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  • Malvika Patil

What an MBA Costs in 2024

Updated: Jun 21



We’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: an MBA is expensive. 


For most MBA applicants, the cost of an MBA is one of the main factors they consider when deciding to apply. But despite the high price tag, an MBA continues to be one of the most in-demand postgraduate programs for working professionals across the globe. That’s because its benefits usually outweigh its cost; MBAs are known for their high ROI (return on investment), given high starting salaries and wider networks for graduates. 


In this blog, we’ll break down the average total cost of an MBA at an M7 business school, show you how you can plan to finance your MBA, and answer the most popular b-school hopeful question: is an MBA worth the cost?


Average Cost of an MBA in 2024-2025


Harvard Business School is part of the prestigious M7 group of US business schools. If you plan to apply to top US business schools, HBS is a good benchmark to calculate your approximate MBA costs. 


Surprisingly, Harvard’s MBA tuition fee has remained relatively stable since 2018, only increasing by roughly $3,000 since the 2018-2019 MBA cycle. Here is how much you can expect to pay for your full-time HBS MBA program:


Harvard Business School MBA Cost Breakdown 2024 - 2025

Factors

Single

Married

Married (with 1 child)

Tuition

$76,410

$76,410

$76,410

Rent (9 months)

$17,280

$26,820

$34,560

Course & Program Materials

$2,650

$2,650

$2,650

Travel (9 months)

$2,280

$3,924

$4,029

Food (9 months)

$6,120

$8,190

$10,296

Student Health Insurance Plan

$4,202

$4,202

$4,202

HUHS Student Health Fee

$1,592

$1,592

$1,592

Hushp For Student Spouses/Dependents

$0

$9,112

$13,828

Other Living Expenses (9 months)

$8,320

$10,736

$13,351

Computer

$1500

$1500

$1500

1 year cost

$120,354

$145,136

$162,418

Total Cost for a 2 Year MBA

$240,708

$290,272

$324,836


On average, an MBA at a top business school will set you back by approximately $202,200. This figure includes tuition, application and course fees, school materials, living costs, health insurance, and transportation for a two-year MBA program.


Factors Influencing the Cost of an MBA


MBA degree costs are influenced by: 


  • Ranking: The program cost for an MBA changes significantly the further down the rankings you go. For example, an MBA at a T25 school like Emory’s Goizueta Business School costs $155,945, while an MBA at a T50 school like the BYU Marriott School of Business will set you back by $108,400. Private schools are more expensive than public universities. 


  • Program type: Full-time, in-person MBA programs are more expensive than part-time or online MBA programs. That’s because full-time students have to factor in rent and living expenses, and also 2 years of missed income from leaving their jobs to pursue an MBA. Part-time and online MBA students usually choose to continue working while studying.


  • Location: Public universities often offer different tuition rates for resident (in-state) MBA students versus non-resident (out-of-state) MBA students. The difference in tuition can be significant; for example, the Wisconsin School of Business’s per year MBA tuition is $27,017 for resident students, and $50,663 for non-resident students. Private schools charge the same price for both resident and non-resident students.  Also consider the location of the school. Your living expenses while attending a school in California, like Berkeley Haas, will be much higher than your expenses while attending a school in Illinois, like Northwestern Kellogg. 


  • Dependents: Planning on bringing your family with you? Prepare to shell out a lot more for business school. Factor in the cost of dependents while planning to finance your MBA; use the table above as a handy reference to your approximate total cost. Note that in addition to increased expenses for room and board, you will also need to cover your family’s health insurance and any relocation fees.


  • Admissions Consulting: You may choose to hire an admissions consultant to help you with your MBA applications. At SWC, a 3 school all-inclusive admissions consulting package costs $10,710. Our clients think of the admissions consulting process as an investment, given the hands-on support and clarity they get in the MBA application process. Working with a consultant significantly improves your chances of admission and scholarships - here’s why you should consider hiring one


Is an MBA Worth the Cost?


So is an MBA worth the price tag? Short answer: Yes.


This 2023 survey from the Graduate Management Admissions Council (GMAC) shows that 82% of employers expressed confidence in the abilities and advancement potential of business school graduates. Like in 2022, MBA degrees continue to be the most in-demand business degree type across industries.


The survey also showed that MBAs were more likely to be hired over their counterparts with business master’s degrees, and that MBA salaries in 2023 in the US were higher than 2022 projections, even after accounting for inflation. MBA graduates from top-ranked business schools like HBS, Chicago Booth, and NYU Stern reported starting pay packages—including base pay and bonuses —of at least $200,000.


However, the ROI on your MBA depends on your career goals. Note that employers are most likely to hire MBAs in consulting, strategy/innovation, and marketing roles. Some industries may not require employees to do an MBA, and you may benefit more from a specialized Master’s program instead, like healthcare administration or human resources management.


How Can I Pay for my MBA?


An MBA is a hefty investment, but there are several ways to reduce your financial liabilities: 


  • Consider an online or part-time MBA: Online MBA programs are significantly cheaper than full-time, in-person MBA programs, ranging from $5,000 to over $60,000 in tuition fees. There’s also the waived living expenses, as you will not need to relocate to campus to pursue your MBA.  However, note that there are drawbacks. According to the GMAC survey referenced above, employers value talent from in-person programs more highly than graduates with online degrees. Online MBA candidates do not have opportunities to network like their full-time counterparts. Additionally, many top business schools do not offer the online MBA option.  On the other hand, part-time MBAs cost approximately the same as a full-time MBA. But like an online MBA, a part-time MBA will allow you to work during the program, which leads to a much lower opportunity cost as you can earn and study at the same time. However, note that part-time MBA students have access to most of the same benefits as a full-time MBA candidate, but have fewer scholarships and funding options available. Check out how Sharoon used his part-time MBA to pivot into Product Management at Microsoft.



  • Scholarships and Grants: Most top business schools offer significant scholarship awards, fellowships, grants, and tuition fee reductions. That’s because they want to attract the most promising candidates who may not be able to afford an MBA, but have the potential to become successful leaders in their fields (and boost the school’s ranking!).  In addition to university scholarships and grants, private organizations and governmental bodies also offer scholarships based on financial need, academic merit, and minority status or professional affiliations. Do your research to understand which scholarships you are eligible to apply for. When you write your scholarship essay, this is a good place to start.


  • Employer Sponsorships: Some companies will pay for your MBA as a strategic investment into your future with them. If you are a top performer, your company may want to retain you. In this case, you can present a sponsorship or tuition reimbursement proposal to your management. Sponsored employees typically have to commit to a minimum period of return employment of 1-3 years post their MBA. Learn more about how you can get your MBA sponsored by your employer here.


  • Federal aid and student loans: If you are from the United States, you should submit the Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA). This helps the federal government, state governments, and universities calculate how much aid you are eligible to receive, based on your individual and family income. Applying for financial aid via the FAFSA is free. Based on your FAFSA calculations, you can also apply for federal subsidized loans. More generally, MBA students can apply for student loans to help cover their MBA costs. 


 

Need help applying for a scholarship to cover your MBA costs? We’ve got you! Book a free chat with our team to get started with your MBA application. 

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