes, only five produced MBA graduates that typically earn less than $100,000 per year: the Rollins College Crummer Graduate School of Business (51st); the University of Missouri, Columbia Robert J. Trulaske, Sr. College of Business (53rd); the Willamette University Atkinson Graduate School of Management (57th); the University at Buffalo School of Management (49th); and the University of Alabama Manderson Graduate School of Business (50th). On average, graduates of the other 56 schools in the ranking earn between $100,000 to $250,000 per year.

To fully pay back the cost of one’s MBA education among the 61 schools, the shortest amount of time per student came from the Michigan State Eli Broad College of Business (27th overall) and the University of Pittsburgh Katz Graduate School of Business (37th); both of which took around 3.6 years, respectively. MBAs from the Pepperdine Graziadio Business School (61st) often took the longest at 4.9 years.

Michigan State Eli is also the only business school ranking in the top 30 of the Forbes list with students earning less than $50,000 per year prior to enrollment. Considering the ranking heavily factors graduate salary, the higher the school ranking, the higher the likely correlation between pre and post-MBA earnings. University at Buffalo School of Management MBAs rank the lowest in terms of pre-MBA salary at around $25,000 per year. This is, however, also considering Buffalo MBA students only have around one year of previous work experience, on average.

Only three schools in the ranking (Willamette, Buffalo, and Rollins) had an average class GMAT score below 600. Two schools within the top 10—Columbia Business School and Northwestern Kellogg—tied for the top GMAT average per student at 740.

The entire Forbes ranking, data, and methodology, can be found here.

London Business School Earns Top International Honors … Again

Those familiar with the Forbes biennial MBA ranking likely won’t be surprised to hear that the London Business School earned top honors among international two-year programs. This marks the 7th time in row LBS earned top-billing in the publication, which is even more remarkable considering there have only been 11 editions of the ranking so far. For those keeping score, LBS earned the number one spot in the Forbes international two-year MBA list over 63 percent of the entire history of the ranking.

MBAs from LBS earn around $197,000 (USD equivalent) five years after graduation—nearly $40,000 more than the second-highest ranked school (IESE in Barcelona). The five-year net gain of $93,100 is also the highest in the two-year program ranking, by far, with HEC Paris (2nd overall) MBA graduates sporting a $79,800 five-year net gain.

London Business School MBA graduates typically earn the most among all non-U.S. MBAs at around £157,304 ($197,000 USD) per year.

For a real five-year turnaround, however, students are better served to attend a one-year MBA program. The overall costs are generally much lower than the two-year equivalent, although many international programs are intensely competitive. The IMD business school in Lausanne, Switzerland earned the top honors among Forbes one-year international MBA programs for the second time in a row, with graduates earning a five-year net gain of $168,900. The average annual salary of IMD MBA grads is around $200,000 five years after graduation, which is also the highest figure on the one-year international MBA list. However, in terms of overall earning potential, two-year programs in the U.S. still see higher averages. Ten schools among the top two-year U.S. programs saw graduates earn annual salary rates above IMD’s $200,000 mark five years after leaving their respective programs.

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About the Author

Matthew Korman
Matthew Korman

Matthew Korman is the Managing Editor of MetroMBA. Since graduating from Rowan University with a degree in journalism and political science, Matthew has worked as a music industry writer and promoter, a data analyst, and with numerous academic institutions. His works have appeared in publications such as NPR and Sports Illustrated.

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