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10 Best MBA Degree Programs

Best MBA Degree Programs

A Master of Business Administration degree is like a passport to corporate leadership opportunities for experienced professionals. When you apply for a job, holding an MBA boosts your prospects by showing that you have the skills and knowledge to master workplace tasks. Possessing an MBA also lends gravity to the degree-holder, demonstrating academic achievement in the face of high standards. Professionals who qualify for the best MBA degree programs enhance the value of their degrees with recognizable university names. In 2019, The Wall Street Journal reported that 1,189 schools offered full-time MBA programs. With all the noise in the marketplace, business professionals need to focus on programs that fit their needs and expectations. 

MBAs have existed since the early 20th century and gained currency in the business world by the 1960s. The first business school in the world to offer graduate degrees was Dartmouth University’s Tuck School of Business in 1900, and Harvard followed suit with the nation’s first MBA program in 1908. In 1916, the Association of Collegiate Schools of Business was created to promote best practices in business education. The ACSB later became the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business. Thanks to these early pioneers, MBA programs produce graduates ready for the rigors of the global economy. 

Statistics from the AACSB and Statista show why professionals and businesses alike value the MBA: According to the AACSB, a majority of surveyed MBA graduates reached senior leadership positions with their companies within five years of graduation. Of the surveyed companies, 72% said MBAs provide added value to the workplace, while 70% reported that an MBA education helps professionals handle multiple roles. Statista also found that from 2008 to 2019, the percentage of companies who hired MBAs rose from 59% to 76%. 

The best MBA degree programs in the U.S. are designed to connect classroom lessons with real-world skills. In the programs we detailed here, candidates complete core courses that establish foundations in areas like finance and management. However, business schools diverge on how to encourage specialization among MBA candidates. You may be asked to select concentrations or tracks focus on particular business functions or industries. MBA programs also sometimes allow their students to use electives to customize their learning experiences. 

In every program, students are encouraged to participate in internships, consulting projects, and competitions that test their limits. Universities with successful business programs use evening, executive, and part-time MBA programs to augment their full-time degree paths. Full-time students and working professionals alike emerge from this gauntlet of challenges with marketable skills. 

The best MBA programs in the U.S. desire the same outcomes for their graduates: to be able to communicate clearly and manage staff effectively using a variety of skill sets. MBA graduates emerge with clearer views of how businesses function in the real world and how they can improve. MBA programs are also important meeting places for future partners, colleagues, and collaborators to learn shared values. With these outcomes in mind, aspiring business leaders can tackle the task of completing MBA applications. 


The competitive nature of the business world mirrors MBA programs’ high standards. Poets & Quants reports that 49 leading business schools admitted an average of 21.6% of all applicants in 2017. This analysis also found that 14 of the top 20 MBA programs have reduced their admittance rates since 2016. Still, business professionals around the world are eager to gain entry to these exclusive clubs. The universities in our ranking have developed application processes that carefully evaluate each candidate’s background and potential, so nailing the application process is critical for hopeful MBA applicants. 

Students who demonstrate past academic successes are in a strong position for admission. Every program on our list requires official transcripts for previous undergraduate and graduate work at the time of application. These transcripts not only demonstrate overall GPAs that meet each school’s standards, but also the completion of foundational business courses. In some cases, MBA programs look for successful students from non-business programs who are interested in business careers. Few programs maintain hard-and-fast GPA standards, though a GPA above 3.0 is generally required for admission. 

MBA applicants are also often asked to submit recent results from either the Graduate Management Admissions Test (GMAT) or the Graduate Record Examinations (GRE). These graduate-level tests demonstrate the writing, logic, and comprehension skills necessary for success in MBA programs. According to Poets & Quants, the average GMAT score of admitted students in 2019 exceeded 690 (out of a possible 800) at half of the nation’s top 50 business schools. Their GRE verbal, quantitative, and analytical writing scores tend to exceed 310 out of a possible 346. 

MBA programs are unique among graduate schools, and heavily emphasize professional experience. The best schools typically ask for at least one letter of recommendation from a past supervisor or professor. A polished resume showing previous professional experience details the applicant’s path to the program. Business programs also ask for at least one essay describing your goals, how you fit with the school’s values, and what you would bring to the school. 

The application fees for MBA programs vary, but often exceed the $77 average for undergraduate programs noted by U.S. News & World Report. Business schools at Texas A&M University ($175), the University of Texas ($200), and Stanford University ($275) far exceed this average. There are exceptions to this trend, however, with Arizona State University’s $70 fee and a $75 fee for the University of North Texas. 

Leading business programs use admissions interviews to bring application materials to life. Led by rotating groups of faculty, staff members, and alumni, these interviews may take anywhere from one hour to a full day. Keeping this in mind, develop polished and concise sales pitches for your candidacy. Frame the inevitable questions about past challenges or career changes as opportunities for growth. You can also reduce interview anxiety by practicing with colleagues or friends. A successful interview can go a long way toward turning an application into an offer. 


If you are admitted to your preferred school, think about how you will fund your education. Student loan debt has been in the news for years, and an advanced business degree is a significant investment for any professional. Poets & Quants surveyed tuition rates for 23 business schools across the country in 2017. The average tuition for these schools was $66,514, with nine programs exceeding $200,000 in two-year costs. 

According to a 2019 report from CNBC, nearly 50% of MBA students at top universities borrowed at least $100,000 to fund their degrees. The return on investment is high, but can take years to realize, making a smart financial plan vital for any MBA student. Personal and federal student loans are always options, though scholarships and fellowships put you in a better financial situation. 

Alumni and corporate partners often sponsor scholarships to help continue business schools’ reputations for business education. There are also scholarships aimed at women, minority, first-generation, and international candidates who will diversify the student body. Fellowships often provide two years of funding for MBA students in exchange for teaching, research, and consulting work. In many cases, business schools automatically consider first-year MBA candidates for scholarships and fellowships. 

Foundations and business groups often provide MBA funding opportunities to targeted groups. The Orbis Investment Management MBA Fellowship is open to any first-year MBA student who is interested in investment. This $15,000 award requires an application, stock analysis, and interview. The Forte Foundation funds fellowships each year for female MBA candidates at select universities, includes an award and mentoring opportunities, and promotes candidates’ credentials to partner companies. The Association of Certified Fraud Examiners encourages business school students to study this career path through the Ritchie-Jennings Memorial Scholarship. The ACFE awards between $1,000 and $10,000 to successful applicants who demonstrate an interest in fraud prevention careers. 

There are hundreds of additional funding options to fit your background, interests, and career goals. U.S. News & World Report offers additional suggestions to reduce educational costs: You can work with business schools’ career centers to find part-time employment opportunities to offset costs and hone marketable skills. Career centers may also work with employers to find consultants who can help with one-off projects. Entrepreneurial students with low-overhead business ideas can also start their ventures as they complete degrees. 

U.S. News also recommends pursuing accelerated MBA options, which are often available at leading business universities. An accelerated or part-time program reduces tuition costs while providing the same degree as the full-time MBA option. Don’t let funding questions prevent you from working toward a graduate degree. A 2016 study of business school programs by the Graduate Management Admissions Council found that 27% of incoming students received in-house scholarships. The GMAC also determined that 6% of first-year students received in-house fellowships, while 4% earned assistantships. This report does not include outside funding options that avoid the thorny issue of student loans. 


The sacrifices and hard work that factor into an MBA education yield great long-term prospects for graduates. PayScale’s salary average for MBA recipients was $87,000 in September 2019. The salary data site published an average salary of $62,000 for Bachelor of Business Administration holders in the same period. PayScale found several MBA career paths with average salaries significantly higher than their baseline figure. Chief financial officers who hold MBAs earned an average salary of $148,000 in 2019. In terms of managerial positions, MBA-holding project managers ($91,000) and finance managers ($100,000) also enjoy above-average salaries. 

Look for career options that not only provide high-end compensation, but have long-term demand for talent. A career path with more jobs than qualified applicants means plenty of demand for an MBA’s services. The Bureau of Labor Statistics notes that top executive positions are projected to grow by 6% between 2018 and 2028, and the job market for human resources managers should grow by 7% based on estimates. Advertising and marketing managers should benefit from an 8% estimated growth in available jobs. All of these career paths exceed the 5% projected growth across all occupations during the same period. 

The GMAC highlights several trends in MBA hiring in its 2019 Corporate Recruiters Survey: MBAs who are willing to move abroad benefit from 87% of Asian companies and 69% of European companies planning to hire recent graduates. Startup companies are additional sources of employment, with a 62% projected MBA hiring rate in 2019, up from 45% in 2018. The GMAC found that consulting, utility providers, and health care were the strongest areas of demand for MBA graduates. 

Professionals with MBAs should further expand their career options to unconventional roles for business school graduates. U.S. News & World Report suggests higher education management as an intriguing possibility for MBAs who want to bring corporate skills to college campuses. The publication also advocates for MBAs in the sports and fashion industries, because their analytical skills are valuable for understanding changing consumer trends. 

Another nontraditional career path for MBAs is sustainability leadership roles that blend entrepreneurial impulses with progressive values. MBA graduates can also consider starting companies of their own, rather than serving the visions of others. Think of the future when you consider the business functions and industries that fit your interests. The World Economic Forum’s The Future of Jobs Report 2018 details developments that are expected to impact businesses through 2022. For example, forward-thinking MBAs need to consider how cloud computing and artificial intelligence fit into basic functions like customer service and sales. 

The saturation of mobile phone use in Asia, Africa, and Latin America will also provide growth opportunities for companies skilled in digital marketing. The opportunities for professional growth and career advancement are plentiful for motivated MBAs. Graduate degree programs show their students how they can affect change in workplaces around the world. Think carefully before committing your time, energy, and money to an MBA program. The ten MBA degrees listed below feature exceptional faculty, school reputations, and return on investment for students.


We have a time-tested four-part formula designed to rank the nation’s best colleges that we’d love to share with you. We prioritize four major factors: earnings potential, affordability, student satisfaction, and selectivity. Reliable research and well-harvested data are the main ingredients in our recipe for success. 

We don’t make recommendations based on personal opinions or financial incentives, our revenue and content are completely separate, and sponsored schools have no impact on our rankings. The only way to make it onto one of our lists is to have an incredible academic program. If you want to know more, we encourage you to check out our methodology page. 

Check out our ranking of the Best MBA Degree Programs 



The University of California, Berkeley’s sports teams are called the Bears, a name dating back to the late 19th century. Since 1895, this school’s mascot has been the bear, in connection to the California state flag. Berkeley has undergone significant changes in its history, originating as an agricultural school and becoming involved in the civil rights movement of the 1950s and 60s. 

In the 21st century, the university system’s flagship campus has continued its commitment to academic excellence. U.S. News & World Report ranked Berkeley #22 among National Universities and #34 in Best Undergraduate Teaching for the 2019-2020 school year. The Master of Business Administration program at the University of California, Berkeley also boosted the school to #6 in Best Business Schools. 

The admissions process for Berkeley’s MBA program ensures that students are surrounded by promising colleagues. Even though the Haas School of Business does not maintain minimum requirements for GPAs or test scores, applicants admitted to the Class of 2020 held average undergraduate GPAs of 3.66 and GMAT scores of 726. The application requires official university transcripts, two letters of recommendation, and a $200 application fee. Prospective students who advance beyond the initial application review may be asked to interview with business school representatives. Of the 3,700 applicants to the Class of 2020, the University admitted 291 new students. 

The Haas School of Business requires MBA students to complete 12 core courses. Candidates delve deep into advanced business topics like strategic leadership, financial accounting, and data and decisions. Each student also completes an Applied Innovation Course like the Haas@Work program, which sends teams of MBA candidates to assist companies with real-world issues. 

The full-time MBA program takes 21 months to complete, packing a good deal of valuable experiences into a brief window. There are alternatives to a full-time MBA for working professionals who want to balance their studies with professional obligations: The Evening & Weekend MBA option takes three years to complete with course schedules that fit around standard work hours. Mid-level managers and senior executives can complete the MBA for Electives over 19 months. The MBA for Electives concentrates classes into three-day sessions every three weeks. 

In the Class of 2020, 70% of students received financial aid, and 40% received scholarships. The university’s Berkeley MBA Grant is available to promising students who demonstrate financial need. The Haas School of Business maintains merit-based funding options like the Galloway MBA Fellowship and the Blue Duck Scholarship. Students can also pursue fellowships through the university’s Institute for Business and Social Impact and the Center for Gender, Equity, and Leadership. 

The Class of 2020 profile shows an experienced and diverse student body at the Haas School of Business. A majority of students had three to eight years of professional experience upon admission, with an average experience level of 5.4 years. 43% of MBA students at Berkeley are women, exceeding the 38% average for all MBA programs noted by the GMAC. The University of California, Berkeley reports that 38% of its MBA students are minorities, and the program represents 39 countries. 



Texas A&M University became the state’s first public university when it was founded in 1876. The university’s growing reputation in the 20th century made it the natural choice to serve as the main campus of the 11-school system, which was assembled in 1948. Referring back to the university’s origins as an agricultural college, its sports teams stay connected to the school’s history with the Aggies nickname. 

Texas A&M has grown into one of the best public universities in the U.S. Niche placed the university at #22 among Top Public Universities and #22 in its Best Big Colleges in America list. The site also ranked the school #39 among the Best Colleges for Business in America, based on the strength of its Master of Business Administration program. 

Aspiring MBA candidates must demonstrate business acumen to gain admission to the program, so you must have at least two years of full-time experience before the first day of classes. You must also complete essays on your post-graduate goals and formative experiences to show why this MBA program is the right fit for you. The Mays Business School also requires two professional references, official transcripts, and a $175 application fee. Business faculty and staff participate in application interviews with prospective students prior to making admission decisions. During the application process, MBA aspirants can pursue funding options like the two-year Graduate Diversity Fellowship, to reduce tuition costs. 

You can complete the full-time MBA from Texas A&M in three semesters and one interim session. There are five possible specializations, such as Entrepreneurship or Supply Chain and Operations, to match your professional goals. Required courses like Business Analytics and Strategic Management provide foundations for future leadership positions. 

The program further allows MBA candidates to customize their experiences with electives including Investment Management and Services Marketing. To satisfy the capstone requirement, second-year students consult with regional businesses. The Mays Business School also encourages MBA students to add international business or advanced international affairs certificates during an optional fourth semester of study. 

Texas A&M provides alternatives to the full-time MBA program for students who are further along in their careers. The Professional MBA option takes two years to complete through evening and weekend courses. The Executive MBA offers courses that meet every other weekend to help candidates with at least 10 years of experience complete their degrees in two years. Combined degree tracks like the joint JD/MBA and MD/MBA help ambitious professionals bring an entrepreneurial spirit to the legal and medical fields, respectively. 

MBA candidates gain invaluable contacts and experience in the business world through real-world learning opportunities. In your first year, you will be assigned to research startup ventures for viability as part of the MBA Venture Challenge. Faculty and business experts evaluate MBA student groups’ presentations to determine their strength. 

The Mays Business School also maintains study abroad opportunities for students in China, Denmark, France, and Germany. Student organizations such as the Mays Business School Consulting Club and Aggies Women MBAs provide opportunities for community involvement and professional development. And to provide support for newcomers to the Aggies family, the Partners-Cohort is a group of MBA students’ spouses and significant others. 



The Georgia Institute of Technology, better known as Georgia Tech, has a rich history dating back to 1885. The school’s business and science programs are steeped in the university’s original mission to help the South recover from the Civil War. The Yellow Jackets football program has topped the nation on four occasions between 1917 and 1990. 

Over time, Georgia Tech grew from its metro Atlanta campus to include satellite centers from France to Singapore. U.S. News & World Report has recognized the school as a national leader in higher education, naming it #29 among National Universities. The university’s Master of Business Administration ranked #29 on the Best Business Schools list for the 2019-2020 school year. 

To apply to the Georgia Tech MBA program, you must complete two essays that highlight your interests. The first essay asks why you see the MBA program at Georgia Tech essential to achieve your long-term goals, and the second essay asks for a list of 10 facts about your personal and professional background. You must also submit contact information for at least two references, who are then asked to complete letters of recommendation. Additional application requirements include GRE or GMAT scores and a $75 application fee. After applications are reviewed, the business school staff completes interviews with admission finalists. 

The MBA program takes 22 months of full-time study to complete, with 12 courses in seven core areas, including accounting, marketing, and strategy. You have several elective options to customize your learning experiences. A four-course immersive track in Technology Innovation, Leveraging Analytics, or Leading Digital blends classroom time with experiential learning helping area companies. Students can select from multiple three-course concentrations, such as Entrepreneurship, Real Estate, or Quantitative Finance, that drill deep into business trends. The Schuller College of Business also allows MBA candidates to pursue up to 11 elective courses that fit their unique interests. 

You can also further enhance your career prospects with Georgia Tech’s internship and career planning services. The Jones MBA Career Center partners with companies like Delta, Liberty Mutual, and Facebook to connect graduates with post-MBA positions. Additional resources from the center include career planning, interview simulations, and internship identification. The Institute for Leadership and Entrepreneurship cultivates future leaders through a study abroad program in Eastern Europe, the Ideas 2 Serve competition, and a weekly series of leadership talks. 

Georgia Tech also offers an Evening MBA program that takes up to three years to complete and focuses on quantitative skills. The 17-month Executive MBA program requires applicants to show at least five years of professional experience. Business professionals interested in terminal degrees can complete the university’s PhD in Management. Opportunities for specialized business research at Georgia Tech connect MBA candidates with world-class faculty and corporate leaders. 

The Business Analytics Center relies on graduate student projects and faculty research to refine tools for data visualization and econometrics. Students learn how businesses can take the lead in eco-friendly and progressive initiatives through the Ray C. Anderson Center for Sustainable Business. The Cecil B. Day Program for Business Ethics emphasizes responsible leadership through guest lectures and financial support for conference attendance. 



In 2019, Niche named the University of North Texas #86 among the Best Big Colleges in America, and #123 among Top Public Universities in America. This public university in Denton, Texas opened as a private school for teachers in 1890. Degree programs broadened beyond teacher education throughout the 20th century, and the school adopted its current name in 1988. The University of North Texas added a campus in Frisco, a medical center, and a law school in recent decades. Students and faculty in the Master of Business Administration program have also benefited from the university’s proximity to the thriving Dallas-Fort Worth business community. 

Upon applying to the G. Brint Ryan College of Business, you must complete an essay on how you hope to add value to the program. Successful students show GMAT scores of at least 520 and GRE verbal scores of at least 153, but these requirements may be waived if you hold a graduate degree in another field. A current resume and at least three letters of recommendation establish each applicant’s professional credentials. The Toulouse Graduate School requires a $75 application fee, and business faculty interview promising candidates to determine their readiness for advanced studies. MBA applicants are considered for most in-house scholarships and fellowships without additional materials. 

Newcomers to the business school are treated to an abundance of options for their MBA studies. The full-time MBA in Business Management program focuses on business management with an average completion time of 11 months. You can also select from on-campus specializations like Business Analytics, Health Services Management, and Information Technology. 

The University of North Texas has also partnered with the Dallas Cowboys to confer an MBA with a Sports Entertainment Management concentration. MBA candidates may also choose from six online degree options spanning specializations from Marketing to Supply Chain Management. A PhD in Business is also available for professionals who want to focus on careers in business research and academia. 

The full-time MBA in Business Management program is a good example of the school’s approach to business education. Admitted students start with a two-course summer session covering accounting and organizational behavior. The first full semester features five courses, including Financial Management, Business Ethics, and an independent study course that includes visits to local businesses. MBA candidates in their final semester complete five courses on topics such as Data Mining and Administrative Strategy. Every MBA specialization leaves University of North Texas graduates prepared for the challenges of modern business. 

Students and faculty expand their understanding of the business world through on-campus centers and institutes. The Institute of Petroleum Accounting, the Center for Logistics & Supply Chain Management, and the Murphy Center for Entrepreneurship & Innovation connect academic research to trends in the marketplace. 

The University of North Texas MBA program’s student body features talented and diverse professionals. Of the program’s 389 MBA students in 2019, the average GPA was 3.53 and the average GMAT score was 530. Students represent 73 countries around the world, including Brazil, South Africa, and Japan. The G. Brint Ryan College of Business notes that 65% of MBA students complete their studies on a part-time basis. 



Austin, Texas is known for its vibrant arts and music scene and the annual South by Southwest festival. The main campus of the University of Texas has also been a fixture of the state capital since its first classes were held in 1883. UT Austin has produced famed alumni like actor Matthew McConaughey and Heisman Trophy winners Earl Campbell and Ricky Williams.

Niche recognized the university’s national reputation with an Overall Niche Grade of A+, including an A+ for both Value and Academics. U.S. News & World Report emphasized the strength of the school’s business programs, ranking it #19 in its Best Business Schools list. The university’s Master of Business Administration program’s experienced faculty and multiple degree paths support this rank. 

The McCombs School of Business’s MBA application is designed to offer multiple methods to introduce candidates’ interests. You must submit an introductory essay, and another essay stating your goals for MBA work. Admission officials also ask for one letter of recommendation, recent GMAT or GRE scores, a current resume, and a $200 application fee. If you are interested in joint degrees, like the MBA/JD or the MBA/MS in Social Work, you must meet all requirements for each program. 

MBA candidates at UT Austin select from seven specializations that define their coursework. These specializations allow you to on business functions like accounting, finance, or operations. In each concentration, candidates complete seven required courses, such as Strategic Career Planning, Statistics, and Financial Management. Of the 30 credits earned during your first year, and all courses in your second year, 14 are electives. Elective options dig deep into topics like social enterprise, corporate ethics, and high technology marketing. 

The university leverages its statewide presence to help full- and part-time MBA students achieve their goals. The Austin campus offers full-time, evening, and executive MBA programs. Working professionals can also earn an MBA through weekend programs held in Dallas and Houston. Business education is not restricted to the classroom at UT Austin. The MBA+ Leadership Program trains promising business students through consulting projects, personalized coaching, and corporate networking opportunities. 

You can further explore areas of concentration through one of eight fellowship programs. International travel programs, like Global Connections Study Tours and the McCombs Adventure Program, bring the global economy into perspective. The McCombs School of Business also hosts academic competitions such as the National Energy Finance Challenge, which pushes students to solve real-world problems. 

The MBA Class of 2020 features 284 students, and the average student is 28 years old. The university’s reputation for academic excellence is evidenced by an average 3.48 GPA and an average 702 GMAT score. The business school reports that 31% of MBA students have identified as minorities, including 19% as underrepresented minorities. 24% of business school students came to Austin from another country. Admitted students also represent diverse fields, with 32% of MBA candidates coming from STEM majors and 17% with social science degrees. 



The University of Wisconsin-Madison’s influence extends beyond Wisconsin’s capital city, thanks to “the Wisconsin Idea.” This philosophy encourages students and faculty to connect their work with the needs of communities throughout the state. Since the term’s introduction in 1904, university departments have developed environmental, health, educational, and business solutions for Wisconsin cities from Superior to Kenosha. 

The Badgers football and basketball programs have also made the university a household name through decades of sustained success. Forbes confirmed the University of Wisconsin-Madison’s national reputation with a ranking of #16 among Public Colleges and #69 among its Top Colleges 2019 list. The Master of Business Administration is among the school’s top programs, thanks to its customization and connection to Wisconsin business communities. 

The average MBA student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison has a 670 GMAT score, and applicants should demonstrate undergraduate GPAs of at least 3.0 to avoid provisional status. The MBA program does not include a minimum professional experience requirement, thus helping less-experienced students to improve their odds of admission. Finalists for the MBA program are invited to the campus for interviews to help with final decisions. 

Admitted students are integrated into the Wisconsin School of Business through the MBA Orientation program. It helps MBA candidates plan their degree paths with experienced advisors prior to the first day of classes. In your first year, you will complete ten core courses, including Integrated Company Analysis, Business Strategy, and Marketing Management. First-year MBA students also complete two immersive leadership experiences that take one week each and include case competitions and the Leadership Catalyst program. The remaining courses are defined by your selected specialization. 

The MBA program features 10 specializations in areas such as Real Estate, Arts Administration, and Risk Management. Electives across the two years of each student’s work are defined by these concentrations. The Wisconsin School of Business encourages MBA students to pursue additional experiences that strengthen their resumes. First-year MBA candidates complete summer internships with national and international companies before moving into the second year. Global Learning Experiences, offered through the university, expose future business leaders to global markets like Brazil, Ireland, and Vietnam. You can also add certificate options in Business Analytics, Social Responsibility, Entrepreneurship, and Strategic Innovation to strengthen the MBA’s impact. 

Business education at the University of Wisconsin-Madison extends beyond the full-time MBA program. The university also offers an Evening MBA for full-time professionals and an Executive MBA designed for mid-career professionals. Aspiring lawyers and entrepreneurs can cross into each other’s fields with the combined JD/MBA program. In fact, the entire roster of graduate programs is available for joint degree development with an MBA. 

A glimpse at the MBA Class of 2020 shows the university’s appeal to promising business professionals. The 79-student Class of 2020 has an average age of 28 and five years’ professional experience. The Wisconsin School of Business values the program’s diversity, with 27% international students and 11% underserved minority groups. While 29% of the cohort’s students previously earned business degrees, 25% entered with engineering degrees, and 19% hold social science degrees. 



Stanford University’s international reputation is built on generations of award-winning academics and thinkers. As of the 2018-2019 school year, the school employed 17 Nobel Prize laureates and four Pulitzer Prize winners. World-class research emerges from university assets like the National Accelerator Laboratory and the Hoover Institution on War, Revolution, and Peace.

 U.S. News & World Report placed Stanford at #6 among National Universities in its 2019-2020 rankings. The university’s resources and reputation have yielded many prominent business leaders, as evidenced by a #2 rank among Best Business Schools. The Master of Business Administration at Stanford University challenges students to live up to these expectations. 

Every MBA application at Stanford is evaluated based on the applicant’s intellectual vitality, demonstrated leadership potential, and personal qualities. During the application process, you will complete essays answering the questions “Why Stanford?” and “What matters most to you?” Stanford’s Graduate School of Business requires letters of recommendation from your current supervisor and one past supervisor. Application packets also include official transcripts, GMAT or GRE scores, and background information on your awards and accomplishments. 

There is no minimum amount of professional experience required for admission. Stanford also conducts hour-long interviews between alumni and finalists for admission. The application fee for the MBA program is $275, though the university reduces fees to $100 based on financial need. At the time of application, students interested in joint programs like the JD/MBA or MS in Computer Science/MBA must complete materials for both degrees. 

The Graduate School of Business notes that approximately 50% of MBA students receive fellowship awards, which average $35,000 per year. Fellowship awards are determined based on student financial need at the time of application. The Charles P. Bonini Partnership for Diversity Fellowship and the Stanford Reliance Dhirubhai Fellowship provide additional funding but require separate applications. The Knight-Hennessy Scholars Program provides full funding for MBA applicants interested in interdisciplinary business solutions. 

MBA students start their Stanford careers with eight core courses covering foundational concepts like ethics in management and managerial skills. By the second and third quarters, candidates select courses from business areas such as marketing, human resource management, and data analysis. Second-year students complete their degrees via electives in nine disciplines, including political economics and accounting. 

The university also allows up to 12 credits from non-business graduate programs, such as computer science or design. Every MBA student is required to complete a global experience, such as a 10-day study trip, an immersive management experience, or a global seminar. The Stanford-Tsinghua Exchange Program encourages collaboration between graduate students at Stanford and Tsinghua University, in China. 

Stanford University’s Class of 2021 confirms its selective MBA program: Of the 7,342 applicants to the program, only 417 new students were admitted for the Fall 2019 term. The MBA student body features 47% women, 43% international students, and 27% members of minority groups. The typical student entered the MBA program with an average of 4.6 years of experience. MBA candidates are the best of the best, with an average GMAT score of 734 and an average combined GRE of 330. Stanford’s global appeal is clear, as students from 160 universities and 80 countries are part of its MBA program. 



Harvard University is the oldest university in the nation, and students have crossed its famed campus since 1636. The school is a known producer of world leaders, including U.S. Presidents John Adams, Franklin Roosevelt, and John F. Kennedy. Harvard’s ubiquity in popular culture includes appearances in fare ranging from the William Faulkner novel The Sound and the Fury to the movie Legally Blonde

But pop culture fame and a string of renowned alumni are not sufficient to explain Harvard’s staying power. U.S. News & World Report confirmed the university’s standing with a #2 ranking among National Universities and a #2 spot among the Best Value Schools for 2019-2020. The Master of Business Administration is one of Harvard’s leading programs, helping it to obtain a #3 spot among the Best Business Schools. 

The three-step MBA application process for the Harvard Business School reflects the school’s selectivity. In the initial application, prospective students must submit transcripts, GMAT or GRE scores, a resume, and two letters of recommendation. The school also requests an essay elaborating on any areas beyond the initial application that help define the applicant’s interest in the program. A $250 fee must accompany each application. 

Students who advance past the first stage are asked to complete a 30-minute interview, either in person or via video chat. After the interview, the applicant enters the final stage by submitting an essay reflecting on the application process. Ambitious students interested in joint degrees like the MD/MBA and JD/MBA must complete both degree applications for admission.

The full-time MBA at Harvard takes two years to complete. In the first semester, candidates mix required courses like Marketing and Finance with intensive team projects. MBA students expand their horizons in the second semester with global immersion experiences and a course in international economics. 

Second-year candidates choose from extensive elective options, covering everything from corporate misconduct to retailing. Harvard Business School also allows candidates to complete graduate electives at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Tufts University. The elective requirements may also be fulfilled through field courses at local, national, or international businesses. 

A Harvard education can be a pricey investment for exceptional students. Harvard Business School notes that 50% of its graduate students qualify for scholarships based on financial need. Summer fellowships arranged through the school help finance tuition for many students following their first year of study. For MBAs who pursue ventures in Africa, the Global Opportunity Fellowship is a post-graduate aid package that provides up to $50,000 per year, with five years of eligibility following graduation. 

The MBA Class of 2021 at Harvard Business School shows the global reach of this venerable institution. Harvard received 9,228 applications for the Class of 2021 and accepted 938 highly talented students. The MBA cohort represents 71 countries, with 37% of all students coming from countries other than the United States. Admitted students brought stellar academic credentials to the program with an average GPA of 3.7, an average GMAT score of 730, and a combined GRE average of 326. The most common professional backgrounds for Harvard MBAs were venture capital (16%), consulting (15%) and a three-way tie between technology, financial services, and manufacturing (12%).  



The University of California, Irvine has built a national reputation, despite only having been founded in 1965. The university features a teaching hospital, an arboretum, and research centers like the Center for the Study of Democracy. Students selected the university’s Anteaters mascot early in its existence, and have cheered on national successes in men’s volleyball, tennis, and track and field. 

Forbes ranks the university #87 among Top Colleges 2019 and #21 in Public Colleges. The University of California, Irvine also sits at #29 among Top Public Universities in America and #68 in Best Colleges for Business in America, according to Niche. These rankings were achieved in part by the students and faculty of the Master of Business Administration program. 

Application to the MBA program requires official transcripts and GMAT or GRE scores. The Paul Merage School of Business does not mandate minimum test scores, but notes that you must have a GPA of 3.0 or above. Your complete application includes a current resume, two letters of recommendation, and a $150 application fee. The business school also requires essays on your goals and values to add dimension to your application. 

A video or in-person interview is the final step of the application process. For students interested in JD/MBA or MD/MBA programs, you must be offered admission to the law school or medical school before your MBA application can be approved. Admitted students can complete the full-time MBA program in two years if they enroll in winter and summer sessions. 

The UC Irvine allows MBA students to specialize in Digital Transformation, Health Care Management, Innovation and Entrepreneurship, or Real Estate and Urban Development. In the first year, required courses explore topics such as managerial finance and information technology for management. During the summer following year one, MBA candidates complete internships that fit within their specializations. In year two, candidates add electives like Multinational Finance and Global Negotiations to round out their degree paths. The business school encourages MBA students to pursue study abroad opportunities as they approach graduation. 

The full-time MBA path is not the only option for business school students: The Fully Employed MBA is a part-time program for managers and mid-career professionals. This program schedules courses on two nights during the week along with quarterly weekend courses. Senior business leaders can complete the MBA for Executives over 21 months of courses held every third weekend. The MBA for Executives includes a health care leadership track focused on health technology. 

In 2018, the Paul Merage School of Business published an employment report that demonstrated the program’s expertise in training successful professionals. Of the 166 MBA students in the Classes of 2018 and 2019, 57% received full-time job offers by graduation day, and 87% received offers within three months of graduation. The median income of the survey’s respondents was $100,000, and the top reported salary was $142,000. Program alumni also received median signing bonuses of $11,000, with a $100,000 bonus at the high end. 



Arizona State University has grown from a small teacher’s college founded in 1885 to a nationally renowned university in the 21st century. This growth includes the addition of five Phoenix-area campuses and four satellite centers throughout the state. The university is now the fifth-largest in the U.S. by enrollment, reaching 38,212 undergraduate students during the 2019-2020 school year. 

Arizona State’s appeal is due in part to the successes of its Sun Devils athletics programs, including recent national championships in softball and track. U.S. News & World Report highlighted the strengths of the university’s business programs with a ranking of #33 among the country’s Best Business Schools. The Master of Business Administration at Arizona State University allows students to work with diverse colleagues and faculty members. 

The W.P. Carey School of Business provides a straightforward application process for MBA applicants: You must submit an updated resume, university transcripts, GRE or GMAT scores, and one reference. You will also be asked to complete essays detailing your career path and how you plan to contribute to the community with your business degree. Arizona State charges the lowest application fee on this list, at $70. 

MBA candidates at Arizona State start with required courses covering areas such as managerial accounting and organizational behavior. In your first year, you will receive career coaching twice from department faculty and staff. During the first quarter, each student is asked to select from seven concentrations, such as Consulting and Marketing, which feature 15 credits of classes to be completed by graduation. The business school also offers specializations in Sustainable Enterprise, Sports Business, Health Care Management, and Global Business Economics, which are completed through nine elective credits. Dual degree options for MBA/JD and MBA/Master of Architecture are also available. 

The full-time MBA path described above is not the only option for Arizona State students. The Online MBA program expedites the graduate degree process with courses lasting less than 8 weeks per term. The Professional Flex MBA uses twice-weekly courses and online lessons to help professionals complete their degrees in up to four years. Mid-career professionals in the Executive MBA program use advanced courses along with two study trips to enhance their prospects. 

No matter which MBA track you choose, you can enrich your Arizona State experience through student organizations. Current students can help applicants as members of the MBA Ambassadors program, and organizations like the Entrepreneurship Society and the Health Care Club provide opportunities outside the classroom to work with fellow students. Additionally, the university hosts clubs like the Wine Society and Golf Club, where students can have fun around their busy schedules. 

Data on Arizona State’s MBA Class of 2020 illustrates the program’s international appeal. The business school reports a 20% acceptance rate from 764 applications, and the 90-student MBA cohort entered with an average age of 29 years. 36% of MBA students at Arizona State are from outside the U.S. Of the remaining candidates, half of the students are from the Southwest, and the other half are from other regions. The average MBA student at Arizona State has a 3.53 GPA, a GRE score of 313, and a GMAT score of 694. 


#11. University of California, Los Angeles

Location: Los Angeles, California

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $15,002


#12. University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign

Location: Champaign, Illinois

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $15,829


#13. University of Virginia

Location: Charlottesville, Virginia

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $17,845


#14. Boston College

Location: Boston, Massachusetts

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $26,567


#15. University of North Carolina

Location: Chapel Hill, North Carolina

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $11,649


#16. Cornell University

Location: Ithaca, New York

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $28,890


#17. University of Georgia 

Location: Athens, Georgia

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $15,539


#18. Purdue University

Location: West Lafayette, Indiana

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $11,898


#19. University of Pennsylvania

Location: Philadelphia, Pennsylvania

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $26,266


#20. University of Washington

Location: Seattle, Washington

Degree: Master of Business Administration

Net Price: $9,765



Michael Templeton
Managing Editor

Kacey Reynolds Schedler
Contributing Editor