If you want an MBA education, be prepared to pay big money. The top 15 business schools in the US charge tuition of $130,000 or higher for a two-year degree. Below that tier, however, there are some relative “bargains” for students interested in pursuing finance careers, including the University of Texas at Austin’s McCombs, Emory University’s Goizueta, Indiana University’s Kelley and Washington University in St. Louis’s Olin.
The highest paying finance jobs go to MBA graduates from elite schools Harvard, Stanford and the University of Pennsylvania’s Wharton. However, there's a cluster of programs whose alumni can earn a very respectable $100k-plus in finance. Those schools include the aforementioned Emory Goizueta, WashU Olin and Indiana Kelley, as well as the University of North Carolina’s Kenan-Flagler and Cornell University’s Johnson.
More than 25% of tuition is covered by aid at top-tier programs including Stanford, Harvard, Northwestern University’s Kellogg and New York University’s Stern. However, that percentage is closer to 40% at next-tier schools such as Indiana Kelley and WashU Olin.
Furthermore, more than 60% of students receive some financial aid at University of Chicago Booth, NYU Stern and the University of California at Los Angeles’ Anderson. Indiana Kelley raises the bar to nearly 70%.
Leading schools in terms of percentage of their MBA grads who enter finance include Harvard, Chicago Booth, Wharton and NYU Stern, all with 33% or higher.
However, there’s a cluster of less-celebrated programs where the finance sector still hires more than 25% of the class – Georgetown University’s McDonough, Cornell Johnson and UNC Kenan-Flagler.
And if you’re really looking for sleepers, consider two lower-profile MBA programs that appear among the US News top-ranked finance programs: the University of Rochester’s Simon and Creighton University’s Heider.
All is not lost if you can’t crack the upper echelon of business schools. With focus, determination and chutzpah, there are a number of ways that future bankers and private equity professionals can land top finance jobs.
Target other full-time MBA programs ranked in the US News Top 50 and no more than a half-day's drive from a major metropolitan area.
For New York, these include Yale, Temple University’s Fox, Pennsylvania State University’s Smeal, Rochester Simon and Rutgers.
For San Francisco, consider Berkeley-Haas and UC Davis.
For Boston, strong next-tier business schools include Dartmouth College’s Tuck, Boston University’s Questrom and Boston College’s Carroll.
For Chicago, good options include the University of Michigan’s Ross, Notre Dame’s Mendoza, the University of Wisconsin, Michigan State University’s Broad and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.
Dan Bauer is the CEO and founder of The MBA Exchange, a provider of admissions and career advisory services.
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